Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting a farm in southern Illinois called Ernst Family Farm. The owner, David Ernst, is a third generation farmer in New Douglas, Illinois. He attended college and studied agricultural science and took over his family farm after his father passed away.
During my hour long visit there, I found three things that you can learn from this farmer that will help you and your business.
- Passion – David has a passion for sustainable farming and cattle raising that is palpable. As he talks about the no-tilling rotation crop farming, you can hear his love of the concept, you can see it in his face. He truly cares about taking care of the earth and taking care of his animals humanely.Passion for product or service is the first thing that YOUR customers will sense about you as you discuss business. When you have passion for offering what is best for the potential client, they will feel that and be attracted to it.
- Lifelong learning – David Ernst didn’t stop learning about agricultural science when he left college. He has continued to attend farming and livestock conferences. He spends time watching YouTube tutorials about sustainable farming. He attends business trainings through the referral organization that he joined this year. Because he continues to learn and grow, so does his farming business!When you spend time to educate yourself about your product, service, clients, sales, customer retention, customer service, general business education and more, that learning will pay you back in dividends. You will learn things not only about your business, but also about yourself.
- Delegation – Through his continued self education, David learned about the full benefit of earthworms to the soil for both tilling (earth movement) and fertilization (worms eat the organic material in soil and their waste further fertilizes the soil). He used to use tractors to till his acreage four times a year. By building up the population of earthworms, they now till the soil SIX times a year without the use of fossil fuels or harsh fertilizers. He is now able to use the time that he spent tilling to do other things for his farm, including marketing his beef, pork and beefalo meat sales.
What parts of your business can you delegate to an employee, a contractor or even your kids? I know a direct sales leader who would pay her kids their allowance only after they helped her fill out party invitations, envelopes and stamped them. Or they would create hostess packets for her. Clean her office. Clean the house. All so she could focus on the parts of the business where she actually made money.
My visit to this farm really opened my eyes to how all businesses really do have a lot in common, regardless of how unique we all think that we are.