Years ago I lived in New York City and attended law school in downtown Manhattan. About once a month I took refuge from the noisy, crowded city by spending time with close friends living in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. This city is located about a three hour drive from the City and adjacent to Lancaster County, still home to almost thirty thousand Amish people. This area is the second largest congregation of Amish in the United States. This was my introduction to observing business success using the Amish model.
Over the years, I spent much of my free time in this part of the country. I soon became intrigued with the Amish people. They led a simple life and kept to themselves unless it was absolutely necessary to interact with someone outside of their community. Technology was not as prevalent as it would become just a decade later so it was not an issue while I was around them. They still do not use electricity but will use battery powered lights and air compressors for power. No cell phones are permitted but they do have oversized telephone booths. Family is the most important focus and the values of humility, calmness, and composure are at the top of their list of virtues they aspire to every day.
During dozens of visits over a period of years I can only recall one time when an Amish person made eye contact with me. It was a little boy probably five or six years of age and he was fixated on me as I walked past him and his family. I smiled and he immediately dropped his eyes. Our moment has passed.
In the spring of 2009 I was in Orlando, Florida to present at a marketing event hosted by my friend and mentor Armand Morin. The first speaker was Sylvie Fortin and her presentation was about how and why the Amish are so successful in business. Sylvie was an incredible speaker and this was the best talk she ever gave, in my opinion. Once again I was taken back to the days when I walked in the midst of the Amish community and observed first-hand how they interacted with outsiders. In those days I did not give much thought to the world of business, something I now regret. This would change during that year as I became more aware of the benefits of becoming business savvy by learning from others who have already achieved great success.
I’d like to share my thoughts on why I believe we can learn so much from the Amish who continue to set an example of business success and how their businesses are able to succeed and flourish more than ninety percent of the time during the first five years. This is more than three times the national average for startups throughout the United States.
#1 – The Amish are a part of a tight knit community from the time they are born. These people are generous and giving to one another and share experiences, strategies, and lessons with one another.
Have you surrounded yourself with a community of people who lift you up and are always there to catch you when you fall? It is only since coming online at age fifty that I have understood this concept and have acknowledged the importance of connecting with more people. Business success using the Amish model starts with a loyal community you can count on, day in and day out.
In a recent article in the Santa Barbara Independent Walter Capps, co-founder of the Common Table Project stated:
Scientific evidence shows that too few in-person (as opposed to virtual) connections erodes empathy in a community. That divide ripples into the world. Sharing a meal together tends to rekindle a sense of fellowship. And this too seems to have the potential for a powerful ripple effect. It’s simple and fun, but it is also an essential starting point.
#2 – The work ethic exhibited by the overwhelming major of the Amish community is second to none. You won’t see or hear anyone complaining about work that needs to be done to keep their homes and businesses moving forward. Even the youngest members are anxious to lend a hand and everyone pitches in to get it done quickly.
You may have heard about the barn raisings the Amish are known for. This is a collective action of the community in which a barn for one of the members is built with the hands of the entire community. Instead of hiring outside workers or spending days or weeks doing it alone or with a few family members, the barn is raised within two days by all able-bodied people in the community. In modern times they now use a crane and a small crew, but the concept remains the same.
My extended family in Finland has talked about talkoot, is a Finnish expression for a gathering of friends and neighbors organized to accomplish a task. This is similar to how the Amish accomplish bigger tasks in a short amount of time. This work is voluntary and unpaid.
#3 – The Amish stick with the fundamentals of business. Instead of chasing after every shiny object that presents itself they stick with what has worked for decades or longer. Business success using the Amish model relies on taking advantage of what you already have at your disposal to accomplish your goals.
I mentored someone for several years who insisted on using an expensive laptop computer and the latest in software programs and applications. She was shocked to discover I had built a seven figure business using an older laptop with no added memory and programs that were several years out of date. I learned much from watching her work over the years. It was similar to decades ago when I was serious about my tennis game and playing on the circuit in south Florida. The saying back then was “an expensive racket won’t make up for the times you didn’t practice.”
If you are on your journey to entrepreneurship make some mental notes about how you can simplify everything. Become a part of a community for support and guidance; level up your work ethic by embracing the struggle and reaching your full potential; and stick with the basics and fundamentals as you go through each day. Please reach out if I may be of service to you in any way.
I’m author, publisher, and entrepreneur Connie Ragen Green and would love to connect with you. If you are new to the world of online entrepreneurship please check out my comprehensive training on how to set up Funnels That Click and learn how to gain an unfair advantage when it comes to building a lucrative online business.