There are laws you choose to follow and laws that simply exist. The law of gravity, roughly translated, states that since you are a lot smaller and lighter than the planet earth, you will be drawn to its surface, whether walking down the street or jumping from an airplane. Unlike traffic laws, you can’t break the law of gravity at will.
Laws of nature are principles that simply are, and to be productive, you have to work with them. Some are cast in stone, some are the result of common human experience.
There are five core principles that are applicable to life, farming, and business:
- Timing. It’s everything, right? Farmers know the best times of year to plant and harvest to reap the maximum benefits from their crops. Their schedule is consistent, year after year. Procrastination is not an option. Efficiency is a must at peak times. They have to persevere in what they know and have the patience to get the results. They have a sense of urgency when needed.
- Integrity. If you’ve ever listened to an ag report, farmers are intent on using the best possible seed, fertilizer, and pest control. They listen and study to find the best, because without quality seed, the end product will be below par. They also focus on the integrity of the soil, because the proper environment for the seed is going to allow it to flourish and grow. Similarly, focus on the integrity of your people, processes, and data for long term success.
- Investment. Farming is hard, physically demanding work that requires personal sacrifice. Farmers do it not only because they have a passion for the process, but they have a long-term perspective. They know the greater investment they make, the better and more bountiful harvest they will receive. What they sow, they shall reap.
- Community. On the farm, it is taken for granted that everyone in the family will participate in the daily tasks necessary to keep livestock and crops healthy and flourishing. If a farmer is temporarily out of commission, the neighbors pitch in and do extra field preparation or harvesting. Farmers trade tips and equipment and provide moral support when the weather is uncooperative. They work together and all benefit. Co-ops were created as early forms of what we now call communities in social media.
- Adaptation. Sometimes, things don’t go according to plan. It may be a cold spring, or a new pest surfaces, or the crop doesn’t produce as well as expected. That’s when successful farmers evaluate what is working and what isn’t and make adjustments. They may have to rotate to a new crop, create bartering agreements when cash flow is low, or invest in new equipment. They also have to adapt when the harvest is more than expected. (2010 was an exceptional year in SW Michigan)
In the same way, businesses require a sense of timing, integrity of the product or service, investment and hard work, community and teamwork, and the willingness to adapt the business as times change.
They are the essential laws of good business, and if you try to go against them, it’s somewhat akin to jumping out of a plane without a parachute.
What core principle can you share to help guide others?
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