Some people, when you ask them about their work, tell you that they’ve been doing the same job for the last 20 years. They’re usually age 40 and above. Ask Johannes about his job and he will tell you the same thing - he’s been doing the same job for the last 20 years. He’s 23.
He started working on farms when he was 2. Well, let’s not call it working. Rather spending all his time on farms. It all started as a little child when Johannes would sit on a tractor next to the neighbour's farmer - who also dropped him off back home at night when Johannes had long fallen asleep during slurry spreading.
Growing up Johannes changed farms and quickly took on work, learning as he went. By the time highschool started Johannes pretty much was a farmer - without any official education. But he didn’t try too hard to achieve a formal, ordinary education either - after all his afternoons were spent on the farm instead of doing his homework.
To get a degree and the option to make a decent living he went on to do an apprenticeship in farming. Once finished he continued doing his masters which now enables him to lead a farm of any size and teach others who are passionate about pursuing the same path.
This of course comes with a lot of responsibility - but then again, this isn’t really an issue for someone who has spent the first 20 years of his life (and most likely the next 20 years of his life) being a farmer.
So far Johannes has, for the most part, focused on dairy farming as well as arable farming, including different crops such as corn, wheat, rapeseed, oat, soy and barley. In order to produce crop different tractors are used, machines need to be kept in good condition, and equipment needs to be repaired at times. Johannes is also involved in selling and distributing crops. This is only done for a very short time during summer, within only a few days everything is being harvested during the nights and days. Throughout the harvest farmers work up to 20 hours a day.
When asked about checking his emails recently, Johannes simply replied that he hasn’t opened up his laptop in six weeks. Rather unimaginable for most of us these days. But it makes sense - in many ways farming is comparable to running a startup (except for that difference of spending 16 hours or more online each day vs. spending six weeks and more offline). It takes endurance, resilience, and patience to run a startup. Same with being a farmer. It takes courage, willpower, and ambition to work 80 hour work weeks or more. It takes confidence, love, and trust to make an idea happen. Or a new barley experiment. And above all it takes persistence and incredible drive to disrupt and challenge the industry.
That’s what entrepreneurs all over the world do - including a young farmer in a tiny rural German village - they challenge the market. They do things differently. They go above and beyond. They don’t follow the rules. They don’t do what everyone else is doing. They believe that their business will succeed. They don’t settle for mediocrity. They take their life into their own hands. They create their own opportunities.
What this looks like is different for everyone. For some it might mean spending 16 hours a day growth hacking their website. For others it might mean researching and discovering new stories. And for some it might mean spreading slurry for 7 days straight.
Entrepreneurs do whatever it takes to make their business successful - there’s no ‘one fits all’ rule. It’s not about comparing, competing, or copying. It’s about staying true to one's business and focusing on exceeding one’s own expectations. Focus is the word.
Let’s learn that from a farmer who has spent the first 23 years - indeed all his life - doing exactly that.