Why is the sole purpose of a business the short-term gain instead of on the long-term future on not just the business, but the customers as well? At least that is sometimes how it feels. With Go the Extra Mile – Not Quite What You Thought, my friend Nate Beran touches on this when he links to a piece on the Mittelstand at Inc.com. The Mittelstand are small-to-medium sized businesses in Germany that are unique in the fact that they are usually family-owned and centuries-old.
As a relatively recent convert to the family farm (as compared to my younger brother), it is an almost inspiring read and look at how a person might frame decisions when thinking not of just profitability for the next quarter, but for the long-term viability of the entire business.
Since I’ve had children of my own, my perspective has changed drastically. A decision to be made isn’t just about how it will affect the bottom line of today, tomorrow, or even five years down the road … no, it is made with an eye to the distant future, to a time when my sons might be the ones walking on the same land and looking at the same sunset as it goes down over the same fields. I want to be able to supply that to my own children, and their children. The idea of a business, in this case a farm, staying within our family for centuries excites me.
Many times that can mean temporary difficulties to get over the proverbial “hump” to some different time. It might mean forgoing the run-up to try to keep up with the people around you. It might mean staying smaller so that the family can be the ones to take care of the entire operation instead of needing to bring on help.
I know I don’t have the answers, but this is just a small taste of the lens I look through when a decision is needing to be made. We are blessed to currently be looking at the third and fourth generation of Martens farmers working the place … I hope to one day maybe see the fifth and sixth do the same. I want to provide that opportunity for my family.