I am a business mentor for a young woman who just landed a multimillion-dollar deal.
She and her family took a risk, went without for a few years, and worked hard to get their product going. They had folks who believed in them but more importantly, they believed in themselves.
She once said to me that opportunity was all around us and we needed to be OK with just going for it. In other words, we may look too hard for chances even though they likely present themselves every day.
This, of course, is like jet fuel to the entrepreneurial type. They just don’t have enough hours in the day to get all there is out of life because for them, there is so much opportunity all around them.
I often regret the times that I did not just “go for it,” and have never been anxious about the times when I stepped out. It took a lot of courage in my day to do and say the things I did. But that journey is not strewn with regret — the days I regret are those when I didn’t take a risk to make a difference.
Everyone has a different tolerance for risk — and this is especially true on the farm.
- More with Brenda Schoepp on the Alberta Farmer: Celebrating food – and gaining a marketing edge
I liken it to finding a canoe along the shore. The risk adverse will not get in the canoe to get to the other side because they can’t see the shore. They need a reason to take such a risk and all the aspects of paddling across the water have to be discussed first. It may take months or years before they get in the boat and by then the boat is old and leaky. They can then say, ‘See, if I would have got in the boat I would have sunk.’
We love these folks because they won’t let us near water after the spring thaw.
The next person will search for the far-off shoreline; then check the canoe for leaks; ensure there is a lifejacket and paddle; call someone to let them know they are going in the canoe; and then wait until the weather is perfectly still. They will grow slowly in their operations and likely use cash to do so. They are the folks who are thinking of the future and not of just going to the shore for the sake of exploration. The horizon is always in sight but there is no rush — it will always be there.
We love these folks because they give solid advice.
Some will take a look at the canoe and invite all their friends for a paddle — without any intention of reaching the other side. They are content to stay in the same place and have a little fun while being there. These folks are great for our community because they make it fun and they always know where the fish are biting, giving them a business advantage. They will take along a fishing rod and fish when the opportunity presents itself.
And then there are the true entrepreneurs who rig up a powerful gas engine on the canoe and gun it across the water to be the first one on the other side. They will have another crew come later to look for fish so they can direct investors to those spots from the comfort of the newly built lodge or whatever they have done on the other side. They don’t worry about the expense of the engine nor about failing.
We love these folks because they take risk and often build significant enterprises. We go to them for inspiration.
When we look at farming, food processing, and other related business in Canada from a global perspective, there is no greater opportunity on earth. We have cheap land (and quite a bit of it), a good tax system, a democracy, and a “more efficient than most” infrastructure. We are great farmers with a low environmental footprint and are attracting youth to agriculture. Our leadership in food processing is amazing and we are a trusted global food source.
There is room for every farmer. Our livestock sectors — including sheep, goats and bison — have a lot of room for growth. Crops that make the money — like canary seed, lentils, mustard seed and peas — are low in acreage and high in the share of global exports. Canadian fruits and vegetables are highly desired and we have a nearly 20 per cent global share of blueberries and cranberries. Natural, organic, conventional, greenhouse, local (on rented land or owned), it matters not.
The reality is that if you are Canadian and you can dream it, you can do it — whatever your tolerance for risk. There is opportunity all around us!