How do you continue your work without business succession?
Wim, a successful tomato grower, is well organized. A solid management team ensures that the daily operation runs smoothly. I ask him about his next step, because in your 50s you're still too young to think about quitting, right?
He learned his trade from his father, just as his father had learned it from his father. This way, the knowledge built up with blood, sweat and tears lives on in the next generation, which therefore has a solid basis for doing business. But business succession within the family is no longer so obvious. Then there comes a time when you ask yourself: what am I doing it for?
"I can of course increase my production even more in the Netherlands, which is nice for my ego, but it doesn't make me happier. I have now proven that I can do that. I want to make a substantial contribution to society. That may sound a bit woolly, but I'm really looking for that!"
Your ego says "grow" but your purpose says "bloom"
"Do you mean your purpose - your life purpose?" I ask.
Wil starts laughing loudly: "Now I think it will be very floaty, but without fooling around, I think you get the point here! Growing more tomatoes is not going to make a difference. I am ready for something bigger, something more satisfying and with which people have really been helped. Actually, I want to do nothing more than what my grandfather and my father did when they were my age: to transfer my knowledge and put the next generation on the right track: to make an essential contribution. But how? I have no business succession, I am a practitioner who loves his job and hates traveling. "
"Maybe you have to change the mind? Do you have to think outside the box? "
I remind him of what he said some time ago: "The last two years I have been hit with busloads full of Chinese, Russians and Indians. They love what I do here and keep asking if I can help them produce the same beautiful and tasty tomatoes on their nursery. In the beginning I quite liked that attention. A kind of appreciation and caress from my ego. But you don't buy anything for that and now I'm tired of all those visits. "
Yes, he remembers: "I have the feeling that they just come and get nothing - that is a waste of my time, isn't it?"
"You're there yourself!" I respond, "They want something from you that you have, but don't offer. You have something they can make a difference with locally! "
Then it becomes quiet for a while.
"Making a difference," Wim mutters.
Mindset is everything
I will continue quickly: "Suppose you consider your tomato production company as a large knowledge laboratory in which you and your colleagues develop knowledge on a daily basis in order to grow the most tasty tomatoes in the most sustainable way possible."
Wim's eyebrows rise sharply: "Yes, that's nice, but I have a production company, not a laboratory. Production just has to be done here every day. We don't have time for research or other matters here! "
"And that's why you're so good at it: you have focus and don't let distractions distract you. But just for the idea: what if you shift the production company to a knowledge institution with chance tomatoes as the end product? In addition to tomatoes, this way you produce much more value - you make the difference with your contribution to society. "
My purpose as a business?
The tomato grower immediately continues: "It actually makes sense. The world's population is growing faster than ever. Increasing productivity, sustainable production methods and good consistent quality of healthy food is what the world needs more than ever and I just can. I can literally make a difference in Kazakhstan, or the interior of India! "
His eyes glow with enthusiasm, but then he frowns again, "How the hell am I going to organize that?"
Impact with scalable services
"You're still too much in your grower's path," I tease. "You have to go much further off the beaten track. Take a look at completely different scenarios. "
"Like what then?"
"You can turn your purpose into a scalable business model that you cannot help five or ten foreign growers with, but thousands or perhaps hundreds of thousands at a time!"
"You have to explain that."
"You can peel your knowledge and experience into manageable chunks of knowledge that you offer in order of priority. You do not do this physically, but mainly digitally. You capture all knowledge in protocols supported with instructions, formats, videos and presentations. You offer this via your own website where customers get access for a monthly fee. A subscription. You can also coach people personally via video conferences. Finally, you can build your own community in which your customers share experiences with each other and with you, so that you can further develop your added value for them! "
"Wow," says the grower, "that's a different game than I'm used to!"
"Yes, but with the right mindset and support you can! It is your life purpose, you are an entrepreneur - the choice is yours. "
"So I will continue to grow tomatoes. By sharing my knowledge, I am challenged to keep developing and innovating. This is how I create a sustainable business model. It takes a while, but it appeals to me. "
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