What can we learn about entrepreneurship from the Amish?
The Hustle

What can we learn about entrepreneurship from the Amish?

Strict religious sects like Mennonites and the Amish are disproportionately successful entrepreneurs.

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 02: Amish farmer John Stoltzfoos (R) talks with a customer at the Union Square farmers market October 2, 2009 in New York City. Over the past decade, neighborhood farmers markets have increased 71 percent in the U.S., where consumers can purchase items from local producers. In July, the Department of Agriculture reported that almost 4,900 markets now operate across the country, an increase of about 5% from the end of last year. Concerns over global food safety and an interest in purchasing locally have helped spur the increase along with citizens becoming more "home-centered" in the struggling economy. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Mario Tama / Staff

Burgeoning Bezoses, take note: Ruthlessness and cunning aren’t the only attributes that will get you ahead. As The Guardian reports, Amish and Mennonite business owners stay on top of trends while remaining true to their values.

Going from ag to cultural 

Mennonite and Amish community members are known for low-tech — or no-tech — lifestyles. They often dress in modest clothes and drive horses and buggies. Some operate farms that have been in their families for generations. 

But staying in business means adapting with the times, and the foodie movement has been a boon to some.

In Kutztown, Pennsylvania, 3 men transformed a 200-year-old barn into a contemporary farmers’ market where church members sell locally grown produce as well as artisanal items like handcrafted pastries, bourbon-flavored honey, and garlic-flavored cheese curds. Fancy a cappuccino? They’re made with milk produced on nearby dairy farms.  

But there’s more to success than cinnamon buns

A sociologist who studies Amish communities found that 95% of new Amish businesses are still going strong after hitting the 5-year mark. That’s remarkable given only half of startups usually make it that long. 

But Amish values lend themselves to business practices that contribute to a high success rate. These include:

Investment in hyper-local economies. Community members will go out of their way to support one another and their local businesses. And because many Amish don’t drive, it’s especially important to have a strong local economy with ample services and products.

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