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Why Amish Businesses Thrive

About a month ago I received an email from Erik Wesner asking me to review his new book “Success Made Simple: An Inside Look at Why Amish Businesses Thrive [1].”  I said “Yes” because I was completely intrigued by the topic.  This is about the second time in as many months as I’ve seen Amish and business success linked together. And I couldn’t wait to receive the review copy of the book and see what all the chatter was about.

Success Made Simple [1]I wondered what it was about Amish simplicity that called to Erik Wesner over the siren song of technology, social media-driven relationships and mobile apps that the rest of us have been following.

Erik Wesner Was Inspired By The Amish

After getting about a hundred pages into the book, my curiosity got the best of me.  So I reached out with an e-mail and asked Erik Wesner what inspired him to become an expert on the Amish and to write this book.  Here’s what he said:

“I was really impressed by the caliber of Amish companies.  All the informal indicators were there; these small shops were very busy, they were getting a lot of outside attention, and even in plain Amish society you could see indicators of financial success among the businesspeople.

I ran my own business in Amish  communities.   After selling in non-Amish communities, you see certain cultural contrasts.  And that is what intrigued me.  This includes everything from an appreciation for books, to an inherent anti-waste mentality, to an emphasis on relationships.  For instance, I found Amish always know their neighbors, something I found a lot less likely in “English” communities (and I’m guilty of this myself).  Not to “nostalgize” the Amish too much, but I feel a lot of these traits are things we once “knew” as a society but have maybe lost touch with a bit. “

Everything Old is New Again

This is a wonderful book given the volatile state of the business climate these days.  There’s nothing like going back to basics when the world around you is changing.  And that’s exactly what “Success Made Simple” does. This book is really multi-functional depending on how you choose to read it.

You can read it as a research report.  Erik Wesner interviewed dozens of Amish business owners and entrepreneurs.  You really get an appreciation of Wesner’s relationship skills when you learn how humble these Amish entrepreneurs are.  Unlike today’s titans of industry, these low-key business heroes are authentically surprised at why we should think that what they’re doing is all that special.  In fact, they shy away from taking any personal credit or pride in their success.  Instead, choosing to put the focus where it belongs – in the hands of God.

You can read it as a story or a real-life novel.  Erik does a masterful job of weaving an engaging story around his experiences within the Amish business community.   You’ll meet dozens of Amish business owners who quietly share their “secrets” to running a business, growing a business, hiring people and building lasting and profitable relationships with their customers.  You’ll find yourself getting close to these admirable characters.

And when you DO read this, here are just a few of the principles you’ll learn:

At the end of each chapter, Wesner pulls together a simple summary that pulls all the interviews together into a summary of core principles.  Here is an example of some points from the sales and marketing chapter:

Here is my favorite point from the “Doing Unto Others” chapter.

The recent economic meltdown has made me a big fan of a “back to basics” strategy.   And now you have a book [1] that gives you everything you’ll need to help you take a fresh new look at your core business.