My wife is from eastern Nebraska also known as the cornhusker state. Traveling thru eastern Nebraska, just about all you can see is corn and more corn. The lack of visual diversity often causes abstract thoughts to dominate my self-talk as the miles click by. During a trip one summer, I realized that an ear of corn can teach us much about a critical characteristic of an entrepreneurial mindset.
If you were given an ear of corn today you would have a few options. You could:
- Eat the ear of corn and receive nourishment today.
- Forgo the nourishment from the corn today and save/hoard the ear for its seeds, which you could sell or plant at a later date.
- Forgo the nourishment from the corn today and plant the seeds and have lots of corn plants with hundreds of ears of corn by this time next year.
- Combine the options: eat some of the corn, save some of it, and wait and plant some.
The prevailing culture in American is one of instant gratification, which translates into our business culture. Most Americans if given the ear of corn would simply eat it. But how hard would it be to eat most of the corn today and save just a few kernels so you could plant them next year?
On average, a single ear of corn has about 800 kernels. Would you really miss the nourishment from not eating a few of the seeds? After all, an investment of saving just one seed from consumption could by next year grow an entire plant with multiple 800 kernel ears from each kernel you didn’t eat today but instead planted next season.
Many business owners leach every dollar of profit to support a conspicuous consumption-oriented lifestyle for themselves today. They live in “daylight compartments” and consume all that their businesses produce. Life is good in the short term since they ate their entire ear of corn. However, these businesses will soon become part of the statistics on business failure.
By contrast, a person who is willing to deny themselves the satisfaction of eating the entire ear of corn today, and start by just keeping a few kernels for seed stock to plant next year, will in only a year or two never be wanting for corn ever again. And it all started with saving just a few seeds from the first ear. Therefore a critical lesson can be gleaned about a person’s entrepreneurial mindset based upon their actions if asked to think about what they would do it given just a single ear of corn.
Too many small business owners do not make the needed investments in their businesses to allow them to grow.
Are you guilty of taking too much of your business and not investing in its future?