The Success Rate of Amish Entrepreneurs


Who has some of the most successful businesses around? It seems to be Amish entrepreneurs according to an article on;

Amish businesses have an eye-popping 95% success rate at staying open at least five years, according to author Erik Wesner's new book, Success Made Simple: An Inside Look at Why Amish Businesses Thrive.

In the US the average five-year survival rate for new businesses is less than 50%, so for any group to have a 95% survival rate is impressive. What makes them so successful? One key may be that Amish business owners work in areas that they know well. Furniture making companies are common among the Amish, for example, with hand-crafted items being one of the biggest sellers. But you won't see an Amish night club or car dealership.

Common cultural values, like cooperation and hard work, probably play a role in Amish success as well. The article briefly profiles Myron Miller, an Amish businessman in Millersburg, Ohio;

He started his company 15 years ago and now has two separate entities: Four Corners Furniture, a retail furniture-making operation open to the public, and Miller Bedroom Wholesale, which sells directly to distributors. Miller employs 12 full-time workers and two part-timers.

Not bad for someone with an eighth grade education, which is where the Amish routinely end their formal schooling.

Early on Miller saw that the tourists who came to the area made for a great market for quality handmade furniture. He expanded hi business beyond the local area though, and now has his furniture being sold by 75 dealers around the country. He works with others in a "hardwood furniture guild" and his company has no website. Miller is not ignorant of modern marketing and business practices though. He reads business books and has attended seminars by motivational speaker Zig Ziglar.

It is estimated that there are around 9,000 Amish businesses in the US. Not all of these business people are entrepreneurs however. many have small operations in or near home that employ a few people at most, and are meant to simply provide a living. Others are true Amish entrepreneurs, who seek to market and grow their companies.

Interestingly, those entrepreneurs who are Amish succeed despite having more restrictions than other business people have. The article notes;

Wesner says that while the Amish have made allowances and will, for instance, make products that they don't use themselves -- like designer-label leather clothing or high-priced toys -- they won't touch any business "that may be seen as morally questionable." Don't hold your breath waiting for an Amish-owned casino, liquor store or debt collection service.

But modern touches are creeping into the business scene. Some Amish retailers use electricity in their shops, more as a nod to customers who expect air-conditioning and credit-card machines. They're often fueled with alternative energy sources, like solar and wind power.

Some Amish entrepreneurs are now using cell phones and fax machines, but they tend to only do so as necessary. There is no prohibition against such modern technologies in the Amish culture, but there is a general teaching that life should be kept as simple as possible, and that technologies should not be used in a way that detracts from more important values.

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