Young Agriculture Entrepreneur | 3 Japanese Business Attitudes from “Saka-no-tochu Co. Ltd”
Yesterday I attended a seminar about Agriculture Entrepreneurship, presented by “Saka-no-tochu Co. Ltd”, a new company aimed at popularizing organic farming in the world.
The speaker – Kunihiko Ono, is a 30 year-old young entrepreneur who founded “Saka-no-tochu” (means “on the slope [to somewhere]”) in 2009. He worked with organic famers in Japan and created several projects to promote organic farming in Japan and oversea. Check out these web sites to grasp an idea of what he is doing.
Saka-no-tochu Co. ltd Official website (English available)
Saka-no-tochu Webshop – Here you can buy organic vegetables online.
Beside selling organic vegetables, “Saka-no-tochu” also cooperates with Uganda farmers to cultivate organic sesame with the intention of eliminating the environment contamination in Uganda.
I love Ono san’s presentation, especially the conclusion that he talked about what business is. Here I would like to share the words I learned from him with you.
3 Things Ono San Has Done for His Business and 3 Things He Hasn’t
In the conclusion part, Ono san wrapped it up with talking about what he has done for his business and what he hasn’t.
3 things that Ono san has done:
#1 Clarify the objective and message you want to tell
Business is not about how much and how fast money you can make. It is about “How much value you can create to the society”.
Most of the entrepreneur companies go bankrupt because they don’t have a clear objective for their business, an empathetic message to send to the society. In other words, are you creating value to others? Would anybody sympathize with your message and help you achieve your goal?
These are the basic of a successful business.
#2 Build a system that moves people and can win their cooperation easily
You have a clear message and vision now and people buy it. But how can they help you?
You need a system that makes people able to cooperate easily with you. This includes connection, capital, facilities, plan, and etc. You need to create an “user-friendly” environment, that when people say they want to help you, you can give clear proposals on how to cooperate.
For instance, Ono san started with selling organic vegetable on the street every Friday. And from that, he attracted many interest groups to cooperate with him such as farmers, detailers, local people.
#3 Give full support to farmers and consider them as partners (Cherish the most important thing)
In agriculture, farmers are the most important party. Without farmers, organic food business will not be able to sustain. Therefore, Ono san cares about the farmers. He doesn’t see them as somebody whom he can take advantage of. He sees them as partners.
You need to identify the most important elements in your business, and give full support to it. We succeed together, we fail together. Otherwise, your business will not be sustainable.
3 Things Ono san Does Not Do:
1. Spend money on advertisement
2. Conventional sales activities (door-to-door sales, phone sales, etc)
3. Price cut
Often, we think that the latter 3 things are called business. We all tend to think that people who conduct sales, advertising, price competition are doing “business”.
However, the real business attitude should be the former 3 things. According to Ono san, only people who can’t make real business, will focus on practicing the sales activities.
If you have a clear objective and message you want to tell the society.
If you have a system to make people want to be your partner.
If you take people who help you as your partners instead of just people you take advantage of.
If you can do these, money will come to you. That’s when a real business works.
Now is your turn. I was inspired by Ono san for these words. From now on, whatever I try to do, I will keep in mind to ask myself “Am I creating value to others?”. What about you? If you have other ideas of business attitude, share with us. 🙂
Here are some pictures during the seminar.