Success Made Simple: An Inside Look at Why Amish Businesses Thrive

Success Made Simple is the first practical business guide based on Amish ideas.

9,000 Amish businesses thrive throughout North America.  This book examines why, and what lessons they can offer modern business owners.

It reads a bit like this blog does, chock full of anecdotes, stories, and 16 sidebars covering everything from the ‘Amish miracle heater’ to why you’ll find 47 David Yoders in one community.

I appear throughout as a supporting character, but the 60 Amish contributors, from home builders to accountants to furniture craftsmen and a buggy maker, are the focus.

Amish share ideas on management, marketing, efficiency, and keeping focus on big picture ideas such as family and community.  Donald Kraybill has kindly written a nice foreword.

And, there’s a lot of Amish dialogue.  Humorous, insightful, straight-shooting.

The half-dozen Amish friends and acquaintances who have read it already have given reviews ranging from ‘rock solid’ to ‘rave’ (if I can be so un-humble as to describe them in such un-Amish terms).

Ditto non-Amish who’ve previewed it-and what’s been surprising, and pleasing-that includes both business owners and non-business types.

And, I received only minor Amish scolding for a handful of early-draft errors, so I think I’ve managed to keep myself out of trouble here!

Ohio Amish solar lighting shop

Amish-owned Solar and lighting shop, Holmes County, Ohio

I’ll be posting more later, but if you’d like to guarantee a copy (and get me some brownie points with my publisher[!]), check out the pre-ordering option on Amazon (you’re also guaranteed the lowest price, should it drop between now and release on March 22, 2010).

I’ve also just noticed Amazon has slashed the price 34%-over 8 bucks off the cover price-so if you’re planning to, now may be a good time to pick it up cheap.

Regardless whether you are a business owner, interested in entrepreneurship, or not so much, I think you’ll really enjoy this book. It was a lot of work, and a bit of an adventure, to research and write it over the past three years.

And let me just say, I more than appreciate your support.  This blog is a labor of love-and a lot of fun-but without you to read it and interact with, it wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable.

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    1. Hey thanks Ruben! I wish it were sooner–though there may be an excerpt or two in future as a sneak peek on the blog.

      By the way are you still in the states or back to the Netherlands now?

    2. Just bought it, Erik! Can’t wait to read it! ~Suzanne

    3. Ruben

      MARCH 22nd??? Erik, you are teasing us!!! Isn’t there a special “people-who-can’t-wait-until-march22nd-package” ? 😉

      Congratulations anyway, it will be a huge succes.

    4. Congrats Erik! Looking forward to it!

    5. Thanks Adrian! following you on twitter now

    6. Bill

      For various reasons I haven’t ordered the book yet, though I will buy it one way or another. This link will give you some insight on how I feel about such things if you care to read it.

      I have no ties to the bookstore in that article, nor do I frequent it, I just cringe at the demise of “Mom and Pop” stores anywhere no matter what they sell.

    7. Small shops specialize to beat Wal Mart and other big box retailers?

      Hi Bill, I do appreciate you sharing this link and also appreciate your position. It’s an interesting article, and I’m usually a bit torn on this issue. On the one hand, large retailers like Wal Mart and Amazon can benefit consumers through lower prices, convenience, etc. On the other, I realize that superstores can hurt the little guys. At the same time, I almost think that these are or can be two different markets, and I think that the store owner hints at that in the article, when he talks about his clientele appreciating the ambience of his store, something that Amazon or Wal-Mart obviously don’t offer (ditto most big chains like B&N). I think that the big boys dent sales of small stores in some areas, especially the bestsellers, and may even put some out of business, but I feel that creative small booksellers can survive and even prosper by, for instance, catering to a specific clientele by altering the way they do business or providing something the others don’t–atmosphere, home-baked goods in the attached coffee shop, specialty titles, loyalty programs, in-store events, etc.

      Like you I do appreciate the Mom and Pop store, regardless of the industry, and I think that they often have an inherent appeal that big box outlets cannot replicate. That doesn’t automatically mean they’ll survive big business competition, but I think that a savvy owner can turn that appeal to his own advantage. In fact, not to turn this into a book plug, but writing this made me recall how this is part of the appeal of Amish companies, and it’s one that they make good use of as they cater to their specific markets.

      In any case, regardless how you may get ahold of my book, I of course appreciate your interest in it. As it happens, am just working on some final copyedit reviews now.

    8. Bill

      Hi Erik, I do realize my touting of the independent “Mom and Pop” bookstores is a bit Don Quixote-ish as many titles are not easily found in such operations and must be ordered in anyway, which means waiting and a return visit. I’m also being a bit hypocritical as I have no problem shopping the big box stores depending on what I’m looking for.
      In the end I’ll probably wind up in a Borders or Barnes and Noble store, not find the book, and go home and order it on Amazon, LOL.
      In the meantime may I wax nostalgic for awhile thinking of when just about all bookstores were independent, and we had corner drug stores with soda fountains where the pharmacist owned and operated the business, and penny candy stores, and family run grocery stores and…Oh, the good old days. 🙂

    9. I share the sentiment Bill, just where did we put those good old days…and then wonder if we’ll be saying the same thing in 2030 about ‘good old 2009’!!

      And on that note, i’ll take a cup of black in a broke down old diner over a starbucks mocha-chocha-whatever-ccino any day!

    10. Gregory Stutzman

      I will not set foot in a Walmart. No matter what I need or badly I need it.

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    13. Jess Arnsteen

      Looks like a fantastic book, Erik. Will be sure to pick it up. I am a senior at Colorado College, an entrepreneur, and budding agrarian. I am writing a history-philosophy thesis on Old Order Mennonite agriculture and community and will be doing some farmwork and research alongside a community in a couple weeks. Perhaps you can pass on some wisdom and we can begin a dialogue. Congrats with your new book.

    14. Steve Smith

      Erik, you may be quite happy with your current publisher. If so, please disregard my comment. I came across this “publisher” after ordering a book called “The Nicholas Effect”. It is a self-publishing You may already know about it. From the info there, you get more control over the process and it sounds like more money to you too. Guess you are a better judge on that. Looking forward to reading your new book.

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    17. Laura



      I am studying second high school in Barcelona and I am doing my final research proyect on the success of the Amish businesses. Also, I have read your book “Success Made Simple” that is helping me a lot to understand how they work.

      I am writing because it would be very important to me that you could answer a few questions, they will not take up much more than 5 minutes and it will be very useful to raise my qualification.

      Thanks for your time and consideration.

      Hope you will answer before next month begins.

      Yours sincerely,



      1.- First of all, what leads you to get interested in the Amish community?

      2.- What was your main purpose in writing this book and what kind of readers do you recommend it to?

      3.- It was easy to interview Amish entrepreneurs? They put any condition?

      4.- Do you think their way of doing business would succeed in Europe at this time?

      5.- In your opinion which you think are the three main keys to success in Amish business?

      6.- What most surprised you during this time?

      7.- And finally, are you planning to do other things related with economy?