Why did Kingston/RANEPA MBA students go to a farm? «Entrepreneurship Lessons from John Kopiski» - this is what the programme said. Agricultural entrepreneurship has recently become a very popular topic. The participants (some of them in suits and with suitcases – typical MBA look) have visited a farm, a cheese-factory, agro-touristic complex «Bogdarnya», stables and many more.
John Kopiski came to Russia from Great Britain in the beginning of 90s. He was involved in and tried different businesses, but over the time got greatly attracted to agriculture. Not without difficulties but his agricultural business is steadily developing. Over the period of time around 20 million USD have been invested, it is a profitable business now John says, but it hasn’t always been the case. How to maintain sustainability, what gives power to believe and move forward? What are the entrepreneurship lessons John shared with? Some things John told us directly, others we read between the lines.
Attitude to Risk.
«Entrepreneur has to take risk and should not be greedy. Twice we were a step away from bankruptcy but did not lose faith, got mobilised and every time found a way out.»
It is impossible to create complex business without family support, John has a great wife Nina who has equal entrepreneurship talent, and five children, most of whom are involved in business as well. «Our aim has always been to create business for our children. But we were ready to attract other shareholders if children do not support us – at the start that had been our choice not theirs.»
Once The President has tried milk from John’s farm at some agricultural fair, he liked the milk. Since that time John Kopiski’s farm is the landmark for the farmer-beginners, in 2021 John is to present at Saint Petersburg Economic Forum. «The best support from the state is long term credit and leasing of farming equipment», says John.
«To run a farm you should first of all know economics and finances. These are what I invest loads of my time in», explains John. John’s son Timofey continues his education, other key management staff continue studying as well. «I would like to be well informed about everything related to my job. Right now I study genetics, there are very few specialists on the subject, you have to work up to everything yourself », says the farm Director.
Love Your Job.
«For me the best time at the farm is 2 a.m. – the hustle has subsided and I can concentrate on thinking forward and planning things from my “captain bridge” at the farm.»
Positive Thinking and Attitude to Russia.
«Many people in Russia think that somewhere else it is much better. In America, elsewhere. Before I came to Russia I worked in many different countries all around the world and I am absolutely confident that Russia is a wonderful country. Though for all years in Russia I cannot get used to one Russian habit – to always critic and complain. The ugliest propaganda is Russians against Russians.»
Now John has Russian passport but for almost 20 years he has been working in Russia having a tourist visa. Here is John Kopiski, an English entrepreneur with a Russian soul. We are leaving the farm with a valuable collection of lessons learnt!