Cultivating Your Business Like a Garden
You’re probably familiar with the movie line, “If you build it, [they] will come.” From the film Field of Dreams, it’s the encouragement one man needs to build a baseball diamond in a cornfield, despite the risks.
Build It, Then Nurture It
Businesses can’t just be built and left to grow on their own, though. Like Ray Kinsella, who uttered that famous line in Field of Dreams, there will be challenges. In order to find any measure of success, a business needs to be cultivated like a garden. It requires a watchful eye, the right tools, and a lot of nurturing in order to produce anything.
Choose the Right Seed
All brands start with an idea– the seed. Inside is the potential for new life, which in business can translate to profits, or relationships with vendors and clients. Some ideas, like seeds, are more viable than others, so it’s important to know what you’re planting and growing before investing all your effort in one.
Find the Right Environment
A good garden takes careful planning. You need to scope out the right spot with adequate sunlight and rich soil. You may also need to add trellises to support climbing plants, or netting to protect your garden from hungry critters. Your garden needs access to water, whether you build an irrigation system or rely on rainwater. While some seeds do manage to take root in harsh growing conditions, it’s not a risk most gardeners are willing to take.
Like a garden, your business can thrive in the right environment. This may mean opening a brick-and-mortar store in the right physical location or spending your marketing money to reach the right demographic. It may also mean surrounding yourself with certain people- you want a team that fosters growth, and creates an ideal work environment.
Use the Best Tools
You’re not going to cut your lawn with a pair of scissors, so why would you try to use the wrong management software in your business? To get the most accurate forecasting, inventory management, and data security you need to invest in the right business tools. Google spreadsheets are great for small-scale organizing, but do they offer real-time insight into where your products are, or who’s buying them?
Running a business can eat up a lot of time if you’re not using the right tools or hiring the right people. And we all know time = money, so it shouldn’t be wasted. Just like a garden’s growing season, there’s a time for everything, including rest. If you’re constantly consumed with managing your business, it’s probably time to explore software or experts that can help.
Let Things Germinate
When scoping out the neighborhood, it can seem like the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. The same can be said in business; from the outside, it may appear that a competitor experienced overnight success. We wonder why their product is seemingly everywhere. The truth is, every seed and every idea needs time to germinate. We can’t see how hard a seed is working underground to break out of its shell and send up a sprout. Likewise, we don’t see the blood, sweat, and tears our competitors are investing in their business in order to get results.
Running a business involves having the right mindset, and knowing when to be patient and when to plow ahead. If you need a reminder that sometimes things just need more time, take a look around and notice the towering trees outside. Did they reach their full height after just a few weeks?
A seasoned gardener knows that you can’t repeatedly plant the same seeds or starts in the same plot year after year. After a successful harvest, it can be tempting to plant the exact same crop the following year in order to get the same results. Doing so, however, depletes the soil of nutrients. Without a break, the soil can’t satisfy future plants’ needs. Additionally, the same ol’ produce gets old after a while.
We’re often advised not to mess with a good thing- if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! In business, however, sometimes you have to diversify in order to reach a new audience and encourage growth. This may mean finding additional products or services that complement what you already have, or introducing a new product altogether. As with gardening, diversification should always be done with thoughtful research and planning. There are specific plants that can reintroduce vital nutrients into the soil after one crop is spent. In business, there will be more practical changes to implement than others.
When considering diversification, as yourself:
- Does this new idea offer a solution for current customers?
- Am I an expert on this offering (or is your team)?
- Is the market already saturated with this idea?
- What tools do we have already to create a strategy for success?
- What’s the end goal for diversifying?
It can be tempting to go all-in with a new idea, but Harvard Business Review suggests stacking the odds in your favor by doing your research first.
Tend to the Weeds
In a vegetable patch, weeds threaten to command resources for themselves. They grow taller than your pumpkin vines and block out the sun. Their roots hog all the nutrients in the soil so your peas starve. As a result, it’s necessary to remove these problems from your garden to allow your veggies to take center stage and fulfill their potential to produce flavorful tomatoes, zucchini, and more.
Running a business comes with its own challenges, and while one problem may not be overwhelming, when they all pile up it can stall your progress significantly. The weeds of business could be an underperforming website or employee, or a software vulnerability that needs to be addressed.
Sometimes the weed in our business is an idea that didn’t pan out how we’d hoped. As a result, it’s a drain on resources that could be otherwise diverted to different products. It can be difficult to remove a product or service that is underperforming, but sometimes it’s the pruning a business needs to sprout more successful growth elsewhere.
Think of your business software as a weed-killer. It can act as a barrier to prevent problems from arising, and it can help you eradicate ones that pop up. If your software doesn’t help you with payroll, supply chain management, and website analytics, is it doing enough to help nurture your business?
Reap the Benefits
A garden is a proven mood booster, and a carefully cultivated business should do the same. You should be able to look around both your garden and your business and see the literal fruits of your labors, whether they took one season or multiple to meet your expectations.