My mind started wandering when I was doing a routine and boring task last week and I found myself thinking about the similarities between gardening and business.
These are some of the connections I have made between the two.
There is a time for everything (and everything in its time):
- time for preparing
- time for seeding
- time for growing
- time for nurturing
- time for flowering/fruiting
- time for pruning
- and time to start all over again
Preparing and Seeding: There are certain conditions needed for a seed to grow. The soil needs to be the right type, have the right pH level and have enough moisture to start the seed growing. The seed also needs to be planted in the right season so that the seedling is not impacted by frost or the scorching sun.
It is just as important to conduct research about the industry you want to start a business in, whether your products/services are required and where to find your potential clients. It is also important to work out how you will fund your business and how to manage the cash flow. It is also important to have faith in your abilities and that it will all work out!
Growing: Some plants have foliage all year round. Others are bulbs, and the foliage only appears above ground at certain times of the year. But underneath they are waiting for their time – if they don’t get the right nutrients and water at the right time, they may not appear or flower.
It is important that even if you are not “selling” at the moment, to still be doing tasks that will help you in the future. For example, getting admin and tech systems in place to streamline processes, collecting feedback from previous customers to find out what works and what doesn’t. Conduct stock takes to measure available stock levels, invest in extra training to up-skill or cross-skill. Continue connecting with your followers so they remember who you are (and not just getting in contact with them when you have something to sell).
Nurturing – Weeding: Even in the best maintained gardens, weeds will grow. The difference is this, in a well maintained and organised garden, weeds are dealt with quickly (either with spraying or pulling out). They are not encouraged to spread or multiply. In a poorly maintained or disorganised garden, weeds tend to do as they please. Growing in all sorts of places, taking over garden beds and ruining the lawn.
In business, if you have systems in place and run regular checks or reports, you will notice if something is wrong. For example, if cash flow is down, why emails are not getting through or website visits are low. In a business without systems and processes, there can be many “holes” in various “buckets” and it can be difficult to find the leaks. This could lead to cash flow issues resulting in credit not being extended, too many abandoned carts on the website, email inbox full/overflowing causing missed sales opportunities. All this could then result in poor customer service and negative reviews. With general disorganisation, going from task to task (which ever screams the loudest at the time) and trying to multitask, this can result in reacting to spot fires instead of following a plan.
Nurturing – Watering: There are lots of things don’t grow and survive without water (admittedly some plants need very little water to survive). If we are paying enough attention we will see signs that our plants need water. Eg, the soil is dry, the leaves are dusty, drooping or dropping, fruit is not growing (or the fruit is sour).
The same as our business cannot survive without spending money. We are very lucky these days with the amount of free tools available to us to use in our business. We can connect with customers directly using social media by creating a Facebook page or Instagram accounts. We can use that to showcase our products and services, share behind the scenes and receive feedback and reviews.
We have apps such as Canva to help us create a variety of graphics, documents designs etc. Other apps to schedule posts (Meta Business Suite, Later and Plann to name a few), increasing efficiency. Even some websites can be built for very little! (and there are plenty of free WordPress plugins to increase functionality). Email marketing is taken care of with Mailchimp or Mailerlite, or a basic Gmail account can do too. In fact, there are an enormous amount of apps within Google that can aid your business for FREE! But sometimes, more options or functionality is needed and that is when paying for the extras helps to kick it up a gear. Just like investing in an automated watering system (and/or grouping certain plants together) will help get the water to the right plants at the right time.
Flowering: All the work that has been done in the garden has been leading up to this point. The flowering and fruiting of a plant. Now it is time to spend some time enjoying the displays and eating the fruit.
In business, this is when we have fully stepped into the arena, we are making sales and we are recognised as an industry leader and/or expert. We can celebrate our wins and we have more than enough opportunities coming our way.
Pruning: Every gardener knows that some plants grow better after they have been pruned. Roses, for example, require yearly pruning and regular deadheading, this ensures that the growing energy goes into producing flowers (not just foliage). Fruit tress are another example. Regular pruning helps the tree to focus on the fruit. On the other hand, Geraniums and succulents need very little pruning (and you can even grow extra plants easily from the cuttings – value for money!!). There are also better times to prune than others – all depending on the plant in question.
So how does this apply in business? It is important to review the processes, systems, programs/apps and other services (eg phone/internet, power, insurances etc) to make sure they are firstly needed, secondly being used (and used to their full potential) and thirdly that you are getting the best deal or on the right tier with access to the necessary functions. If the answer is no, it is time to “prune” them back or completely off. (Note: check your contract T & Cs if applicable). This will help to keep your systems and processes more streamlined, your cash flow should improve and you will have less “holes in the cash bucket” to plug.
Starting Again: As the seasons change, there comes a different list of jobs to do in the garden. Sometimes it is necessary to remove or relocate plants. After a season or two they have reached the end of their life or you realise that they would do better in a different part of the garden (eg less sun, more sun, different soil etc).
There are times in business that you need to change direction or you simply want to offer different products/services. Unfortunately there maybe times where you need to step away from your business completely. Knowing when to step away and close a business down takes great courage and wisdom, but seek advice first. All is not lost, because in the wild, Australian native plants need fire to regenerate and to regrow. Use the lessons you have learnt to rebuild into something better, bigger, stronger and smarter.
I hope my thoughts and tips will help your garden as well as your business. If you would like someone to help you review your systems and services to make sure you are getting the best out of them, send me a DM or email. I’ll be happy to help.