Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, How Does Your Business Grow?
During my recent interview with Landscape Gardener and “Professional Outdoorist” Lynne Allbutt I realised that planning, creating and maintaining a garden can be similar to starting a business and ensuring it “grows”. So here are a few analogies to help make your business grow.
# 1. Planning Stage
When you begin creating your garden you wouldn’t just start digging, you’d plan the garden design and what you want the finished product to look like. How big will it be? What will you need to produce it? How will you do it? What will it cost? In the same respect think about what you want to achieve in your business and the products or service you will provide.
Different weather climates will determine what you can grow in your garden just like different economic climates will suggest what you can do in your business.
Plan your trees and shrubs – these are the skeleton of the garden and therefore the base of your business.
You need a solid Oak to be the mainstay which would be the umbrella type of your product or service.
Your Perennials are your constant business providing an income year after year with a slight ebb and flow.
The Annuals are the products or services that will come and go. They are your shiny, window dressing, loss leaders. Don’t hide them behind the Oak Tree as they are needed to attract the attention.
Think about all of this and it will help to create a business plan to map it out. Be clear about your outcome and what you want from your business – if you plant an acorn you’re not going to get a sunflower.
# 2. Landscaping
After you’ve planned what you’re going to do you start the work; dig the flower beds, lay the patio and fix the decking. Landscaping your business can be drilled down to:-
Teamwork – employ the team needed for your business (if you need one)
Preparing – prepare the groundwork for the business – roll your sleeves up and start digging
Garden Centre – choose your best supplier, what you need and stock up
Sow Seeds – start the processes needed to create your product or service
Cultivate – stimulate growth by networking, advertising and marketing your business
# 3. Maintenance
A garden needs constant maintenance just like a business cannot be left to grow without being monitored constantly. For example:-
Pruning – get rid of the dead wood processes or products that aren’t working
Analysis – investigate why there were failures and adapt for the future
Support – just like growing stems sometimes need support or they fall over, don’t be afraid to ask for help so you don’t fail. There are several passionate professionals who are happy to share their knowledge, sometimes for free or cheaply. You don’t know until you ask.
Maintain – trim the edges of your garden. Keep costs down if possible and keep your accounts up to date so you know what is working and what is not.
Feed – feed your business as is needed whenever possible – whether it involves money or time investment.
# 4. Growth
And finally Patience. It takes a while for your garden to grow the same as it will with your business. It doesn’t happen overnight but will give you great pleasure as it does. Expect to work hard to keep your business going, especially in the early stages. “Gardening requires lots of water – most of it in the form of perspiration.” (Lou Erickson).
Many thanks to Lynne Allbutt who helped with the gardening phrases – and much more as always.
Obviously this is just a loose reference to starting a business and I’d welcome all comments with handy advice for start-ups.
Merry Christmas to all and wishing everyone a wonderful and successful 2012.