Business Lessons from Mother Nature

I love May.  It’s my favorite month of the year.  For me, it represents all kinds of new beginnings… my wedding anniversary, Mother’s Day, and both my children’s birthdays (a lucky coincidence) all fall in May.  And on top of that, it’s the beginning of gardening season.

Every year when it’s still kind of crappy and cold outside but I start to see glimmers of extra sun and snow gradually gives way to rain, I start planning out my garden.  I mostly include fruits and veggies because, although I enjoy pretty flowers as much as the next person, I’m also very practical.  The joy of growing plants is that you get to eat them at the end, and I love seeing how best to optimize my crops.

I’ve also noticed over the years that growing a garden is very similar to building a business.  There are a lot of useful tips for business owners who pay attention to gardening.

Plant What Grows Well in Your Region

I live in Colorado.  We don’t grow a lot of oranges around here, because frankly, we don’t have the growing season for it.

Similarly, find out what your company does well, and focus on that.  If you’re an expert in the construction industry, put your time and energy into developing products and services around what you know and love.  Trying to build something you know nothing about is like trying to grow something in a hostile environment.  Of course, you can do it, but you might need to consider moving to Florida (figuratively speaking) before you can make it work.  Make it easy on yourself by growing what you already know and love.

Thin Your Plants

When you first plant seeds, you plant many more seeds than you actually expect to turn into plants.  Of course, not all seeds will germinate.  But when they do well, you’ll inevitably need to thin your plants to keep them growing strong.

The Pareto Principle (also known as the 80/20 rule) states that 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers.  Also, 80% of your headaches come from 20% of your customers.  Especially when your business is a service business, be extremely picky when you’re deciding which customers to allow into your firm.  By taking on anyone with a pulse, it’s likely you won’t be able to provide the best service to everyone.  Thin your customers so you keep only the strongest, healthiest, and most vibrant ones.  You will have a greater harvest, and you’ll have more pleasure doing it.

 Feed Your Garden

You don’t just stick plants in the ground and expect a bountiful harvest at the end of the season.  You’ll need to care for your plants by giving them appropriate water and food.

Similarly, you need to tend to your customers.  You don’t just bring them into your firm and expect everything to take care of itself.  You need to nurture the relationship between you and your customers.  Let them know they are well cared for… in whatever way that means for your business.  If they are loyal customers, maybe give them a gift card on their anniversary of business with your company.  Just feed the relationship somehow.

Weed Your Garden

Weeds are not only unattractive, but they take up growing space in your garden.  They also steal the water and nutrients you have intended to be given to your plants.

Make sure that you have a business environment that is healthy for your customers.  Pull out toxic people, whether that’s employees or customers, and antiquated practices that make the environment unhealthy for your business.  Keep your environment in good maintenance, and it’ll keep your business healthy and strong.

Whether you’re growing a garden or growing a business, the principles are the same… plan well and take care, and you’ll have the most successful outcome possible.