This column is by writer, communication Strategist and speaker, Ryan Foland
Growing plants isn’t as easy as it seems.
First, you need to take the temperature and climate of your area into consideration, as well as find a place with decent soil and adequate sunlight to plant the seeds.
Then, you have to continually water the seeds until they bloom into seedlings. The seedlings then require much tending and care, but, as a result, they’ll sprout into full-grown adult plants.
It’s the same process to grow a company: it requires much care, many steps, and lots of follow-through. Here are five vital ingredients to growing your green business that you can learn from:
How to grow your business like a plant.
Number one: The right soil.
You need to do some serious research and soul-searching on where you would like to plant the seeds for your company to grow. Take into consideration the fertility of the area in regards to potential customers, and be aware of dangers that may infringe on the growth of your company.
It is better to wait and plant your business in the right spot than to hurry and plant roots in a regrettable location.
Here are some examples of good areas:
- Brick and mortar. Do you have credit, cash, and stamina to take over a permanent brick-and-mortar retail location? The idea may sound more glorious than the reality due to the expense, upkeep, and occasionally challenging relationships with landlords. Oftentimes, you are forced to sign a 5- to 10- year lease. If your business fails, the financial burden of this liability will not disappear like your business. Landlords will continue to come after any and all assets if you decide, or the market decides, that your business is no longer able to operate.
- Pop-up. The ice cream truck and the ice cream wagon have mobility for good reason. They have the ability to move their storefront wherever they want, whenever they want. Consider a pop up store: if your green business doesn’t need to be tied to one location, it gives you the advantage of bringing your store to multiple locations. This type of soil has wheels.
- Online. Do you even need a storefront or a pop-up? Run your operations successfully online. There are an amazing amount of resources that allow businesses to operate as though they were a retail store without the hassle of a lease and physical location. Think of it as virtual soil.
- Co-working space. There is a new popular trend called co-working space, which allows you to work within a physical location for a fraction of the cost because you’re sharing the space with other entrepreneurs. Think of it like a gym membership for entrepreneurs, where you have shared facilities, mailing address, and many of the benefits of an office outside of your home. Working out of a co-working space would be like planting your seeds in someone else’s lawn to offset the costs.
Number two. Plenty of sun
In order for plants to grow, you need sunlight. In gardening terms, shade can reduce the amount of sunlight on your plants, causing them to lose the nutrients they need to continue to grow.
In business, competitors who are more aggressive in marketing or capture more market share cast shadows, reducing the proverbial sunlight to your business, reducing the nutrients it needs to grow. When choosing a location, or deciding an area to do business, make sure you have a clear understanding of the competitive landscape.
Individuals and businesses who have already been established in communities have first-mover advantage, and often times will take great steps to weed out new growth in their area because they may see a new business as a threat. As a result, they will do their best to block the sunlight (AKA new customers) from walking into your doors or ordering products from your business.
Number three. Plenty of water.
For plants, water is essential for life and growth. For businesses, cash flow is essential for life and growth. Too often, entrepreneurs forget the importance of cash flow. Cash is the amount of money that you have after you’ve deducted all costs: goods, employees, rent, marketing, and numerous other factors.
It is easy to look at the amount of money coming in and forget about the amount of money going out. Have a clear idea of your cash flow; running out of cash as a green business is like running out of water as a growing plant.
Number four. Prune your plants.
It seems counter intuitive to grow something only to have to cut it back. In business, oftentimes work focuses on the trivial many, and less attention placed on the vital few.
Conceptually, a majority of an employee’s day is done by working on remedial tasks that are not crucial or important to the business’ survival. Think of these tasks as too-long leaves on a growing plant.
By evaluating and cutting back on unnecessary procedures, and ensuring focus on the core and most valuable aspects of your business, you will actually allow your company to grow faster. I recommend The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch, which explains the breakdown of how this principle can help your business grow faster sooner and more effectively.
Number five. The right gardeners.
Sometimes we feel like we need to do a job ourselves to make sure it gets done right.
This concept is important and relevant both for gardening and growing your own green business. The individuals tending the plants and the employees maintaining the day-to-day operations of your business are crucial to success and growth.
Your team of employees should be thought of as gardeners tending to the plants of your growing business. There are good gardeners and bad gardeners, and there are good employees and bad employees.
You need to make sure that your bring on the right team to tend to the garden; otherwise, you will still fail to grow. You need to make sure that you are doing the right jobs within the gardening responsibilities.
Sometimes you may feel like you can do it all. In reality, you have strengths and you have weaknesses. Do what you do best and have other people do the rest. Focusing on utilizing employee strengths will make them better gardeners, keeping your Green business growing.
Good luck growing your business!
Would love your comments and additional ingredients that would be useful! Comments welcome!
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