Business lessons from the garden

What a year for gardening!  Just when it threatens to get too hot, a thunderstorm shows up and showers the sun-soaked flowers and vegetables.  My garden loves it!  But elsewhere in town, the heavy rains have submerged tomatoes and petunias…a soggy end to this year’s crop.

That’s the thing about gardening.  It can be rewarding and spiritually uplifting.  It can inspire you with its beauty and bounty.  Or, it can disappoint you beyond words.  It can humble you, until you feel as low as the soil.

Most years, I put in a garden.  Each year, I have been humbled.  However, this year, I am
offto a rockin’ start.  This year I feel like the Fine Gardening Cover Girl.  I have beets, cabbage, squash, and tomatoes.  All kinds of herbs.  The potatoes are almost ready, and my asparagus is three years old, so we’ve been eating lots of asparagus.  This year I am delighted.  Unlike the last few years, when weeds, bugs and my lack of attention doomed my plants to oblivion.

All you need to know about business, you can learn in the garden.  The garden is a metaphor for life in general, business in particular.  Here are a few Biz Lessons from the Garden:

  1. Put a Plan together.  Draw it up.  Research companion planting.  Do a little study and you will have a much better garden – and business – than if you just hoped and prayed.  It’s more rewarding to set an intention and co-create it, too!
  2. 15 minutes a day beats 2 hours once a week.  Do a little bit everyday.  In fact, just walk out there and look at the garden.  It will make its needs known, if you just pay attention.  It takes time to create a garden.  You can’t hold off until August to plant your tomatoes.  You can’t neglect the garden for weeks, and then hope to catch up by pulling an all-nighter.  Take a few minutes everyday to touch base with your employees, and your customers.  Look over the numbers.  Pay attention.
  3. There will be weeds, but there will be unexpected heroes as well.  Weeds are inevitable, and no big deal if you stay after them.   It’s easy to pluck the little suckers, or knock the legs out from under them.  Find and handle problems when they are little, before they choke the life out of your business.  And appreciate the serendipitous appearance of an unexpected hero.   Isn’t it wonderful to discover a patch of sunflowers, volunteering from last years scattered seeds?  How about hiring Suzy to be your receptionist and discovering she has excellent communication skills, and can analyze financial reports?
  4. Summer goes by quickly, but is plenty of time to create something incredible.  Seems like you can blink, and the summer is over.  However, 12 weeks is enough time to grow three rounds of lettuce, potatoes as big as softballs and a pumpkin the size of your Uncle Sherman.  A lot can happen, if you do your part.  12 weeks is one quarter in your fiscal year.  It is enough time to hire and train several employees, and find dozens…hundreds? …of new customers, and get very profitable.
  5. Use the off-season to plan the next season.  As the cold weather sets in and the garden comes to rest, jot down your observations and reflections.  Set yourself up for next summer.  All businesses have a slow time.  For some, it’s all winter long.  For others, it is from midnight to 4 am.  Take time during the pause to assess recent experiences, and plan for the next go around.
  6. The work is never done.  Your garden, and your business, is always in flux.  Picture a rose…budding, growing, blooming, fading.  It’s either growing or dying.  It is never static.  But, the overall effect of many roses living through their life cycles can be stunningly beautiful.  So it is with your business.  Some projects will take off; others will stall out and fade away.  Keep pruning, weeding and nurturing.
  7. Abundance is essential to success.  Split open a watermelon.  How many seeds will you find?  In its efforts to survive, nature knows abundance is the key.   Some seeds will fall on hard ground, and birds will eat others.  Only one is necessary for the watermelon’s continued existence.  But, the watermelon puts out thousands of seeds to ensure that one makes it.  In your business, go for abundant profits.  If you try to squeak by, you will not make it.  Stuff happens, that eats up profits.  Think abundance and price accordingly.
  8. Success is a balance of your determinism and hard work, and divine intervention.   But, where does your work end and God’s begin?  Certainly, you must do the spadework, but some things are beyond your control.  Like the weather.  How much work on your part is enough?  When is it time to step back and pray for guidance or intervention?  I don’t know.  That’s what makes the adventure so interesting.

Which reminds me of a story…“Once upon a time, a gardener was tending to his flower beds.  A passerby stopped to compliment him on the fragrantly blooming flowers and shrubs.  Careful not to let the gardener think he – a mere mortal – had created such a masterpiece, the passerby said, ‘What a lovely garden God has created here.’  To which the gardener responded, ‘Yes, I’ve been blessed by his rain and sun and soil and birds and bees.  But, you should have seen this place when God had it all to himself.’”

xo$, Ellen

PS….A Plan can make the difference between a tangle of weeds and a bounty crop…in your garden and in your business.  I challenge YOU to put a business plan together.  Check out The Biz Plan Challenge – Home Edition.  I recorded a series of webinars with other business owners as we put our Biz Plans together.  Listen in, follow along…you can build a profitable, awe-inspiring business!  Or, you could let another season go by….

PPS…This is a re-issue of an article I wrote a few years ago.  Like all “true north” messages, the lessons from the garden are timeless.  Thought I would share it again.  The video is brand new.  Enjoy!  xo$