The Nature of Business

As I combine my two main morning routines, working on our property and reading the Wall Street Journal, I’m struck by how similar these two seemingly different “worlds” really are.

There are significant parallels between gardening and business. We even use gardening terms to describe key elements of business activities. At the early stages of a business, we talk about seed money to get things started. Once things are moving forward, the focus shifts to growing market share so that the business can stay viable. We even manufacture our products in plants.

When things are going well, we speak of reaping profits or harvesting profits. When things are not going so well, we might cut expenses by pruning the workforce or weeding the product line. Failure to adjust to changes in market conditions may cause certain products or even whole companies to die on the vine.  Perhaps the best way to find an increase in sales is to grow the business organically.

As you can see, there is a lot of garden speak in our business talk. If we could go beyond just using gardening words and start thinking of our company as a living thing that needs tending, we would most likely increase the yield of the business.

The garden is a wonderful metaphor for a business. A good business leader ensures that the right sort of people are selected and planted in good soil so that they have the optimal chance for success.

The business garden is well tended when there is every opportunity for growth. The prickly problems, weeds, are quickly identified and pulled out of the way. By removing the weeds, the business allows their people and products to grow rather than being distracted by things that don’t belong there in the first place. The weeds also drain the company resources away from what you are trying to accomplish.

The proper light and rain, perhaps in the form of cross-training and more challenging assignments, can go a long way towards personal and professional growth. One can’t simple plant employees in a cube, walk away and get the desired results. Nor can you release a product and leave it to fend for itself in the wild.

Look over your business as if it was a garden and what do you see? Do you have the right kind of soil (offices, IT systems, organization chart) to attract the type of people and products you want? Are you using the right type of fertilizer (training, clear vision and mission, promotional track) to help your organization grow strong and rapidly? Are you removing the weeds (unnecessary meetings, unclear policies, and conflicting priorities) that would choke off the growth of your staff? Are you pruning the garden (ending dead products, removing underperforming staff, and cutting policies that aren’t helpful) so that the best of your people and products have the room that they need to grow?

Well before the first company was formed and the first business organizational chart was drawn, people have been growing gardens. A well tended garden, which requires daily and detailed attention, can yield many times more than a similarly sized garden that doesn’t receive the same focus.

The garden is a great metaphor for a business.

The common sense approach is to pay the daily and detailed attention necessary to see your business grow like a well-tended garden.

Common Sense Business Principles
Founder Michael Johnson, Professional Speaker