I have been a fan of garden-fresh vegetables for well over a decade, and recited numerous sayings about the sheer abundance that can come from properly planting one seed. Until now, I only understood them from conceptual or theoretical perspective.
Thanks to the dedicated efforts and support of my amazing girlfriend, this season was my first garden experience. We planted beans, squash, bell peppers, zucchini cucumber, broccoli, and 4 different types of tomato. Throughout this first portion of the season, I am amazed at how those sayings ring true and how many business lessons can come from a garden.
Seed Is Important
Choosing the right plant for the location, season, neighboring plants, and soil is perhaps the first step in a great harvest. I cannot pretend to be an expert seed selector as we had several seeds that never sprouted, plenty that only grew for a few weeks, others that produced leaves without fruit, and some that had a short run before fizzling out.
We also had plenty that reached full maturity and still continue to provide delicious produce.
Leadership can use this analogy for recruiting ideal talent and knowing where and when to implement it. Just like plants, some people/projects thrive when in the presence of certain others (or specifically NOT in presence of certain others). There is absolutely nothing you can do to make apple seeds grow cucumbers.
Marketing and sales professionals can use this analogy when identifying prospects and target customers. Some will do nothing in spite of great efforts on our behalf, while others grow and provide healthy yield. Experience and luck provide ample lessons to help us refine our placement, timing, and efforts. But we must be cautious enough to pay attention to them.
Nurturing Environment is More Important
We opted not so use any fertilizers, stimulants, or pesticides to help our garden grow. We started seeds indoors to protect when most delicate. We watered regularly and were diligent in pulling weeds. Plants were groomed to remove dead or overly damaged leaves to concentrate efforts as well as keep some plants contained. We provided cages, poles, string, and such to give structural support as well as protect from rabbits and squirrels. We moved one plant that was getting crowded, and totally discarded one that was no longer producing.
Managing a business is quite similar. We need to provide our people and our clients with tools, services, and support they need to grow. We must also know when it is time to limit their sprawl or remove them altogether. Sometimes, we get great production from re-assigning tasks/jobs.
Nurturing leads through a sales journey, we see some clients respond to different messages, content, and offers. We need to make sure we present a variety of options across multiple mediums to generate the conversations that benefit everyone.
Was It A Lot Of Work?
All in all, the amount of work was pretty minimal. Aside from the couple hours of running the tilling machine, most of it was limited to 20 min each day to keep the ecosystem working. The results have been incredible AND delicious. Through several rounds of blind tasting, we could always identify our produce over that of a grocery store. There was a depth, complexity, and richness in the taste and texture.
Clients who are purchased in bulk tend (acquisition or merger) tend to be more like grocery store produce – they are convenient and worthwhile, but lack some of the commitment and intensity to be really satisfying.
As our early summer garden winds down, we are planning a late season one to provide new flavors and experiences over the next few months. The final lesson is on the importance of recognizing the seasonal needs/desires of business. Some conversations are simply easier to have at certain times of the year.