(inspired by plants)
It all starts with a seed, right? The seed is the big idea. Well, it’s often little actually. But maybe one day it’ll grow into something big. With the right ingredients and a lot of care and attention. Plants and trees are a bit different to businesses here though. Plants don’t need care and attention.
Seasoned gardeners across the country will no doubt be waving a green finger at us with that comment but we’re thinking nature, rather than horticulture. In nature, plants grow just fine without us. And all they need is…
Well, technically they also need carbon dioxide and the right temperature but this is a 4 minute read, not GCSE biology, so…
Your old potatoes may sprout a tuber in the cupboard but trees, plants (and even potato plants) need light to flourish. Sunlight provides plants with energy. And while all businesses need energy of course, the most useful business comparison is actually exposure rather than electricity.
All businesses need exposure. Unlike the famous quote, if you build it, no one will come. Unless they know about you. Exposure can come from many sources, but typically people will do one of two things. They’ll either search for what you do, or hear about what you’ve done. Make it easier.
Some plants also need to compete with others for sunlight, so they grow taller. To stand out. If you’re in a crowded marketplace, you’ll also need to go a little further, or do something a little different, in order to stand out. Be seen.
Not all plants are sun worshippers. Some love a bit of shade. The freckly type, probably. But apart from the odd cactus (and they are an odd, spiky bunch), most plants need to get enough water to avoid facing a bitter end. In fact, water is the lifeblood of pretty much every living thing on planet earth. And the lifeblood of any business? Cash flow.
Probably no surprise that the lack of cash is the biggest threat to SMEs. But in an age of digital disruption, the tide is beginning to turn. Send invoices, set up auto reminders and get paid online. From your phone.
And eCommerce could be the biggest saviour yet. Like retail, etail doesn’t entertain the old school principles of credit. It’s all about bitcoin, not bad debt. What could you productise? Sell online to get paid today.
Bet you thought our soil metaphor was gonna be location, right? Where to position or ‘plant’ your business. That’s important. But let’s say our ‘fertile soil’ is your work environment. Sure, displaying large-scale art and photography will have an impact on productivity. But creating the perfect ‘grow bag’ is also about connecting good people. The right mix of people will be the catalyst for a good working environment that nurtures talent, kindness, and creativity, allowing your business to blossom.
As an aside, we know not every plant needs soil. Bamboo is one notable success story of a plant that thrives without it or even much care and attention at all. Every so often, you do get those in the business world too. Uber perhaps?
The right mix
Every business is different. Every plant is different too. Each type of plant will need a slightly different mix of sunlight, water, and soil. And so each business. Some companies can succeed on the back of a marketing bandwagon. Some will thrive with very little budget but the right group of people. But what do most successful businesses have in common?
A bonus 4th (and perhaps the secret ingredient)
Plants grow in the toughest environments. Some will survive droughts. They break through layers of concrete in places. If there is one single thing each business can learn from a plant, it is attitude. Plants make no excuses. Instead, they push on, focused, resilient, determined. While at all times appreciating the rain, making the most of the sunshine, and generally just loving life.