I seriously bought a book about Pruning when I was doing some gardening years ago. As I was reading, specific statements literally jumped off the page and finally things I was experiencing in my business became very very clear.
With the start of a new year, many of us are looking at ways to grow our businesses and how to bring forth more excellence for a higher quality of service.
I was reminded of this ‘natural’ way of growing and improving quality of flowers and fruit as I began documenting goals for 2013. I love the term ‘natural’, and I love the definition even more. Our accepted definition of ‘natural’ is “anything that occurs as a result of being a part of the universe”. When viewed this way, we see that natural phenomena are amazing teachers. Natural things don’t fight to be what they are, they just are. An apple doesn’t try to be an apple, it’s just an apple and it seems happy with the process of sun, rain, birds, and bees that it takes to become a full ripened beautiful fruit.
So the business tips I learned is based on “PRUNING” or ‘cutting away’. It’s funny to think that growing our business may have more to do with ‘doing less’. Many of us may be thinking ‘what more can I do’ and the solution may be to cut away and stop doing unfruitful activities and gain our margins by doing more of what works and none of what doesn’t!
The book I got is called “Ortho’s All About Pruning” and the tips are:
- Prune with a purpose – the manual admonishes the pruner to know what they want to accomplish. To know what our goals are. What are our lifetime goals for ourselves and how does our business coincide with that? How about our ten year goals and goals for this year and next year? When we prune our business activities or cut away what’s not growing, we must know what we envision for our businesses in order to prune wisely.
- Prune in a timely manner – We have to make sure we prune at the correct time, and that time differs for various plants. Many times, the start of a new year may be the right timing. Or for your business maybe it’s at the conclusion of a major project, or at the start of a new season. For business in general, good timing could be whenever we have a season to cease activity, reflect, and plan on what we want to accomplish next. When this section talks about timely pruning it also states that pruning ‘encourages greater quantity and quality” and that it “stimulates new growth and directs growth where you want it to go”.
- Know when you can expect growth – this tip takes some thought and inventory of our past results. It was amazing to me to learn that roses, for example, “are borne only on new wood, the current season’s growth.” And that ‘fruit forms on the previous year’s growth”! Fascinating! Some aspects of our business or maybe our entire business may get results on work we’ve done already or the work we are doing now. This is important so that we know the cycles of our growth and results so we remain encouraged and prepared about and for the timing of the results we seek. We may need to look back at work we have done previously - you know that thorough detailed research and testing type work, that didn’t ‘seem’ to produce. The time for results may be now. Or the results we are seeking may require us to act NOW on a tip and develop it and research it and implement it at all at one time. This is usually true for service oriented aspects of our business while the other is truer for products.
- Prune regularly – but not too much. It states that “when a plant is thinned of excess growth, its interior is opened up to light and air, which helps it to grow better…” This speaks to resisting the urge to do too much, to direct our energies with purpose, to get some air, get some light, to get some rest, so we can grow better.
- Get some Sunshine - I love this one again because it states that “all pruning is geared to maximize the amount of light (energy) that the plant receives” This is not a ‘nice to do” this is the whole point of pruning. To receive energy and light and direct it to the branches that are producing. We get that by eating healthy nutritious foods, getting proper rest, meditating, and having a balance of work and relaxation. Activities like these are vital to our growth because our business only grows when we have increased energy and capacity to do good work!
- Manage your hats – A lot of us wear many ‘hats’ and have different aspects of business or even different businesses, which is good, as many farmers plant a variety of crops, however, those crops must complement each other. This pruning fact states that “a trees branches shouldn’t shade each other.” So we have to make sure our business activities complement each other and flow in a way that creates a balanced system and that one doesn’t take away from the other. What would be the sense in that?
- It takes time – this little fact really helped me in the early days of entrepreneurship. I’ve heard it a million times that ‘it takes 2-3 years to see a profit”. Did you know that it takes 3 years to pick the first apple from an apple tree? Well this validated the struggles, to realize it just takes time. To produce something beautiful, healthy, worthwhile just takes time. There’s work taking place we just do not see. Even though we see the vision, plant the seed, tend the young tree, protect it from harsh elements, and nurture it, there are things happening underground as the roots are being developed and the energy is being gathered that is required for the longevity and the function of the tree. Being patient and appreciating the process makes the waiting soothing. And when we finally do see the results we seek, the wait seems worth it!
So take the time to plan, get to pruning, grow your business, and enjoy its fruits!