What do business’s need to do when they become stodgy, bulky & unwieldy? You begin to prune it so that it becomes Leaner, Meaner and Fitter. In essence you on your gardening overhauls, take out the hoe and begin to get to work.
There comes a time in all business’s big or small that you suddenly realize you are no longer who you started out to be. You realize that you no longer recognize what you are. You realize that people around you are no longer passionate and hungry. You realize that a sense of ennui has crept in while you were yourself sleeping and that it has become all pervasive and ingrained.
Running a business is like running a well kept garden. You need to periodically prune the trees so that they grow big and tall. You need to remove the weeds so that they don’t kill the small plants. You need to water the garden regularly so that it grows. A good gardener does all that. Good business leaders, especially entrepreneurs treat their business’s like gardens. You need to prune people around you so that each of them grow big and tall in their respective chosen fields. You need to remove non performers and the gossip mongers and the hangers on so that they don’t infect the others. You need to continuously invest into the business both in thought, action, resources and money so that your business grows.
As an entrepreneur there have been several instances when i have realized that I had let my garden go wild. But like all good gardeners, realizing this, I picked up my hoe, my garden scissors and my wheel barrow and got to work in turning back the business into what I envisaged it to be when I planned the first tree.
Getting to work to set things right in the garden can be both a frustrating and enriching experience. There will be weeds that simply refuse to come off and there will be trees that do not want to be pruned. There will also be the added problem of not having enough water (read money!) to fertilize the plants that could and are still willing to grow!
But every time I have gotten to work on my garden, I have been reasonably happy with the outcome of my endevours. The garden or business always look much better than what it was and if I could look into the future I could definitely see a shimmer of what my garden could look like somewhere in the near future- a garden people around me would be proud to work and play in. The weeds all gone, the trees nicely pruned and a host of other gardeners happily tending to the work i have initiated.
For all those entrepreneurs and business leaders out there reading this blog at present take heart. No garden is so destroyed that it cannot be rebuilt. And for those who are currently in the same situation I have been in before, here are some handy gardening tips!
1. Believe in your garden
If you are in business, you got to believe in what you are doing. You cannot have a crisis of confidence either in yourself or in your business. If a crisis of confidence comes over you…take a break…read a book..go out and relax with friends and family..take your mind of work…and then come back with renewed zest.
2. Micro Manage
If you are trying to bring back your garden to its former glory, you got to lead from the trenches. You got to stoop to pluck out the weeds yourself , no matter how back breaking the work may be. As business leaders all of us love to delegate. We read so many management books that tell us that we need to delegate, that we very fast begin to believe in it completely. By all means delegate but when there are tricky thick thorns hurting your business, dont delegate. Wade in and remove the thorns yourself.
Micro manage those aspects of your business where you will be able to make significant impact be it finance or sales or collections or whatever it is that your business core rests on. You will quickly discover an exciting world and see the results of your actions every day!
3. Get Un-emotional
Most of us are emotional people, especially entrepreneurs. Let go of your emotions and focus strongly on the task at hand. You may have your soft spot in a garden – that rock that used to let you rest on, that tree under which you caught your afternoon siesta. As entrepreneurs we are one big softy. If the rock is in your way remove it . If the tree is, cut it down.
There is little place for emotions when you are turning things around. You owe it to everyone else, whether they be your employees, your vendors , your bankers or even your clients that you will make decisions in the larger interests of the organization rather than the individual.
4. Money is Honey
You need hard working bees in your garden for it to flower. Bees work hard for honey. In the business world you need money to make things happen, which is where you need to strongly focus on. When you micro manage, you discover hidden pots of honey that you never knew existed. Focus on your costs. Prune away all the unnecessary flab and weeds that you accumulated over the years. At the same time focus on your cash flows. A good cash flow helps energize business’s. Focus on faster billing, faster collections. Simply put focus on honey and do everything you can to make sure that it comes on time every time. You may even need to change the way people work. Do it. If in the process some of them leave, let them. You have a large canvas in your mind that you want to create. GO ahead and do it.
5. Talk to your fellow gardeners
So you have decided to rebuild your garden all by yourself? All the best is all I can say. A great garden is built with the help of fellow gardeners..people who believe that the garden can be rebuilt. Therefore right from the guy who supplies you manure ( read vendors), to the guy who buys your produce ( read clients) and that guy who tends the garden ( read your employees), you got to make sure that everyone knows why you are doing what you are doing.
Nothing upsets and scares people more than the unknown. Sitting down and talking to your employees on a one of one basis or in small groups help assuage their fears and more importantly gives them the confidence that as the head gardener, you are pretty much in control and more importantly know what you are doing.
I do hope that with all the similes and comparison that I have done linking a business to gardening, the core messaging has not been lost! That would indeed be disappointing. But as they say ‘ the clever ones will figure it out”.
And so from one head gardener to another . Enjoy creating the best garden in the world!