I think it will be a safe assumption that we all are familiar with the nursery rhyme about old McDonald? Business in general is a little bit like having a farm. I think we can all learn a thing or two from farmers.
At the start you need to do all the checks to make sure the idea is sound. Once you get the all clear, you open a bank account in anticipation of having money coming in. You invest a tremendous amount of time in making the ground for a sustainable idea. You work on a website, sometimes start a podcast and blog (you make sure there is some content to get you started), in some cases you lease a property which then you convert to a shop. Likely hundreds of hours go into preparation phase and all of it in a good faith that business will take off. Similarly a farmer would invest the same amount of time in preparing the ground, clearing the weeds, fertilising the soil – all in good faith that the crops he is going to harvest will be worth it.
Your business has a home (either physical or online), you are ready to click “launch” button and start inviting your customers. This is where many people will fail. Why? Because they mistake the sowing stage for the harvest. You may be lured into thinking that you have done all the hard work in the groundwork stage and now you deserve to relax and simply grab all of the low hanging fruits there and then. WRONG! Farmer will carefully place seeds, choose the right location for each crop and will make sure that the little fragile seedlings are off to the best possible start. He will invest in a good quality soil, make sure the pH of it is suitable for the seeds he has put in and then… he will be patient.
Sowing stage is difficult because we are still a long way from seeing any fruits of our work. But with the right attitude and patience little shoots will appear and give us hope to progress steadily to the next stage.
Care and maintenance
This is where the seeds of our labour are starting to show results. We see little shoots appearing on the horizon. Ideas we had took off, we have more interest in our product. Again very easy to fall into the false thinking that this is IT. That you have made it and everything can now relax. You deserve to put your feet up. Good farmer will not make this mistake. He knows that this is a crucial stage to his harvest. He will be anticipating droughts, flooding, infestations and anything else that may threaten his harvest. Do you do that with your business? Are you always vigilant to the forever changing economic environment? How recently have you checked your competitors and what they offer? Have you surveyed your customers to check if they are satisfied? How is the situation with your workers? Is they morale OK?
The point is – business similarly to farming is a constant work. You need to remain vigilant at every corner and be aware of the potential dangers awaiting just round the corner.
This is the stage in this cycle you have been waiting for. It is likely the hardest stage to actually accurately spot. My guess would be that you have had at least one solid year of continuous growth and your business is at the stage of being in a desperate need of expansion. That's when you know you have made it. This is the harvest you have been waiting for. Your business idea took off, you have likely pocketed a good amount of income and now it is time to start all over again 🙂 Similarly to the farmer's reality the growth cycle never stops and you seamlessly move from one stage to the next.
Before you move to the next round of preparation and sowing pause. Reflect on everything that has happened, what went wrong, what was a big success and what was simply not worth your time all together? Those lessons can improve your next harvest significantly.
Does farmer give up because of a drought? Does he leave everything and move on to something completely different because one of his harvests was ruined by acts of nature (or sometimes his own neglect)? Likely not. A good farmer will learn from mistakes he made and will go onto the next cycle. Are you a good farmer? Have you stopped because something went wrong and ruined your idealised model of how the life of entrepreneur looks like?
How many sleepless nights did you have? How many times did you lock the office door and missed on the important development leaps of your kids?
Well I have a surprise for you. To be a great businessman you need to be a good farmer and you look more like old McDonald than Queen Bee who lives on the Upper East Side.
Most importantly – it is OK. Don't fight it. You are not alone.