We live in a complicated world. Yet some things are still quite simple: We only have to look to our nation’s agricultural past for the fundamentals to achieve increased profits and the business results we desire.
As farmers, we knew a few things for sure:
- The only way to reap a harvest is to plant seeds.
- Planted seeds require follow up action such as watering, fertilizing and tilling to reap a big, healthy harvest.
- Unforeseen circumstances such as weather, parasites and pestilence can destroy or greatly diminish a season’s harvest, but the farmer — not her pests or challenges — will wipe out the next season’s harvest if she does not get beyond the losses of last season and begin planting anew.
- The more seed you plant, the larger your potential harvest will be. A seed begets an offspring of the same kind. Peanuts bring more peanuts and roses more roses.
Even plants within the same family, such as oranges and grapefruit, cannot produce one another.
So how do these principles apply to business?
As entrepreneurs and business owners if we expect to reap new successes and bigger profits we must plant seeds every day. What are the seeds of your business success? Your seeds are whatever actions you can take that will grow your company. These might be:
- Taking a few seminars to sharpen your skills;
- Making sales phone calls or presentations;
- Finding new ways to increase your network of contacts;
- Creating a new personal image that will grab people’s attention;
- Sending emails to initiate contact with potential partners; or
- Streamlining your business to focus on the set of customers that you can best serve.
The activities you can engage in to grow your business are the seeds you must plant not once, but every day.
Tend to the Seeds
It is not enough to put seeds in the ground, or take the initial action that will grow your business. Now you have to tend to those seeds. If a potential client has expressed desire in your product or service but not paid or made a final commitment to buy then follow up to get a definitive answer. If you’ve been networking and meeting new people, that’s awesome but make another move. Send a follow-up email or invite the most promising contacts to lunch. You must connect with a person at least six times before you begin to establish the foundation of a meaningful relationship. The seeds you have planted now require water, fertilizing and tilling — take follow up action in anticipation of your harvest.
Get Over Last Season’s Crop
As a nation we have been reeling from the consequences of financial mismanagement. I know it’s been rough. And I know it may seem like a long road back — it actually will be a long road back. But looking longingly to the past simply hinders progress. Parasites and pestilence (our challenges) destroyed last season’s harvest. We can now choose to be either the farmers or foes of our next season’s harvest — it all hinges on what we do now.
Plant More to Harvest More
It’s mid-year and we are headed into third quarter. How are you doing compared to your business performance indicators for this year? If you’re on track remain focused, if you’re off track it’s not too late to make a comeback. Are you taking action that is uninspired and small? If you plant just one or two seeds then look forward to a small harvest. If we want to grow more then we must plant more — today and every day. Harvests are in proportion to what is planted. I dare you to plant a whole field of promising opportunities!
The Seeds You Plant Will Bring More of the Same
Reaping a healthy harvest in this 21st century post-recession economy (that has changed forever) may require some of us to change our beliefs, priorities and the actions we are taking. Moms Mabley, a comedienne born just before the 1900s, said “If you always do what you’ve always done then you’ll always get what you always got. If you want something different then you’ve got to do something different.”
If you are planting the same kinds of seeds you have planted in the past expecting a different crop then you may be sorely disappointed. Find new ways to get and retain customers in this “new” economy. Re-visit the way you do everything. Stick with what continues to work well and search for new ways to improve. If you’re stuck in a rut nothing gets you out faster than faith and bold action. Same seeds, same harvest; so be clear about what you want. Plant the seeds of greatness!
Be sure to check back next week for more small business advice from Felicia Joy.