Building your business is like planting a garden

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Galanthus nivalis, blooms in January-February

Galanthus nivalis, blooms in January-February

On this first autumn Sunday, I spent the afternoon planting bulbs in my garden, bulbs that – fingers crossed – will bloom in turn from January through August 2011. And many years thereafter.

I have to wait at least 4 months to see the first results of my efforts.

If this autumn is too dry, I will have to remember to water them gently.

And if winter comes cold and early, I will have to remember to add a layer of mulch for protection.

You reap what you sow, and all that jazz.

Building your business is like planting a garden.

  • It takes visualizing and planning.

What do I want my garden (business) to look like next year? In five years?

  • It takes choosing the right plant for the right soil and exposure.

What is my ideal client profile? What do I need to do to learn everything about his business and his needs?

  • It takes attentiveness to shifts in the environment and ability to respond to them in a timely fashion.

What is affecting my client’s business today? How do I adapt to his shifting priorities and constraints to continue to deliver the added value he needs for his business to thrive?

  • It takes patience and restraint.

It’s not instant soup. Sometimes, things take time. You have to know when to add fertilizer and when to lighten up on watering. The balance between keeping in touch with useful information and being a pain in the neck.

  • It takes weeding and pruning to let the strong growth blossom.

What shifts do I need to make in my service offering? Which areas should benefit from continuous training and specialization? Which clients should I let go of at this stage?

  • It takes gratitude and appreciation.

Appreciation begets care – you don’t treat weeds with TLC and admiration, you dream of dousing them with RoundUp!

And so with clients and colleagues. Take care of them. Do favors. Make their life easier. Say thank you. Do a random act of kindness, you’ll get blossoms.



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  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ID Lingoservice , Annika Vale, Catherine Jan, Mark Hanegan, Patricia Lane and others. Patricia Lane said: What are you planting to make your garden and #freelance business grow? […]

  • Patricia, as a fellow gardener I loved this post, thanks for writing it! My favorite garden-to-the office mantra is “don’t fail out of over-ambition.” Just like many gardeners fail because they try to do too much at once (plant an orchard, turn the front yard into an edible landscape, whatever), many freelancers fail (for example at finding direct clients) because they aim too high. Keep it manageable!

    • Thanks, Corinne, glad you liked it!

      My mantra comes pretty close 🙂 I’d say many freelancers get into trouble not because they aim too high, but too wide. Gardens and businesses need the same things: vision, choices, focus, tending, timing, diligence, and patience.

      Do we want to plant or cultivate a garden (business)? The former is easy, it’s the latter that takes work!