We were curious about the timing to make the most of our backyard vegetable garden, and it got us thinking about the similarity between a successful backyard garden and a successful small business. Success in the garden has as much to do with “when” you plant as it does with “what” you plant. Timing is everything. Good timing requires a plan and every plan has steps.
STEP 1. Build a firm foundation.
Raised beds work better because they sit atop the ground, are filled with the correct soil, drain better, and maintain a warmer soil. Because of the smart foundation, plants growing in raised beds have a better chance at success from seed to the table. Is your small business built on as firm a foundation? Is each component of success — product, market, money, and people — contributing to a firm foundation?
STEP 2. Timing is everything.
To make the most of the growing season, we learn which plants can tolerate early spring’s cooler soils (broccoli and cabbage) and which prefer warmer temps (beans and cucumbers). A new employee that appears at first to be a slow learner, may turn into a superstar given nourishment at the right time.
STEP 3. Wait for it.
Growing a garden doesn’t happen overnight, and there’s also no such thing as an “overnight success” in business. Living things have a mind of their own. Employees and customers both refuse to be forced, but are open to persuasion. Stay flexible and willing to make changes. Like in the garden, plants can be dug up and moved around until sunlight or bedding soil inspires them to blossom.
STEP 4. Pull the weeds.
Gardens get weeds because of a) too many spaces unfilled, b) too much mulch, c) too much space between plants, or d) too much water or fertilizer. Those pesky weeds steal nutrients from the soil and block out life-giving sunshine, not unlike an unreliable employee or an irrationally dissatisfied or overly needy customer. Weeds keep the rest of the garden from thriving and spread their complaining or poor attitudes to others.
Gardening requires that we get our hands dirty. It creates an awareness of the present moment and what is happening around us. It’s been said that when we learn to deal with plants, we put ourselves in a better position to deal with people, no matter what we’re growing.