By Steve Michaels
As the snow lay covering the garden, I remembered the different cycles we had to go through to produce a harvest of fresh radishes, lettuce, tomatoes, and squash along with all of the other vegetables we planted. All year long we would put leftovers and table scraps into the compost pile and, then before planting, we would mix it with seasoned manure, from the animals we have on the ranch, to spread over the garden. We would then rototill it into the soil to add nutrients for our new crop. As spring approached, we would set up our portable green house for the plants that were more fragile so that they would make it though some of the cold, frigid nights here in Montana.
When the ground was tilled and ready, we would plant the seeds, careful to make sure they had plenty of water and nurturing them as they sprouted new growth. Through the summer, we would weed and cull those plants that were detrimental to the growth of our vegetables making sure they had all of the right conditions to make it to maturity. It was a long, slow process that involved different nurturing for the varied plants we grew in the garden.
As fall set in, we would continue checking the plants to make sure they were ripening, giving them the maximum amount of time to mature and produce to their fullest. There were times when a frost was predicted and we would have to cover the plants for protection or risk losing them. When the time was right, we would pick the produce and store it in our cellar for winter and the cycle would begin all over again.
In business when you have a new idea, product, or service to introduce into the marketplace, it is much like growing a garden. You first begin with the seed or the idea. But before you can plant it, you have to find fertile ground in which to nourish the idea. Here is where you begin to till the soil with a market survey to see if your idea will grow and if there is a need from the buying public for what you have to offer. Without a buying market segment, you may as well cast your seeds to the wind. After examining the conditions, you start to add nutrients to the soil by unearthing new ideas and concepts from your compost pile which have been amassed throughout the year. Then mix these in with the already tilled ground (your initial idea.) These nutrients are new snippets of information you have amassed through your study, brainstorming, and trial and error. These are necessary steps that will add value and sustenance to your new project. Once you have done your marketing study and examined the conditions of your soil then it is time to implement or plant the seeds.
Your seeds need light from the sun in order to grow. To grow your project, you need to inform the public through word-of-mouth, press releases, and advertising, thus creating a need to help pull the new idea through the ground.
Once your project has been implemented and is sprouting new growth, it needs to be tended. It is time to fine-tune your marketing strategy on your project, to adjust the prices, train your sales people, and if need be, water it with new capital to encourage steady growth. There may be segments of your new product or service that need to be weeded or culled because they don’t support the growth of the whole. Additionally, a particular idea may be directed at a niche market and may need to be in a green house for extra protection. This product or service may require new sales people, more education, special training, or more time to bring it to maturity.
Once you have sown your idea, brought it to fruition, and are ready to harvest the profits, take special care to retain the original idea and build upon it such as new software or extra features. Access your market response, get rid of what doesn’t work (weak plants), and build upon and expand the strength of an already good product or idea.
Yes, your company’s growth is a lot like a garden. It demands your awareness of its cycles, needs, and special care. Knowing when to plant and when to harvest is all part of the cycle of a garden, of your business, and of life.
Steve Michaels and TAS Marketing have been serving the TAS industry in the mergers and acquisitions arena for over 23 years with over 220 businesses sold. His years of experience have widened his scope and experience in buying and selling businesses nationwide. He may be contacted at 800-369-6126, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.tasmarketing.com.
[From Connection Magazine – Jan/Feb 2002]