I like to think of Dragonspit Apothecary, my own small business I started 3 years ago, like a garden most days. It brings me joy in it’s current small manageable size (small business). I watch over it carefully each day making sure it gets just the right amount of sunlight (social media) and water (investment). I enjoy seeing it bloom (sales) and change (grow) knowing it is my very own tender care that is helping support it’s growth. There are days though I wonder if my thumb isn’t green and I’m not helping my Dragonspit garden grow at all. Amy, Amy how does your garden grow indeed!
If there’s one thing I’ve learned these past couple years about having a business it’s that a solo-entrepreneur is very much like being a gardener. There is a lot of care and work that goes into having the perfect yard with ever blooming flowers and just the right mix of plants to give the yard a beautiful curbside attraction. It takes continual care to keep that yard beautiful all year too! Every good gardener knows that even in winter there is work that needs to be done in preparation of the next season. During the hottest months it needs care as well to fend off the effects from the hot summer sun. It’s easy to start a garden but the true success comes from those that know you have to always be working at it to keep it beautiful.
Many of us flock the home improvement garden centers this time of year for pretty spring flowers and supplies to work on our yards. We carry all these things home and spend the next couple weekends working non-stop on our yards. We’re tired, sore, a little sun burned but proud of what we have setup in our yard. Before long though the hotter weather will come and we will turn to summer fun expecting our plants to make it on their own in the hot summer sun. We set the sprinkler system on auto schedule and go about our days only remembering occasionally to check on our plants. Owning a small business is much the same. We get excited at the onset of the opportunity, challenge and don’t mind the work. Yet when it gets hot and is no longer comfortable we stop tenderly caring for our businesses and set the auto pilot for them to run, expecting great results without our constant attention. We even get upset when they do not produce and are wilting on the vine from lack of our attention!
We also have a tendency to take on more than we can manage before we are ready. It’s very tempting to dive head first into a major overhaul of your yard not realizing you do not have the skill, expertise, strength or endurance to complete that project on your own. When you are just starting out in business this too is much the same way. We get over-zealous with what we think we can do and soon find out we lack the time, skill and endurance to see it through. As much as we want that full fledged Better Homes & Garden look we have to start small and make what we can do the most beautiful it can be before we build on more. Where this can hit us hard in our business is with our budget and then before we know it we are over our budget and lacking time so we give up! It’s easier to walk away from the mess than it is to sort through it and try to salvage what might have been a beautiful business.
Those months when sales are flat and I’m struggling for engagement on social media I have to ask why? Am I not nurturing my business with enough nutrients of content to get people interested (consistency, relevancy, niche focus)? Am I not in the right sunny or shady spot where people can see what I have to offer (hashtags, groups, searches, etc)? Much like plants, our businesses need just the right mix of elements for best results. Though even with that, we can still see flat growth (expansion) or lack of blooms (sales, results). Sometimes it’s just a matter of time and others it’s a matter of what we are doing. Experience and experimentation are often what it takes to persist through these times, figure out what we can do to start to see fresh growth again.
Thinking of your sales or service business as a garden offers us one more important strategy to
being successful. Namely that we can broaden our perspective to the full picture. See when you are the only person in your business you can become laser focused on the one thing that is not going well, producing or even enjoyable. That can taint the view of other things in your business as well. Yet when you put your business in the lens of a gardener you realize you have a whole yard that may actually be thriving overall and that one small plant you’re worried about doesn’t matter in the big picture. We must be able to focus on the small details and the big picture with a careful balance of back and forth when defining the successes or weaknesses in our business.
It is very hard sometimes to realize what I have achieved because I’m always working on the next thing in my business. I don’t often take the time to celebrate a new developed course I’ve built or how many blog posts I’ve written. Instead like most entrepreneurs I know I have to keep going to the next thing because my audience and clients will want more. Yet when I don’t stop and look at my whole business periodically I realize I start to see my work as a job instead of a dream I’m building. I stop appreciating what the work I’m creating is doing to help my clients and I stop being creative. That only leads to the same feelings we get from our day jobs of feeling worn and burned out. We have to pause at least every once in a while to take in our whole business. We need to assess, appreciate, celebrate and recognize our wins, progress and results. Sales is only one small plant in that overall picture too.
Regardless if your business is a small boutique on Main Street or a product direct sales business you are a gardener of it’s creation and design. You get to put your thumb to creating it to reflect who you are and what you want everyone else to see about your business. You get to select the plants (products or service), layout out the landscape design (websites, stores, etc), and be the gardener of it’s results.
How is your garden growing?
If you’re ready to start your own garden but are not sure where to start, how big you want it or how much care and time you have to give one, take my New Business Leader Assessment here: https://forms.gle/v24qUoJm3aWY6o8b6