Although I’ve gardened for years, this is my first year working a raised bed in our Community Garden and as I prepared the soil I noticed the parallel in preparing a garden and nurturing your business. The time spent building a good foundation will make all the difference in the quality of the crops you harvest. That’s why it’s important to be really clear about your niche and the results you help others achieve and lay your foundation as consciously and carefully as you can.
Choose your location
When you garden you consider the position of the bed – the amount of sun it gets, the plants that you like to grow, the length of the growing season. You look at the purpose it will serve in your yard, the background it will enhance, the activities it will shelter, the products it will grow. You decide what is needed, how much care it will take and what you want to plant there.
The same is true for your business. In the beginning you make a lot of important decisions – who you want to serve, what they need from you, the competition that’s already out there and what you want as the final result. You choose the niche that suits you and your services best.
What is needed?
If the Farmer’s Market is full of tomato growers you probably want to raise a different crop. You do your research; you test the soil to see what is needed and what it already has. You make your decision on the best results you can achieve.
You make the same type of exploration for for your business and create the perfect mix of the type service and products to fill a specific gap in the market
Start with a good foundation
Every new project begins with fresh high quality ingredients. The location of my new raised bed is wonderful. It’s partially shaded in the afternoon by a tree and easily viewed by anyone entering the garden. I went to the local nursery, got advice from an expert and added the recommended nutrients to the soil. I laid a good foundation for what I plan to grow.
In business you have to spend some quality time making the initial decisions – who you serve, what you want to offer and what results you want to create. Then you lay the foundation of your web presence, your delivery structure, and your support staff.
What crops do you want to raise?
As with any business you get to choose your crops – your outcome – exactly what you want to offer your clients and customers. Since my bed was in the first row entering the garden I decided to put the vegetables at the back and flowers at the front. It was going to be both beautiful and practical.
Decide on the purpose of your business in the beginning. It will guide you in selecting the best products and services to offer.
Provide strong support systems from the beginning
Too often we don’t have a clear picture of the final result we want and we fail to put in the proper support systems. I love clematis so I put in two trellises, one at each end to hold them. Then I placed the tomato cages between them. The back row sets the tone of both beauty and nutrition.
What supports do you need in your business? The first two are going to be a VA and a financial person. (See “Are you still trying to do it all yourself?” ) You might also need to invest in software that helps you produce certain elements of your business. Decide what you need and in what order you will need them. Be prepared and willing to put support systems in place as they are needed.
What tools do you need?
Don’t skimp on the tools you buy. I bought an inexpensive trowel and it broke in a week. At this stage of your business you are investing in something you are going to use for a long time. Set yourself up right. Get yourself a coach who can help you choose your most lucrative and satisfying direction. Spend time choosing the most expressive design for your blog or web site. What new skills do you need to learn in order to make this work? This initial investment will help you make certain you are building on a strong foundation.
Choose the best seeds and plants
A perennial plant lasts for years. Buy the version of it you like the most, the one that will give you the greatest pleasure over the years. Choose the best tomato plants for your climate and your taste buds.
As you set up your business develop the most compelling landing page you can, craft an opt in offer that attracts like butterflies to a butterfly garden, create a mini-ecourse that gradually nurtures the occupants of your garden and create Cornerstone Content that shows them the possibilities. Those four foundational information products will serve your business for years to come. (See "How to Craft" Series)
What care do you need to provide?
The quality of your harvest will depend on the natural growth process of each plant, the growing conditions of the season, the quality of the plant itself and the care you provide. And that is exactly how it is in business. Some people are ready to interact right away, others need gradual cultivation. What you can do from the beginning is provide the right environment for each of them. Give them information products that encourage and guide and produce results. Write a blog that keeps them motivated and inspires them with new ideas. Offer a bi-monthly newsletter that offers resources and news of what you have created of value for them. Make some training videos that help them get results.
Watch for weeds
Weeds are simply good plants we decide are growing in the wrong place. If you are a coach and find someone who is not compatible, help them find another coach. If you create a teleclass that is not as successful as you would like, consider turning those ideas into a different format, or prune some of the material, or add new ingredients.
Growing a business is like growing a garden, you have to monitor its growth and meet each need as it arises.
The success formula for your business garden is quality ingredients, a strong support system, consistent care, steady nutrients and patience. That’s easy enough to provide with a little awareness, persistence and conscious care.