Each spring, Mother Nature issues a report card for gardeners. Like eager students, we await the season’s warmer weather to see if our previous efforts were successful. Will the tulips and daylilies bloom? Are last year’s new perennials showing signs of growth? What’s ahead for this growing season? As you contemplate the glories of your garden and landscape, consider applying nature’s lessons to your business. Successful gardeners, business owners and managers share similar goals. These six processes could help your business thrive:
1. Know Your Soil
Before diligent gardeners start digging, they take the time to analyze a plot’s soil pH and measure the amount of sun received at that location. Did that sunny site turn partly sunny with the growth of nearby trees? That data will impact their selection of plants. In the same way, successful businesses conduct a situational analysis to understand current market factors and impacts. What’s changed over the last year? New regulations, competitors and market demands may impact your service/product offerings.
2. Pick the Proper Plants
Nurseries offer an abundance of choices, but thoughtful gardeners ̶ ̶ despite the temptation ̶ ̶ will only buy the plants appropriate for their garden that fit into their budget. Otherwise, they’ll overextend their capacity to properly care for the new plants and risk neglect of their existing plants. The same dilemma exists for businesses that often are tempted to follow the latest trend or “shiny new object” to keep up with competitors. Does this newest trend fit into your business plan, and do you have the capacity to successfully pursue this additional service or product line, while continuing to offer excellent service for your existing clients?
3. Plant with Care
Before planting, successful gardeners prepare their soil by loosening it, removing debris and adding organic matter and possibly fertilizer to give plants the best chance of success. For each specific plant, they follow instructions for planting and spacing and use mulch to keep weeds away and retain moisture. When businesses conduct project kick-off meetings with clients, they also should come to the session ready to review expectations and learn of special needs, such as communication and invoicing preferences. Each client, even in the same organization, wants to interact with professionals in their own way.
4. Maintain Your Garden
The toughest part of gardening may be the continual upkeep, especially in the middle of the season. The excitement of planting has worn off, and harvest is still weeks away. Weeding is a constant chore. Experienced gardeners know that frequent walks through the garden can help them identify pest problems or other issues. With continuous attention to their plots, gardeners may decide that it’s time to pull diseased plants or put up a new fence to keep out rabbits or other animals. Likewise, project managers need to communicate frequently with clients throughout the life of a project. In addition, client feedback surveys at key milestones or check-in calls from business developers or company leaders can help confirm that the project is proceeding on track before completion. It’s best to address project challenges while they can still be resolved.
5. Celebrate the Harvest
After all the planning, preparation and care, gardeners celebrate the fruits of their labors, whether it’s glorious roses, lovely impatiens or tasty tomatoes and corn. They gaze over their creations and bask in their achievements. Project managers and clients also need to acknowledge the successful completion of an endeavor, whether it’s with a ribbon cutting, cookout or one-on-one meeting. Business is about relationships, and there’s nothing better than a success to cement those relationships.
6. Get Ready for the Next Season
After the season ends, gardeners engage in final tasks to get ready for winter. They compost dead plant material, mulch and rake up weeds. They may also note future ideas and challenges, while they’re still fresh in their mind. Project managers also go through close-out procedures as they complete jobs. There are final invoices to submit and files to archive. What’s missing? Have they reviewed the latest project with their clients and asked about future opportunities for work, even outside their area of expertise? What would the client like to achieve, if funds were available? Business relationships, like gardens, are ever changing and growing. With care, these relationships can flourish and be mutually beneficial. Written by guest blogger Leslie Blaize, CPSM, president of Blaize Communications LLC, Madison, Wisc., a writing and editing business specializing in the A/E/C industry.