Grow Your Business

Just Like Mighty Oaks, Businesses Need to Be Nurtured to Grow

Just Like Mighty Oaks, Businesses Need to Be Nurtured to Grow

A tree from my childhood in Washington, D.C.

Image credit: Zach Cutler
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Founders are like gardeners. They plant seeds, nurture saplings and watch successful businesses grow strong. How do founders ensure their startups grow into solid oaks?

Look to the trees and take some tips from mother nature. Here are five lessons to learn from one of the world’s most wondrous and beautiful creation, trees.

1. Establish firm roots

The strength of any tree comes from its roots. In business, there’s so much that goes on behind the scenes that creates the infrastructure of a healthy company.

Related: How to Better Run Your Business? Nature Knows.

Aside from having a good product and customer service, strong companies have a sound strategy and solid operations driving growth. A sturdy foundation keeps businesses standing in storms, while weaker companies without an established roots system fall.

As a business grows, don’t neglect the roots. Older trees that seem healthy can topple unexpectedly from root rot or severed roots. Revisit and reevaluate key strategies, operational structure and the mission and vision of a firm to keep the foundation strong.

2. Plant the right seeds

Trees grow from a single seed, and businesses grow from a single idea. But not every seed takes root and grows into a solid tree.

Don’t plant palm trees in Alaska. Understand the idea, the market and the customers before attempting to grow new seeds. Is the idea right for the season, the climate, the environment? Is the soil rich in nutrients or overused from many other trees?

Research ideas before taking action, and only plant those seeds with the best chance of success.

Related: What Kind of Trees Are the Customers You're Serving?

3. Be patient

It takes many years for trees to grow, mature and bear fruit. Just like trees, it may take time for businesses to become profitable.

If a business doesn’t bear fruit right away, don’t give up. Be patient and nurture the business into a strong and lucrative company.

But if the business doesn’t yield fruit after some time, don’t hold on to an unrealistic dream. Some things will need to change for the business to be successful. Evaluate what’s going wrong and take steps to fix it. Does the business need pruning? Stronger soil? More light? Determine new strategies and ideas, and try again.

4. Expect seasons

Tress cycle through periods of growth and decay. They blossom and wither as the seasons change throughout the year. Businesses also go through a natural cycle of ups and downs. When business does decline, it’s time to reinvent the company or the product and implement innovations to adapt with a changing market.

Just as trees decay to make room for new buds in the spring, companies need to lose old and dying pieces of the business to allow for rebirth and continued growth.

5. Grow up, then out

Trees tend to grow tall and then wide with branches. Successful businesses focus on growing the core of the business first. With a strong trunk, businesses can then branch out to other markets, different verticals or new products. Businesses without a fully developed core will fail if they try to expand. An immature tree cannot support the weight of too many branches.

Focus on building up a business and establishing a solid core before expanding and taking on new ventures.

Related: Unlocking Business Ideas Hidden in the Natural World