A Fast-Growing Business Allegory
I promised a few folks I’d post some pictures of the veggie garden I can’t seem to stop tweeting about, but it took me a minute to figure out exactly how to incorporate them into this space. I think I found a way, so let me know what you think of this very loose allegory between business and gardening.
They say starting is the hard part. On the contrary, starting is as easy as can possibly be. Although I’ve always maintained a garden of some size everywhere I’ve settled, I’m far from a master gardener. But still, starting was easy: I just looked up some seed companies, bought way too many seeds, plenty of expensive supplies, far too few books, and got “started” in February.
It was a solitary endeavor, and not because no one helped or wanted to help. I was selective about how I involved them. I wanted people to help haul dirt, and letting the kids plant seeds was cute, but I was secretive about the planning and fine details.
But that’s not to say I didn’t seek advice; the Internet is still echoing with my clueless, circular trail in pursuit of information about soil volume and determinate versus indeterminate tomatoes. But I told the people closest to me just enough to keep them excited yet mystified about what I was up to.
It took weeks to mix my special dirt recipe, and although I was proud, I understood why others were skeptical. I’d never done anything on this scale before, and was riddled with self-doubt. Everyone asked, “So when will they sprout/bloom/be ready to pick?” I’d reply, “God knows.” For once, I wasn’t being sarcastic. I was following the best advice I could find, but I was overwhelmed and anxious and aware I didn’t have nearly as much control over the results as I would have liked.
The first month after planting was torture. Every plant sprouted only after I’d given up hope they’d show, and every one of them was worth the wait.
Part of my lack of confidence stemmed from my fair amount of bootstrapping; see that black border around the bottom of the picture? Gigantic grow bags–the biggest I could find for my purposes–were entrusted with my babies in a thin strip of yard that just barely gets enough sun to be considered within the full-sun range veggies need to grow. In March. Remember that spate of warm days? Yeah. They shivered through the cold days I hadn’t been expecting afterward.
I was sure I’d made a colossally expensive mistake. Six-foot corn in 10 inches of soil? Deep down, I thought I was crazy. Although I’d read and seen demonstrations of how to make it work, I was sure I’d missed the bit of information I needed to know I was wasting my time. But as the days grew longer…
As they started to grow, I knew I’d have to prune for the most benefits, but it hurt–badly–every time I took my garden snips to one of my babies. Every doubt rose up to tell me I was destroying a good thing. I did it anyway, and as each plant responded with ecstatic new growth, I gained confidence.
I’m grateful my mother advised me to take pictures when I began, because I still have to see them to believe that my jungle actually started like this:
Is this familiar to you in the growth and maintenance of your business? How was it different? Want any veggie seeds???
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Love this post, Shakirah. Gardening is hard work. No doubt about it. Your research and hard work are definitely paying off and that's a big part of success in business, too. Trial and error, seeing what works, what doesn't, adjusting, moving forward, researching, asking for help, and then being proud of the fruits of your labor! Love. It!
EricaAllison Hi! As that storm blew through here I was glad I'd taken pictures beforehand--I was afraid that was the end of it! I was grateful all I had to do was prop my cornstalks back up.
It's hard in gardening and in business, yes--but really, once you know what you want, where there's a will there's a way.
Such a pleasure to have you by today!
I am SO jealous of your beautiful garden, Shakirah! But jealous in a good way, as in: "You set goals, you planned, you worked hard, you kept at it, you learned, you applied, you experimented, and you deserve all the success that's come your way!" If that's not business, I don't know what is!
New England Multimedia I'm just so in awe of her research to make this happen! What a fabulous project and I can't wait to see what she does with this experience; I know we're gonna see the fruits of her labor beyond watching her eat it all!
Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing New England Multimedia Yeesh, just rachet up the pressure. Hey, I offered veggie seeds! Lol, thanks, I've learned a lot, but I'm still learning, and the season isn't over yet.
New England Multimedia Thank you, Michelle! You know, I tend to look at gardening as a luxury, even though it makes my joints ache. It's strange to think of people who sow seeds because they have to in order to eat. They'd probably roll their eyes at my definition of hard work. But I've gained a healthy respect for all that goes into it, as you said--it is very much like business.
jasonkonopinski Sublime is such a wonderful word--especially when you leave off the rest ("excuse to play in the dirt.")... It's been a wonderful experience, but I look around and see only a few neighbors in a three-block stretch that's tried it. Anyone with a potato sack can enjoy, really; it's all about how creatively that potato sack can be used.
Oh, man. That is quite the share; a gardener's dream. Can you change your headline for SEO to "How To Plant a Garden?" Your traffic would be ever so more...here I thought I was going to read some cool wordsmithing and voila, my excitement grew with each photo and your storytelling. Congrats! When's dinner?
Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing Last night was the first official partially-garden-derived dinner: sauteed yellow pattypans. Stole the show from the franks-in-spaghetti-sauce on elbow pasta on the same plate. Heh.
Lots of fun, this post--but the gardening is even moreso, I must say! I'll have to see about the SEO thing, though. Wonder what real gardeners would think.