If you hate analogies, please stop reading.
See? I’m considerate sometimes.
A good business is like a tree. A good everything is like a tree. A good tree is like a tree.
But I digress.
A good business has aspects that are both above the ground as well as below the ground. The aspect of the tree that is below the ground achieves the following:
-Foundation, provides support and protection against forces from above
-Nutrients, water and minerals that the tree requires to survive
-Seed, the essence and germination of the tree
The aspect of the tree that is above the ground achieves the following:
-Staple food, the air which carries the carbons that are the building block of the tree
-Communication, a source of input and output from other trees and other life
-Reproduction, the ability for growth beyond its self, the growth of a progeny
A good business can benefit from having all or at least most of the aspects of a tree. But what I wanted to talk about specifically here is the process of growth in the tree and the business.
It’s very easy to lose sight of the bigger picture when you’re a small drone inside your own business. Even as the business owner (actually.. especially as the owner) the day to day tasks will overwhelm you and it’ll be difficult to keep in mind just how your business is growing. What eventually happens is that your business becomes this cancerous entity that has far too much growth in certain areas and not enough in others.
Balance is the key, and a tree is a good example of this balance. If the tree has too much above the ground, there isn’t enough below ground to support it and it will eventually suffer. It might even die if it doesn’t stop producing leaves and bark, and begins to focus on reaching out its roots into the ground. Same issue for the flip side, if it’s too bottom heavy, there isn’t enough of a influx of the trees staple diet.
Similarly, if a business focuses too much on it’s outer aspect. If the business focuses too much on customers, features, design, advertisement, etc, then the business will eventually teeter-totter on an unsteady foundation and eventually collapse. If the business spends too much time on it’s backend process, employees, partners, product quality, etc, it will not grow fast enough to keep up with competition and there won’t be enough revenue resource to feed the business anymore.
Another key feature to a tree is it’s ability to trim it’s resources. When a tree doesn’t require the roots, it sheds them. When a tree doesn’t require the leaves, it sheds them. Grass sheds it’s roots when it’s mowed down. Oaks shed it’s leaves when photosynthesis is too difficult during the colder seasons.
Businesses, to be successful, requires the ability to shed both it’s visible and invisible parts. Businesses need to be able to drop an unsuccessful logo, design, or product. businesses need to be able to shed old infrastructures and employees that don’t fit anymore. All this needs to occur with the grace of a tree. It may sound cold-hearted to fire an employee that has a family and has been working for you for years. But keeping those employees leads ultimately to the decline of the business as a whole. Rot will begin to grow internally and soon it will spread to the surface. This rot doesn’t just affect the business and the business owner, but it affects both the employees as well as the customers and even the entire industry.