Developing a sustainable business
There are many similarities in the challenges faced by cultivating a home garden and developing a sustainable business. For example, the issue of weeds.
Looking out on my late winter garden on yet another champagne morning, the likes of which makes those of us who live in this marvellous Gauteng climate the envy of the city-dwelling world, I was taken in by the unfolding drama of early spring. The rose-bushes are red-leafed after their July “hair-cut”, the amazing strelitzia are emerging, the early clivia are already in bloom and the lawn is recovering from the rigours of the winter frost. Winters are stressful for the plants and grass. Seasonal fluctuations and economic downturns are equally testing for developing businesses. There are parallels between what becomes visible during and just after stressful times. As you read this, perhaps even your own situation is revealing a range of helpful, common sense things to do that need to be done right now.
Seasonal fluctuations and economic downturns are equally testing for developing a sustainable business. There are parallels between what becomes visible during and just after stressful times. As you read this, perhaps even your own situation is revealing a range of helpful, common sense things to do that need to be done right now.
Inevitably, it is with cash flow that we must start. In the full flush of spring and the good times of summer, it’s easy to lose sight of the weeds or stress points that are actually there in a developing business. There many types of stress tests that can be applied. Avoid doing these alone – invest in having someone do it with you. Business advisors are experienced practitioners in this area.
The common sense thing is to take action when the winds and cold of winter are still fresh in your memory. Get rid of the weeds now for a better summer.
Above and beyond the structured stress testing, there are a number of other things to keep in mind:
• Prepare for imminent growth, recognising where it is most likely achievable. Fertilise properly and timeously. Here, what comes to mind is actually being with key customers at a lunch or on the golf course or even at an exhibition.
• Weeds are wasteful, disruptive and seem to spring up all over the business. The most common types are the ones we have become used to. In a business, there are many processes, such as purchasing and debtors/creditors management, that benefit from a complete “reset”. This interrupts the momentum and carry-over of last year’s routines and thinking. Help your administration staff and refresh their attention on the spring that is at hand.
• It is a new summer and treating the weeds that are there after winter is the common sense thing to do. It is important to stop subscriptions, last year’s order quantities and the buying of anything no longer needed. Stock control is often overlooked as the good times appear on the horizon.
• Adapt to the on-set of early rains – don’t maintain the watering when it is not required. Here it is especially significant to get the spring-time conversations throughout the organisation to be about the flow (or lack) of early orders from main customers. Help everyone from the cleaners upwards shake off the rigours of winter and have a new spring in their step.
A good gardener does what’s necessary when it needs to be done. A pleasurable garden is just the outcome of considerable common-sense, isn’t it?