Treating Your Family Business Like a Garden

I often use the analogy of tending a garden as it relates to business. Consider your assets, both tangible and intangible, as the abounding flora you choose to plant in the garden of your life. What you wish to harvest from it determines what you need to plant. You plant different seeds to reach different goals, and each type of plant needs different kinds of nurturing and comes to fruition at different times. When allowed to wither and die, untended assets can end a multigenerational family business. But when nurtured, they can be the very reason for a generation’s survival into the next cycle of family business.

Each of us is given a plot of land—life—to garden, grow on, and cultivate as we will. Look at your plot of land as a starting point that could be made into anything. You will learn as you go, and as you plant more seeds, you may find that you are better at growing some things than others, that other plants grow better here or there – through this experience you’ll evolve and grow as well.

Some seeds may be harvested in the short term, while others may take years to mature, such as wisdom and patience. Each part of the garden – in your personal life and in business – will need to be nurtured in different ways; how you accomplish that will be unique and different than someone else’s.

No matter what type of garden you grow or what challenges you confront, you have to put in effort and time. You have to work in the blazing hot sun and the rain, go through the seasons and learn from each of them, and you will have to understand what each and every one of your plants requires and keep up with them.

Flowers may bloom for a season and be gone forever, others may last years, but one day they’ll, too, return to the earth, so you must plan for it and plant always. In that sense, you are constantly reinventing and updating yourself. It’s an effort, but it teaches us patience and appreciation and to wait for things that need a little more time.

You don’t get a twenty-foot-tall tree in a day, but if you’re willing to put the work in and get started today, you’ll be that much closer to having one down the road—if not for you, then for the next down the line.