So, as I stated in part 1 of pruning aggressively for business success, it is critical for the health of your business to be able to prune aggressively. Not only does it allow you to more effectively handle your current business but it allows you to create the business you want in the future.
But, pruning – especially when you see the fruit on the tree (or the business in the pipeline) is tough. The two problems that I ran into both in pruning my fruit trees and in pruning in my business was to 1) figure out what to prune and 2) actually get over my desire to “protect the tree” and actually cut the branch. The first challenge can be addressed with a combination of intuition and analysis to inform good decision-making. The second challenge requires a shift in mindset.
Let’s look at some of the steps that can be taken to figure out what to prune.
- What do you currently spend your time on and of those activities which activities do you perform that give you energy and that you enjoy?
- What do you do that drags you down?
- What can you outsource?
- What can you delete?
- What products or services are you currently offering and how much PROFIT do you make on each?
- Cut down on the products / services that do not bring you profit – unless they provide some other great value to your organization
- Make room for growth of the higher profit products and services
- What customers or clients are the best fit and give you energy?
- Do you have any clients are customers that are no longer a good fit?
- Is there breadth and diversity in your customer/ client base?
This is just the beginning but it’s a good place to start.
Prune aggressively – to get a fruit tree to grow differently and in the long run produce more fruit you need to prune it aggressively. You have to cut off high producing limbs in order to allow for a higher quality fruit in the next year. I have a friend who is an arborist and watching her prune my peach and nectarine trees is almost painful but, year after year she tells me it hurts now but it will pay off in the long run and she is so right.
This year I faced the same pruning in my own business and many of my clients continue to face the same need to get clear about their goals, what needs to change to meet those goals and then prune what is not going to reach those goals. Almost a year ago, I realized that while I have had a successful consulting business, blessed by many wonderful clients, I was at a crossroads.
I personally desired more creativity, even greater collaboration with clients, and a deeper exploration of true service. I wanted to work with people who truly cared about their businesses, their communities, and making a difference, but were stuck in the grips of over-abundance. And true to the nature of the Universe, in answer to this desire I was given the opportunity to face my own businesses mortality. I reached the point of over commitment and had to reevaluate my client portfolio and commitments.
It was a painful hit to my ego but, so necessary and upon reflection so beautiful. I can say that even with the passing of time, I can still feel the sensation of wet tears of humility on my cheeks. I can still feel the imprint of the grip of fear around my larynx and my heart. And at the same time, I see it’s blessing.
That experience reminded me of the need to prune aggressively in our businesses in order to allow for the full richness of our services to ripen fully with our clients. Without the pruning, we produce a lower quality and stressed out service or product. Moreover, our market becomes too broad and diversified and our message becomes muddy. Come back for Part 2 on pruning for business success.
Just call me Diana Prince (aka Wonder Woman).
I have a hero complex – I recently recognized that this archetype is alive and well in me. I go to heroic heights and will create them if they don’t exist because I feel like nothing if I can’t be in save mode. That is a problem to a happy, joyful, peaceful, and abundant existence.
Am I alone here? My favorite show growing up was without a doubt Wonder Woman – I adored Linda Carter and wanted to be just like her. It was followed up closely by Emergency… I loved to imagine that I was one of the paramedics coming onto the scene and saving the day.
Well, not a lot has changed. I still love the thought of being Wonder Woman. I go to super hero levels to serve my clients, support my colleagues, build my business, and care from my kids. And, true to the archetype, I say yes to things that may or may not serve me or my strategic plan if I’m not careful. But ultimately my desire is to build a strong and sustainable business, provide massive value to my clients, and live a happy, joyful, peaceful and abundant existence. In order to do this, I must temper my super hero tendencies. Here are a few things that have helped and my help you:
- Create a clear and reasonable monthly plan with prioritized goals.
- Meditate each morning. I wake up an hour before my getting lunches for the kids and the morning scramble to read an inspiring poem, book, or article and then meditate. My meditations started at 5 minutes long and have reach a maximum of 20 minutes but anything helps me get grounded for the day.
- Write my script of the day. After I meditate I write out how I want the day to flow. This is not a to-do list but rather a description of the most important functions of the day and how I want to feel as I perform those functions.
- Start each day with gratitude and just three things I want to happen that will make the day magnificent.
- End each day with a reflection of what happened that made the day wonderful and what I would do different.
These five steps have created a sense of ease and accomplishment that surprisingly feels very heroic without the drama of the bad guys!
Some friends of mine were sharing the story of their hike to Base Camp of Mount Everest. It was a wild story and fascinated me on two levels.
The first from the personal level of adventure and hard work; it sounded like a grueling but exciting adventure.
The second was how their description of their adventure related to my own experience of business ownership. They shared that they first flew into Kathmandu and then on to Lukla resting and acclimating for a few days each place. Then their actual trek began. While they were climbing quite a distance, each day was one of simply taking one step and then another with very little sense of great forward movement or of a climb. During the entire journey, they could not see Mount Everest and in fact, on the day that they arrived in Base Camp they realized that in order to actually see Mount Everest (even after reaching their goal) was to hike for yet another day to a peak above Base Camp. From that secondary location they were able to see the peak of the epic mountain.
This story mirrors many of the journeys we take as entrepreneurs, especially as we grow our businesses. There we are ascending multiple peaks and descending into valleys and gulches throughout each year. There are a few key actions that we can take to ensure that we continue to move forward:
- Set a clear and compelling strategic vision for ourselves and our teams.
- Remind the team and ourselves of that clear and compelling vision over and over!
- Prepare – get the right people with the right skills and knowledge and mostly the right fit to your organizational culture.
- Don’t stop – you may need to pause in order to acclimate to new heights, to rest, and to recuperate but do not stop and don’t give up.
- Take a moment to celebrate and observe what you have accomplished.