Business growth: not lilies of the field

About nine years ago, a friend gave me a Christmas lily. Glorious white flower, one tall stalk, small pot. As a model for business growth, the lily was pathetic.

After it bloomed I popped the bulb into the garden, as you do. Since then, I've seen nothing but the occasional leafy stem until this year, when I counted no less than nine stems in full bloom. They'd infiltrated the entire garden: one for every fallow year.

When the Wellington winds began trashing the flowers, I rescued them and brought them inside. Beautiful. So shiny, thick, scented. So assertive. So very green and white.

That's a pretty erratic harvest, however.

At the same time I was reading that you should start a business with the definite intention of selling it after 5 years: that implies a much faster return on investment than for the lilies of the field.

The 5-year sale plan makes a lot of sense, whether or not you eventually sell. It means taking the business seriously, pouring energy and time into it, not just playing. It means creating a business that doesn't depend on your presence.

And it means back-pedalling on development at a certain point in favour of sales.

This is perhaps the hardest thing for small businesses, most of which begin because someone is passionate about developing a product or service. Typically the new business owner doesn't have a clue about marketing, and I'm typical— I'd much rather be creating new online courses than marketing. Well, too bad!

And so I ruminated on gales and sales. Then dutifully returned to marketing.

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