Entrepreneur: Are You a Planter or a Gardener?

Posted by Tom LarsenNov 13, 2013 Operations, Organization 1 Comment
Are you a Planter or a Gardener?

After moving her family into their newly built home, Jane turns her attention to landscaping her yard. Her list is long: she needs trees, shrubs, a nice green lawn, the sprinkler system to keep it that way, uplighting, some decorative elements and a blueprint to tie it all together.  She finds a landscaping architect to do the “planting”; to grade the yard, put down topsoil, install lighting and irrigation and to plant the green stuff all in a way to make it look magical. Once installed, the work of the Planter company is done. To do the yard maintenance, the homeowner will need a different service- a Gardener. This company comes on a regular basis and does the difficult and tedious work of mowing, edging, pruning, sweeping and disposing of the green waste.

So it is often the same with entrepreneurs. Many in the entrepreneurial community start with an idea infused with creativity and then structure it around a business plan. Once that business is up, running and growing, about three years in, the entrepreneur’s activities change dramatically. Instead of schmoozing investors, developing full product and service lines, designing the brand, web site and sales collateral, he fills his days with maintaining the web site, blog and social media, picking, packing and shipping orders, entering bookkeeping data, chasing customers for payment and even cleaning the company bathroom. It’s less exciting work to be sure, but it keeps the business moving forward. Some first time entrepreneurs are thrilled not only to be creating a business from scratch but also proud that they can “do it all”.

After a year or two of managing most or all of the company’s functions, he realizes that he is spending only about 15% of his time on the creative aspect of the business with the rest on maintenance. Our Planter comes to realize the business is less about planting and more about gardening. For some, that’s a perfectly fine way to make a living. For others, they need help reorganizing their business to get back to “planting”, that is, doing what they love (and what they’re best at) because it’s the reason they started their business in the first place.

Are you a Planter saddled with a role as Gardener? You can hire someone to run your business operations so you can get back to exploring, creating and designing to grow your business but with small organizations, adding an untrained and untested employee can be a risky proposition. An alternative is to outsource your operations with a trusted vendor partner. Outsourcing your warehousing, bookkeeping and inbound marketing functions to experts who specialize in those tasks reduces the need to search for, hire and train one or more new employees. Outsourced operations just might be the shortest, and most cost-effective path to growth for your business.

  • Jeff,
    This is a great post! and so very true to even where I am right now. A gardener, and entrepreneur, and a book keeper. I cannot wait to sit down with you one day.

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