Cutting through the weeds: Business Lessons from the Garden


Gardening can teach a lot about business. As I dug out the weeds and built my new garden, I thought of many parallels.



Here are some of them:

1)   Know your stuff…or dirt. To be successful in business, strive to be a master in your field. Successful gardeners realize a thriving plot requires more than dirt, seeds and water. Plants also respond better to the right mix of nutrients. Knowing your stuff produces better yields.

2)   Have a vision. Successful gardeners have a vision on how their gardens will look from spring through fall. This is also the same for successful business people. They are leaders. They have the vision on where they are going and why. To quote Jack Welch, “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”

3)   Have a plan. As I discuss in a previous bloggoing forward in business without a plan leaves results to chance. It reminds me of people who buy plants they like and just plunk them anywhere.

4)   Have a plan B. The garden I planned looked perfect on paper until I started planting. There just was not enough room. Lacking the time to build a larger garden this year, I am putting the section that did not work out in pots instead. Pots are also nice because you can move them around in the growing season to get the best results.

5)   Never stop learning. Master gardeners do not know everything. They are still learning as new techniques come online. Make it a point to keep investing in education and training, especially because technology is constantly changing how we work.

6)   It is OK to get dirty. Actually, that is part of the fun! Too many executives run the show without taking the time to do line jobs or talk to those who do. Often, this results in a disconnect between the executive and the practicalities of actually doing the work.


Competitors are like weeds around the garden.
They will encroach upon your space at the first opportunity.

7)   Stay in your niche. I see people at the garden centers act like kids in the candy store. They overbuy plants without anticipating the attention they will need. Do not branch out until you know your existing field really well and can afford to start planting something new.

8)   Experiment. At the same time, do not be afraid to try new things in a deliberate manner while not losing sight of your niche.

9)   Pay attention to the signs of trouble. Maintaining a healthy workspace is like having a healthy garden. Pay attention to signs to signs of dysfunction. For the gardener, insect damage is a sign of not paying attention. The same is true for executives who would rather live in denial or hope things will work out. Few things work out themselves without intervention.

10) Know your competition. Competitors are like weeds around the garden. They will encroach upon your space at the first opportunity. Just as a good garden has an extra buffer zone around it to protect it from encroaching weeds, you must constantly monitor your competitors. Believe me, they are watching you.