by Judy Wogoman
One of the things that convinced me to buy my house was the trees. Especially the big maple tree at the corner of the lot. Huge, perfectly formed, the maple tree dominates the front yard.
There are lessons to be learned from nature, when we slow down enough to be taught. Here are some observations on “maple tree” management.
1. Position counts. The people who lived here before had three boys, and they had a treehouse in the maple tree. From that vantage point they could see the traffic approaching from all directions — not just the busy main street out front, but also the little side street. That position has also granted the maple tree the best light of the sun, and the nourishment of the cool rain.
But prime position is not without its disadvantages. Being the closest tree to the street means that a speeding vehicle careening out of control would hit the maple tree before reaching the smaller, weaker trees. There’s a possibility of damage. But over the years, the tree has grown strong — and in any contest between vehicle and tree, I’d bet on the tree.
In business, when you place yourself in a dominant position, you have to monitor both the main street approach (direct competition) and the side street (guerilla competition). Be aware of the possibility of damage–but focus on building your own strength to avoid destruction.
2. Behind-the-scenes support is essential for strength. I’ve read that a tree’s root system is as big – or bigger – than the part you can see.
In business, your root system is your list (of clients, referrals, newsletter and ezine subscribers, etc.). Give them time to grow strong to support the branches. If you place too much demand on them before they’re strong enough, they won’t be there when you need them. I once subscribed to an ezine that sent me 37 solo ads the first day I was subscribed. Guess how long I stayed on that list?
3. You may be forced to adapt to your surroundings. There is a STOP sign at the intersection. At least once a year, a few of the maple tree’s branches have to be trimmed to keep the sign visible. Maybe the tree doesn’t like that. But a serious accident could harm the tree, too. And if WE don’t trim it, the city will — and THEIR effort will be accompanied by a bill for the work and possible citation for violation of city ordinance.
Remember what I said about the odds in a contest between the tree and a vehicle? Well, a contest between your business and the law has the same type of odds, only in the opposite direction — it’s a lot easier to “trim” your activities to comply with the law, than to deal with the Consequences of NOT complying.
4. Technology isn’t everything. Our satellite dish is mounted on a pole beneath the tree. (In fact, we had to trim the tree to get a satellite signal.) In heavy winds, sometimes the branches still sway down and block the satellite signal.
No technology is immune to nature. You can stubbornly continue to surf in a thunderstorm, but even a surge protecter may not be enough to protect your equipment.
5. Everything moves in cycles. The maple tree can’t refuse to allow its leaves to change color and fall off. They’ll grow back in spring.
How many businesses have failed because they ignored the signs of “changing seasons” and fought the cycles instead of adapting to them? Learn the cycles. Grow when it’s time to grow; change when it’s time to change; discard the dying leaves to make room for new and better.
6. Mind your OWN business. I love the scent of the lilacs and honeysuckle. I love the shade of the maple tree. The maple tree doesn’t try to fill the air with scent. And there’s no WAY to put the wicker rocker beneath the lilac bush.
What is your main product or service? Do all your products and services complement each other? There’s a home business a few miles east of here that advertises (on the same sign) For sale: Night Crawlers! Homemade noodles! I’d hate to get THOSE packages confused! And I’ve noticed they don’t get a whole lot of business. Larry buys night crawlers from the “bait and tackle” shop and I buy homemade noodles from the Amish lady who sells “homemade noodles and baked goods.”
7. Your growth strategy determines your longevity. The corn out back grows several feet a month. You can’t even TELL if the maple tree has grown any in that time. But the corn stalk is spindly and thin. In a few more weeks, the corn will be finished. The tree, however, will be bigger, stronger, and a few inches taller.
How many “programs” have you seen spring up, grow fast and furious, only to disappear in a single season? I’ve seen at least a dozen in the past year.
8. Nature works in harmony. The maple tree doesn’t resent the fact that other Beings benefit from it. The squirrels scamper up the trunk, undisturbed. The cardinals and bluebirds rest on its branches. The dog mans his “security guard” post in the maple tree’s shade.
How many marketers bemoan the “tire-kickers” who take the freebies and leave? Guess what, people? If you’ve ever watched a true tire-kicker, he’s not really looking at the tire — he’s checking out the rest of the vehicle on his way to the tire.
The most successful marketers are the ones who follow common-sense principles and build their businesses to be sturdy, strong, and sensible. Like the maple tree, they learn and follow the Laws of Nature. They know when to bend, and when to stand firm. Their roots are strong, their branches healthy. When they burst into color, they’re impossible to ignore.
And they make your corner of the street, or place on the world wide web, a better place to be.
©2001 Judy Wogoman