Growing your business
Have you ever stopped to think about how long growing your business really takes? The endurance, the nurturing and the patience required to really help it grow?
We’d all like to think that it’s as easy as purchasing a domain, getting our website built, and firing up our social media profiles. Once all of that happens, we’ll just start to grow naturally, right?
“Wait – you mean to tell me that’s not when people start to find us and follow us and love us and beg us to sell them stuff??” Not quite…
If you’re in the process of growing your own business right now, you can attest to this.
There is A LOT of work that goes into growing your business and some key traits that cannot be left behind, like endurance, passion, persistence, drive, motivation, commitment, patience… the list goes on.
All of these things are so important because without them, you’ll quit, give up, get frustrated and walk away. Because there will be times when you put a ton of time, energy, passion, and pure hard work into growing your business, and nothing will happen – not right away anyway.
There will be times when you put a lot of time, energy, passion, and pure hard work into growing your business, and you won’t have anything to show for it for a really long time.
That’s because growing your business doesn’t happen overnight.
The other day I was talking to a friend of mine who is also an entrepreneur. I asked him how his business was going and he excitedly replied, “It’s going well – I feel like I’m finally coming up on my fifth year!”
(I’ll note here that my friend hasn’t been in business for five years.)
I looked at him confused, because for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why he was so excited – especially since I knew he hasn’t actually been in business for five years. So I stopped him and said, “Wait, what do you mean you’re coming up on your fifth year?”
He then told me the story of the Chinese Bamboo Tree.
By the time he was finished, I had chills. The similarities I saw between what one goes through in order to successfully grow a Chinese Bamboo Tree and what one goes through in order to successfully grow a business were striking. So much so that I came home, told John the story, and started writing this post immediately.
So I want to share the story of the Chinese Bamboo Tree with you because I think it puts growing your business into perspective. It makes you realize that growing your business doesn’t happen overnight, rather it’s the result of many, many months – sometimes years – of nurturing that compound and, if done right, will eventually give back to you what you’ve put in.
The Chinese Bamboo Tree seed is planted day one, and it sits underneath the soil unnoticed, much like any seed you plant. But unlike planting a flower or a vegetable, the growth doesn’t come with the next season or within 4-6 weeks for you to marvel at and be proud of.
There is no immediate celebration or any recognition of your work.
All during the first year, you just water the seed.
For the entire second year, you continue to water the seed.
The third year… you water the seed.
The passion, persistence, drive, motivation and commitment that you’ve put into growing this tree continues throughout the fourth year – still without acknowledgement. There is not more than a single inch of the tree that you can see visually.
But in the fifth year, something amazing happens. In the fifth year, your endurance is rewarded. Within a 6 week period, the Chinese Bamboo Tree grows 80 feet tall.
80 feet is a lot of growth, every inch of it an impossibility without the time spent during the first four years to nurture that growth. Because what happens during those four years is integral to establishing the support the tree will need to grow that tall, that fast.
When you’re growing your business, there are an infinite number of frustrations, let downs, and times when you’ll put in a ton of work and see zero immediate or tangible results. But that doesn’t mean you should give up and walk away.
Of course there will be instances when you’re in “the dip” that Seth Godin talks about, and you’ll just know it’s time to leave it behind you rather than continue to trudge through until you’ve come up on the other side – I’m not denying that.
But if everyone took the time to realize and acknowledge just how much work goes into growing your business every single day – how much work goes into building that foundation and establishing the support your business will require once it does start to grow – and the compound effect that can have if you truly commit to it, then I know there would be a greater number of successful businesses out there today.
What’s your take on the Chinese Bamboo Tree? Can you liken your time, effort and endurance in growing your business to the time, effort and endurance it takes to grow a Chinese Bamboo Tree? Let us know in the comments section below!