Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Gardening

I enjoy gardening. I enjoy starting companies. Therefore, gardening is like starting a company. Or, so goes my deductive, syllogistic, analogical thinking.

Let me explain. I was in my garden today (enjoying it), hose in one hand, cell phone in the other, chatting with a friend about starting a company (which we both enjoy) when it hit me: gardens and gardening are similar to companies and entrepreneurship.

First, gardens. All gardens begin with site selection: A gardener selects an area and commences preparation. The gardener will then plant seeds. Seeds are fueled by water (not too much, not too little), sunlight (the more, the better) and artificial and organic pesticides. As we explored last week, our pollen-transporting friends, bees, play a role too. Given a week or two of nurturing, the seeds sprout and plants emerge. Given many more weeks of nurturing and fuel, the plants grow, blossom, produce vegetables, and collectively dispel inconvenient truths. Visitors visit the garden, chat with the gardener, and (perhaps) enjoy its products. As the garden grows, more gardeners and more fuel are needed; the simple joy of seeds, soil and water evaporates. And, gardeners oftentimes create and cultivate new gardens with new plants in different sites. Great gardeners love what they do. They sweat. They get their hands dirty. They are protective, even defensive, of their garden. They – with help from mother nature – make something out of nothing. Eventually, gardens (or the plants therein) die. Generally, they are replaced or replenished. Most gardeners enjoy the fruit of their labor (fresh fruits and veggies and flowers), and some even make money at it.

Now, companies. All companies begin with selecting and preparing an idea. The entrepreneur (garden) then tests and incubates his ideas (seeds), fueled by seed capital, refrigerators full of Mountain Dew and Coors Light, and colleagues (team members, advisors, family). Given time, the company will sprout an embryonic (V1) product. Given more time and nurturing and fuel, the company matures, blossoming and producing worthy products (and perhaps propelling inconvenient truths). Visitors visit the company, meet with the entrepreneur and his fellow gardeners, and (perhaps) purchase products or add fuel (capital) to the company. As the company grows, more team members and more capital are needed; the simple joy of ideas, inspiration, and all-nighters evaporates. And, entrepreneurs oftentimes create and cultivate new companies with new products. Great entrepreneurs love what they do. They sweat. They get their hands dirty. They are protective, even defensive, of their company. They – with help from others – make something out of nothing. Eventually, companies (or their products) die. Generally, they are replaced or replenished. Most entrepreneurs enjoy the fruit of their labor (independence, pride, gratification, recognition), and some even make money at it.

Time to get back to my garden.

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Post-script (8.21.07): Dug up a relevant and terrific post from Richard Watson, Unearth Growth by Digging in the Dirt. Watson is brilliant and I love his encapsulation: Gardening has no end. There is no finish line. It is about a journey not a specific destination.

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