I was driving through the Prairies last week and as I saw farm after farm for sale, my mind drifted to what it would be like to be a farmer.
I imagined the rhythm of the seasons, the sense of accomplishment of seeing crops grow before my eyes and the reaping of abundance from seeds scattered on fertile ground with the hope of a huge harvest.
I honestly don’t know a lot about farming or growing except for the few grains of knowledge that have been passed on to me from my brother-in-law, who is an agronomist, or my mother, who toils year after year in her garden.
However, like generations of farmers before me, I would hope that I would be successful as a farmer.
But I’m sure that those happy images of success would shortly be dashed with the reality of the hard work that farmers put in season after season.
As entrepreneurs, we often look at other businesses and imagine how life would be in that trade. We think that with our skills, it would be easy to be successful – without knowing much about the business model.
We think that those retailers and restaurateurs are making a killing; that running a dealership, a tech company, a construction company, a gold mine, a hotel or a garage would be simple.
We believe that if we were a consultant, coach, dentist or a doctor, we would have no worries because we would be rich.
The reality is often so different.
As a business coach, I’m blessed to work with passionate owners in a huge variety of business models. I support these leaders as they try to understand what they got themselves into. I teach them how business works and I guide them through their trouble spots.
I’m often called to help with transitioning a family from generation to generation within a business or helping an owner prepare for retirement.
One day I might assist an owner in coming up with a strategy to ensure that a business is profitable and sustainable, the next day I might mentor a leader in engaging their employees.
Business coaching is like farming to a degree. I help plant seeds, germinate ideas and fertilize for growth. It might look easy from the outside, but it takes a lot of hard work and energy. Like any other business model, 60 per cent of business coaches never make money or they’re just marginally profitable. Most business coaches go on to something else after a year or two.
However, like a farmer, this is what I’m called to do. As the land calls a farmer, a table calls a restaurateur, or patient calls a doctor, as entrepreneurs we all heed our calls, we plant our seeds and hope they germinate.
Too often, however, entrepreneurs fail to stay long enough to see the seeds we’ve planted through to their fruition. We seem to think that the grass is greener on another field. We don’t figure out the business model and often as we’re on the cusp of something great, we get wanderlust, we become discouraged, we change directions and we fail to reap what we’ve sown.
Sometimes if the fields are barren and fail to produce harvest, we should move to another plot of land. If the climates are changing, we may need to learn what it takes to produce a different crop. There should be no shame if we realize that we’re not cut out to be a farmer or an entrepreneur, and decide we should work for someone else.
However, if we believe it’s just more hard work that’s holding us back, the lack of understanding about how to profit from the years we’ve put into a venture, or we need some fertilizer for our soil, perhaps we need to think differently about how we’ll reap our results.
Like farming, business can harvest great yields if we put the time into clearing the land and tilling the soil – as long we’re patient while our crops mature.
Troy Media columnist David Fuller, MBA, is a certified professional business coach and author who helps business leaders ensure that their companies are successful. David is author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy. Send Dave the seeds of your thoughts about this article to firstname.lastname@example.org