Posted on October 1, 2013 @ 04:22:00 AM by Paul Meagher
I'm a big fan of Permaculture.
Lately I've been taking a free online course on Permaculture design. I recently watched some lectures that dealt with the ecological topic of "succession". The teacher, Larry Korn, describes succession as the ecological process that takes place after soil is disturbed. Soil can be disturbed by plowing, tilling, tree harvesting, fire, etc... Succession refers to pioneer plant species that initially take over and how they are eventually replaced by other plant species.
Larry makes the observation that many gardeners do not realize that they are dealing with early stage successional growth patterns when they till up the ground and try to plant something new. They wonder why there are so many weeds and eventually many come to see themselves as having a "black thumb" - the opposite of having a "green thumb". If these gardeners step back and appreciate that they are in an early stage successional growth situation, they might appreciate that "weeds" are pioneer species in this context and that they might eventually disappear once the soil gets what it needs from these plants. Provided you don't keep re-disturbing your soil, these weeds will eventually be replaced by other types of plants that can survive in the conditioned soil, that is, soil with the right tilth, the right balance of nutrients, and with a thriving microbial soil community.
Starting up a business is like planting into newly disturbed soil. There is alot of weeding that needs to be done to get the plants that you want to grow to grow. There is alot of "pivoting" that needs to be done to deal with weeds that are threatening your plants or to deal with plants that have been wiped out and soil that might be in need of replanting. For permaculturists, the key to success is to have a successional planting strategy that respects nature's successional laws. A successional planting strategy consists of planting food and money-making annual plants while at the same time planting longer-term trees and shrubs that will ultimately yield more food in the form of fruit and require less weeding to maintain if done properly. Initially, planting these trees and shrubs will not make you any money but eventually they'll be providing you with the bulk of your food and income and offer a more sustainable basis for your business going forward.
If you follow through on a successional planting strategy eventually you will have an edible forest garden consisting of a mix of trees, shrubs, and vegetables.
What I want to leave you with is something to meditate upon that might be useful in terms of thinking about the bigger picture on how to grow your business. Namely, how can you grow your business with a successional growth strategy that balances what you need today to provide income and necessities, with a longer term view towards developing a business that consists of many lines-of-business each working in harmony with each other?