It’s a foolish person who tries to defy the laws of nature, time or change. In the end, just like all before them, they will surely fail. Likewise, I believe this ethos applies if you try to resist the characteristics behind the ever changing seasons; spring, summer, autumn and winter.
But what have the seasons of the year got to do with running your business?
By following nature’s course and the rhythm encoded in the seasons of life, a successful business or individual can prosper, develop and thrive.
Here are 5 rules of nature you can apply to your business to ensure it thrives whatever the season.
1. Treat a new business like a good gardener cares for their delicate spring plants.
Spring is the time of year when the days start getting longer and warmer, the birds start to build nests and plants start to emerge again. But it can still also be cold. In fact, cold enough for damaging deep frosts or even harsh snowfalls which can ruin a delicate new spring shoot or budding tree.
Of course the same is true in business.
New companies are especially vulnerable at their commencement. They have yet to become firmly established, toughened up and embedded, so they are an easy target for hostile predators, harsh economic downturns and legal pit falls.
A good business person knows this and takes special care and hard work to insulate and protect their fledgling enterprise at this delicate, but crucial, start-up phase.
2. Summer holidays are great, but along with a tan you can also get sunburn.
Summer is a favourite month for many. It’s a time of good weather, holidays, sunbathing and going out and enjoying ourselves. It is also a great time to get in shape and take advantage of the longer days to explore and enjoy the outdoor life to the full.
But there are things you need to do to protect yourself.
For example, you need to make sure you are not over exposed to the sun’s harmful rays and are always properly hydrated. You also have to make sure that you are not over extending yourself, pushing yourself too hard, burning the candle or neglecting tasks.
Companies that have survived their perilous ‘spring’ time phase and moved into the ‘summer’ period can likewise enjoy a burst of growth, new developments and favourable conditions. New markets can be explored and the business can flourish.
But just like people, companies can get burnt, deals can fall through, and don’t forgot how quickly and out of nowhere those flash summer storms appear; flooding and destroying everything in their path.
3. Autumn is a time of change, and change is a double edged sword.
By the time summer has ended and autumn has begun the landscape is normally dry and parched. Things have stopped growing and the leaves have started to fall off trees. The once lush verdant colours are replaced by the softer autumnal hues of red, yellow, orange and pink.
Autumn is filled to the brim with change, and everyone knows change brings both the good and the bad. It is a time of abundance, a time of harvests (and rituals) but also a time of preparation for the harsh coming inhospitable winter months.
A well-run business experiencing an autumn phase should be ready to capitalise on the last of the fair weather and any other unexpected opportunities before the quiet winter months finally creep in. It needs to be as financially strong as possible to withstand the difficult days that lay ahead, enough to see it well into spring when everything blossoms again.
4. In the winter even the simple things can become difficult.
That’s why animals hibernate or migrate!
In winter, the days are short and the nights are long. It can be wet, icy and very cold. As a consequence we are more likely to get ill, worn out and spend our time and energy just trying to keep warm and survive. It is certainly not a good time to be old, frail or weak. In nature only the strong survive. But it is also a fun festive time, a time to slow down, catch up on things indoors, snuggle up in front of the fire and reflect on the past and the future.
Businesses that are in the midst of an economic downturn or a quiet winter like patch should use this time to plan ahead, look at their business model and come up with new strategies to find new customers, save money, market better or even re-invent themselves if need be.
But most importantly they need to batten down the hatches and be prepared for the difficult days ahead.
5. By working with the seasons in mind you can play to your strengths and offset your weakness.
The most important thing to remember about the seasons is that they are just a series of transitions. Nothing is ever permanent. Everything changes eventually and comes back around again.
So, to be effective in business and in life generally, you should bear this in mind. Rather than fighting against time, go with the flow. Let its momentum help carry you in the direction of your choice rather than be a passive passenger going to an unknown destination.
You should make it your business to be aware of the direction that trends are moving in, learn that history repeats itself and apply the lessons of the past to your advantage and benefit.
But most importantly, enjoy the process and make the most of your journey through the seasons.