Belief in the seed, investment in the roots: cultivating the garden on an entrepreneurial endeavor

Henry David Thoreau once said: “Although I do not believe that a plant will grow where there was no seed, I have great faith in the seed. Convince me that you have a seed there and I am ready to expect miracles. ”Although I appreciate this quote, I think it may place too much emphasis on the seed (or idea) alone. Although the seed is necessary, I believe that attention should be focused on the roots (processes, goals, human capital, etc.) that a seed can lead to development.

In fact, this observation reminds me of a recent tour of the University of West Carolina to develop leadership in the Cradle of Forestry in West North Carolina, where I learned about the approach to life (and development) that an oak tree would adopt. Interestingly, in the first approximately 20 – 25 years of its life, the oak will consume ~ 70% – 80% of its energy and resources, developing a healthy and widespread root system. In this example, while the seed is the starting point, it is the root system of a future, mighty oak that serves as the true genius of its development.

I think it’s important to think about the oak’s approach to life. Instead of growing tall and strong first, the oak remains small and initially chooses to grow deep, deep in the ground. Oak grows with their long or final game in mind, not instant gratification and short-term results. This approach to life teaches a lesson for all of us as human beings, but takes a particularly important lesson for those of us who, as Machiavelli said, “choose to take on a new order of things” in the form of innovation and entrepreneurship.

For example, when you think of an entrepreneurial endeavor, what you see standing above the surface is only part of the energy and results of the effort invested in that organization or idea. For the purposes of this article, the main components of the root system of a start-up company are as follows:

• Value proposition – identifies an aspect of your product / service that makes your proposition attractive to potential customers and helps sell and market that product. This serves as a cornerstone of your endeavor.

• Talent development – a basic strategy for attracting, developing, inspiring and sustaining the best talent associated with your endeavor, with the greater goal of sustainability. In addition, talent development can help maintain consistency, trust, and more exceptional customer service or product development while aligning with the application of your value proposition.

• Strategic / Business Plan – shapes your endeavor in a standard way, providing goals and methods / strategies for achieving them. This is a recognized document that potential financiers can contact and it serves as a more accurate and stable extension of your idea / product, value proposition and stakeholders involved.

Finally, as an entrepreneur, the most valuable lesson you need to learn from the mighty oak is to remember to stay true to your roots. By doing this, you will invest your time, energy, experience and resources at your roots. If you nourish your roots, they can support you as you continue to grow to new heights and new depths!