5 Corporate lessons to learn from farming
Corporate life and farming may have some interesting similarities. Here are some important lessons about corporate life that a person can learn from farming.
While the joy of farming and gardening is immense, to me it is also amazingly analogous to the stints in sales, strategy, marketing and communications that I have straddled across. This was during the non COVID times when on one of the weekends, I was chilling out on my farm at Karjat. During the breaks in between planting vegetable saplings, the fragrance of the soil and the cool breeze provided a serene setting to reflect on my corporate journey.
Sipping on a unique tea blended with leaves of a lime tree that my farm help brews for instant energy during breaks, my refreshed mind drew quite interesting parallels between farming and corporate working. I was amazed at the number of lessons that could be learnt just by being observant!
Business environment is critical
If the season is not right for a particular vegetable/fruit or in analogy market/economy is not conducive for your product, its common sense not to invest resources behind it. I mean, while mangoes are just perfect, trying to grow passion fruit in Karjat would probably be like attempting to cut coconut with a shaving blade! Diversifying your business in an unrelated area that you know nothing about (without research and competency) is like trying to grow something in a hostile environment unless of course one has the resources to create the right ambience, say greenhouses!
“You reap what you sow” runs on the Pareto principle
Not all seeds that you sow, will necessarily germinate! Half of the seeds sown in an organic way (without chemical protection) are either picked up by smart birds or rodents who nibble the sprouts in the night. To maximize the yield, you have to ensure that you keep sowing more and keep protecting what you have sowed. Likewise, 80 percent of your revenue comes from 20 percent of your customers. A smart salesman has to protect customers from competition, keep pitching for new ones and constantly enhance the prospect base. Higher the base, bigger the probability of a sale.
Nurturing is a must
Our plants and vegetables need proper sunlight and water. I laughed when someone advised me to speak to my plants and honestly, I did not have the last laugh! I found that the more I cared and nurtured, higher was the yield. TLC works. Similarly, communication is a must; customers need attention, they need to be given importance. Getting them to signup is not enough. The concept of customer relationship management must have certainly emerged out of inspirations from a well-managed farm.
Periodic weeding is essential
Weeds suck up the soil nutrients, are useless and makes the farm look bad (reputation management). They can sometimes lead to a crisis by killing the main plant. The yield is hampered; what a direct connect with any organization’s well-being. Periodic pruning of toxic elements, whether it is disgruntled or rogue employees, unproductive policies, systems, processes or just too much of debts, is essential. Just like weedicides (hopefully organic) used on a farm, it is essential for organizations to have systems in place to eliminate wastage of resources.
A successful farm is a classic example of thriving interdependencies just like an organization with engaged employees who work seamlessly across functions! Stray cows, grazing on the farm provide manure and the ticks on their body are food for the birds around them. The pollen carrying bees that get nectar in return from the flowering plants is such a symbiotic relation. Do I have to even explain a corporate parallel!
I agree it is the 4G era and patience is rare. However, good results; be it in farming or business – are not like instant coffee. They need significant nurturing. The 4 P’s of farming (and this is my original!) – Planning, Planting, Passion and Perseverance hold true even for any business! The 5th “P” in my case apparently is my surname “Patil”!