What entrepreneurs can learn from the seasons

One of the key strengths of the entrepreneur is the continual desire to move things forward, to continuously improve things and to not be content just sitting around waiting for things to happen.

Richard Liew Idealog and Entrepreneur magazineUnfortunately, this strength can also prove to be the downfall of the entrepreneur.

In today's fast-paced society of instant gratification, we are being conditioned to expect that we can have anything we want – right now. We are conditioned to believe that success, fame or achievements can and should occur easily – overnight, even.

For many young entrepreneurs who are already impatient by nature, this desire for overnight success creates an unrealistic expectation of how quickly they can get their business up and running and achieving the revenue, market growth and profits they desire. This can cause incredible frustration and disappointment and this alone can often be enough for the impatient entrepreneur to throw in the towel and look for another venture or business idea to get started on.

But the biggest problem comes when they decide to keep going with the business they have started, and they start to do things at completely the wrong time.

One of my biggest personal 'aha!' moments was when I realised that just like everything else in life, businesses also go through seasons, and that trying to shortcut this universal law of seasons is a recipe for disaster.

The farmers knew that each season was a time for a different focus.

Spring - the time for planting and sowing your crops.
Summer - the time for growth and nurturing.
Autumn - the time for reaping what you sow and harvesting in readiness for the winter ahead.
Winter - a time for resting the land, cutting back the dead growth and the weeds, reflection and preparing for the next spring.

Every business goes through these cycles and for the entrepreneur, here's what each season means:

Spring - the time for innovation - creating your business, systems, products or services and testing them in the market. Suss out what works and prepare yourself for growth.

Summer - the time for promoting your business and aggressively growing your customer base/acquiring market share.

Autumn - the time for looking after the customers you've acquired and turning them in to ongoing revenue streams by delivering amazing service.

Winter - the time for resting, cleaning up messes, reassessing your product/service range, reassessing your market, making your plans and targets for the next year and preparing yourself, your team and your business for an even better year next year.

Obviously the seasons in business will have no correlation to the change of seasons weather-wise, and some businesses will move through these seasons faster than others depending on the nature of the business, the industry you're in and the skill of the entrepreneur in getting things done. The more skilled and experienced the entrepreneur, the faster their businesses can go through this cycle.

Unfortunately for many new entrepreneurs, they often want to be harvesting millions of dollars when they're still in the spring, or they're trying to capture new customers when they should be focused on keeping existing customers happy – or they're reinventing their services when they should be focused on monetising their existing ones.

Fighting the natural laws of time and life cycles, or trying to speed it up, only results in doing the wrong things at the wrong time, jeopardising the long-term success of your business.

While it's undoubtedly an amazing time to be alive, technology and the way we live today seems to have caused us to lose touch with nature and some of these fundamental laws about the way things work.

Understanding and making peace with the four seasons, and learning how to use them to your advantage is an essential skill for entrepreneurs.

Richard Liew is founder at Espire Media. Read more on his blog here.

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