Growing Your Digital Garden - WM Commentary

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"The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one." — Mark Twain

Spring is around the corner, and if you are anywhere other than states famous for their year-around good weather (e.g. California, Hawaii, Florida…all those sound nice right about now), then it can’t come soon enough. Aside from more sunshine and higher temps, spring is a time for rebirth, regrowth, renewal— all the words synonymous with starting over.

In Chicago, for example, at time of writing it’s gray, windy and freezing, literally. Give this city about eight weeks, and we’ll start seeing hundreds of thousands of beautiful tulips line the Magnificent Mile (for the unfamiliar, that’s 13 blocks of North Michigan Avenue filled with hundreds of stores, dozens of hotels and a vital, bustling part of Chicago). While tulips may spring up naturally in certain parts of the world, their grand, welcomed appearance in the heart of the concrete Second City is no accident. Around St. Patrick’s Day — the same time the Chicago River is dyed green — landscapers lay the groundwork for the annual display that typically lasts from mid-April to the end of May. The city workers feel hurried to get this massive job finished. Their efforts are worth the troubles. When all is said and done, the tulips signify to Chicagoans that the long, cold winter is truly over.

In today’s über competitive digital landscape, plenty of businesses are facing a metaphoric Chicago winter, but each enterprise can plant its own seeds for success. There is no better time than now to plan, plant and protect your enterprise. Think of it as growing your digital garden.

Plan

In every business there are attractors and detractors impacting its success. If pressed to answer who is who at your company, I’m willing to bet you can point out whose commitment, loyalty and drive is unwavering. I’m also willing to bet, it’d be just as easy to point out whose actions, words and overall presence casts a negative shadow around projects, productivity and morale. Have you had an honest discussion with the latter group? If not, don’t put it off for tomorrow. Give them an opportunity to improve their behavior, but don’t plant bad seeds. Oftentimes we hang on to people and things out of fear. You didn’t get to be in a position of decision out of fear; don’t make decisions based on it either.

Plant

The act of planting is a leap of faith. You have to believe that your preparation will truly pay off. This is a time to take some risks. Promoting, hiring or delegating can be part of this process. If you know what it takes to take your business to the next level, but are bogged down with the everyday tasks you are hanging onto, hire, promote or delegate the right person for the job, so you can do yours — growing your business.

Protect

Just as you would nurture a garden, your business must have proper care and protection. While there is no magic insurance policy that protects your business from lawsuits or threats (either internal or external), due diligence is as close as it gets. This begins with understanding current issues. Online privacy is a big one, and enterprises keeping current with its changing tide are the ones positioned for success. So read everything you can, talk to everyone in your industry and keep learning.

Spring is a great time to start anew and part of the planting process is removing what was previously there. Beautiful tulips cannot grow on top of lifeless poinsettias. Just take one step at a time and know that sometimes it’s the simplest advice that has the greatest meaning. As my young son’s favorite book instructs, “Sprinkle seeds into the ground, scoop some dirt and pat it down. With sun and rain both helping out, soon the seeds begin to sprout.”

Go ahead and watch your digital garden grow.

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