A Business Olive Grove

2 Min. Read

Fall is olive harvest season in Italy. Recently, I had the chance to help collect olives from trees that have been on one family’s property for generations. While balanced precariously on a shaky ladder pulling fruit off the branches by hand, I realized that one could think about a business in terms of an olive grove – just like one could think about a business in terms of the life cycle of a lobster. Both examples have applications that can serve every industry well.

Planting olive trees takes foresight we don’t always cultivate, and time and effort we don’t always devote. However, once completed, the investment provides a return for years to come.

Move past the urgency of everyday challenges and invest time in planting for your future. Here are four ways to “plant olive trees” in your business:

  1. Build an organizational chart with placeholders for positions you might not be able to afford today, but imagine needing in the months and years ahead. Knowing what talents you will one day be looking to hire will likely help you find them more easily.
  2. Invest in IT systems that have more capacity than you need today. It’s never fun, and often costly, when a business opportunity is frustrated by a decision made years ago to underinvest in software.
  3. Keep a list of capital improvements or other purchases you expect to need in the future. Make time to assess the available options and get to know the suppliers before you urgently need something.
  4. Cultivate relationships for the future. Attend a trade show in a parallel industry you might one day enter, explore a conference you’ve never visited, or volunteer time within your industry.

These ideas are relevant to any business. Operating with the time horizon of those who planted olive groves centuries ago can help your business enjoy the tasty fruit – and oil – of your labors more consistently for years to come.