Business Lessons from the Mulcher

In setting up my website with my team, my strategist tells me I need 3 – 5 blog categories. I made one of them “Eco-Sustainability” and this was instantly questioned by her. What’s the deal? I explain that even though I’m not teaching eco-sustainability, it’s a huge passion of mine, and it would resonate as a sub-culture of my niche market. So then my website developer suggests that perhaps a good way to work it in, being a business coaching website and all, is to write articles linking eco-sustainability with good business practice.

Challenge accepted.

Next morning, I’m mulching up quite a large amount of branches I had pruned from a tree in my backyard. One thing that often happens while I’m working away with my hands is that it allows my mind to wander and ponder, and I consider the many parallel lessons that my mulcher is teaching me about good business practices.

Mulching gives back to the earth

The beautiful thing about mulching my pruned tree branches is that I spread it directly to the garden beds, which helps to conserve water, and as it breaks down it feeds the soil with carbon and nitrogen to ensure healthy plants.

In business, it’s good practice to take the excess from our business activity – the profit – and put it back into our business. Consider your business is the earth. It produces the product or service to deliver to your customer, and the quality of these products and services is directly proportional to what you put into the soil (business). By re-applying some of the excess funds from your successful growth to the business in the form of assets, you strengthen your bottom line, and the business becomes even more successful as you use these assets to improve your ability to deliver your product or service.

A whole lotta branches make a little pile of mulch

One thing that surprised me as I’m mulching away is the amount of mulch I was getting from each branch. Sure, it was chopped up into tiny little pieces, but in its former state, the branch was very long, had lots of leaves, and took up quite a big area. It was all still the same volume of mass, just concentrated into a small pile.

This made me consider how long it takes me to prepare a marketing video. I spend hours setting up, rehearsing, recording, editing, re-editing, re-shooting, to end up with a 2 minute video. How does that work? And I realise that it’s the same volume of mass, to end up with such a small final product. It’s just what it takes to create that end product. If I were to take short-cuts, and not edit as effectively, or take the necessary effort to set up from the beginning, how much of an impact will that have on the end product? Don’t cut corners. When your finished product is a concentration of all the effort that’s gone into something, you can tell. The same is true if you manufacture your products to sell. Thinking of everything that goes into it, the end result can seem a bit small. But it’s all there.

Don’t over-fill the feed chute!

Occasionally, a branch I was mulching started off pretty simple, but as the smaller branches came off it, then each of them had a good amount of leaves, by the time we get to the end of that branch the feed chute was chock-a-block, and we had problems. The mulcher jammed, and I needed to pull some out then feed it through a bit at a time.

Similarly, when we produce reports or data for clients, staff, managers or directors, it’s important to not create a bottle-neck. For example, say you’re a bookkeeper, and your intention is to show your “not a numbers person” client how the past quarter has performed to the same time last year. How will this client, with a limited capacity to take in new financial information, be able to process a large volume of data all at once? You need to reign it in, and provide your client with just enough information at a time that they can process it effectively before giving them the next key piece of data. With other clients who may have a larger capacity (ie bigger feed chutes), then go for it. Chuck it all at them at once if they can handle it.

Answers come from Nature

So as I mulched up my tree prunings, spreading it over my garden beds, I think of how grateful I am for the lessons my mulcher has just taught me. I love finding answers and insights from nature. It reminds me of a line from “The Power Of One” where Doc says with confidence: “Any question you ever have, the answer you’ll find in nature.” 

I want to honour this wisdom from nature, and I commit myself to working and living in harmony with her great power and beauty. Business is a great vehicle to deliver the life I want for my family, so when it works in alignment with what’s really important, everything works better, and I have peace, confidence, and power.