Growing Acorn Businesses into Oaks with Mindfulness

Acorn businesses are businesses with aspirations for greatness, whether to change the world or fulfill the lifestyle of the owner. Acorns need cultivation to grow into a seedling, then tree, then mighty oak.

Acorn businesses are delicate if you overwater your seedling it will drown. The problem with seedling businesses is not a lack of great ideas but rather that there are too many that can drown a fledgling business. Long to-do lists mean an overworked, stressed-out workforce. But by using the principles of mindfulness you can let go of distractions and grow your business by increasing focus.

Choosing mindfulness to achieve Business Zen

Running a business isn’t for the faint-hearted. Operators have to make everything happen – their job is to make it look like a swan gliding across the surface pond. But underneath the surface, their legs are getting a furious workout.

Some people make it seem easy. These are the people that have mindfully recognised that there is a better way and are using awareness and acceptance to work on a higher level.

What it feels like when you have too many ideas

It all starts with awareness. Do you have a stack of projects like website redesign, marketing initiatives, new product ideas, etc. but are struggling to get through them all?

The to-do list just gets longer every day and it feels like you’re trying to stay on a treadmill that’s set to a constant sprint. It’s a struggle I face in my own business. I’m lucky that I’m surrounded by smart people who are a constant source of great ideas.

I can’t say no to any of the ideas because they are good ideas that make perfect sense. But what I get left with is so many ideas that it’s impossible to do them all.

Awareness is knowing how this is affecting your business

Say you have ten projects on the go and you’re halfway through them all. What you have for all your hard work is nil.

As Seth Godin says, you make progress when you ship, not when you work. 5 finished projects are infinitely better than 10 half finished projects.

Awareness is understanding the personal cost

It’s not just about the business. When you’ve got a never-ending list of to-do items you’re overworked, stressed out, feeling guilty about all the unfinished work and never really able to switch off.

Mindfulness – deciding to work on a higher level

All this means that it’s time to do some pruning. Being mindful about your business means spending some time working on the business. Become aware of what’s taking you forward and what’s holding you back. Deciding what not to do. And achieving acceptance about compromises you have to make in the pursuit of focus.

Getting stuck in the trees

In my own business, even though I am a strategy professional, I struggle to achieve the right focus. I get excited about all the different ideas and the potential they hold. And I am too busy working in the business, to work on the business.

I am too deep in the trees to see the forest!

Being mindful is about realising that you need to take a different point of view. Switching between the 40,000 foot view and micro view isn’t something that comes naturally – sometimes the best way to get a different perspective is to use someone else’s.

Scaling is hard work and doing everything means doing nothing.

Adding more work is not the path to Business Zen. Be mindful of your realistic capacity. Many business owners are struggling to keep their heads above the water but don’t have a conscious awareness that they are at serious risk of overwatering their business.

Without awareness, acorn businesses don’t realise why they’re struggling in the first place. Awareness is the first step to solving any problem.

In business strategy, it’s more important to choose what not to do than what to do.

Looking to scale your business? Drop in to Hub to see how we can help.

Keith Tately, Hub William Street Member

Keith is the founder of Manager Foundation which is dedicated to improving work life. Manager Foundation focuses on helping managers to improve employee performance with ethical management practices. Keith likes to bring the wisdom of thousand year old traditions like mindfulness to modern business to create fulfilling work places.