Faith in a Seed, investment in the Roots: How to cultivate the Garden of Entrepreneurial Ventures

Henry David Thoreau once said, “Though it is unlikely that a plant will sprout up where there has been no seed, I believe in the power of a seed.” If you can convince me that there is a seed there, I’m ready to see miracles. This quote is great, but I feel it places too much emphasis on the seed or idea. A seed is important, but I believe that the focus should shift to the roots (processes of goals, human capital etc.). A single seed can be the key to developing.

This observation reminded me of the recent Western Carolina University Leadership Development Tour of the Cradle of Forestry, Western North Carolina. Here I learned about the life and development approach that oak trees will take. It is interesting to note that an oak tree will spend approximately 70 – 80 percent of its energy and resources in the first 20-25 years of its life developing a strong and pervasive root network. The seed is only the beginning point. However, the root system of a future, powerful oak is what is truly genius in its development.

It is important to think about the oak tree’s way of living. The oak tree doesn’t grow tall and strong first. Instead, it chooses to stay small and dig deep into the ground. An oak tree does not grow for immediate gratification or short-term results, but rather for their long or ultimate goals. This is a great lesson for all human beings. But it’s particularly important for those who choose to “choose to accept a new order in things”, as Machiavelli said, through innovation and entrepreneurship.

When you look at an entrepreneurial venture as an example, the visible surface of what you see is only a fraction the effort and energy that was invested in the idea or organization. These are the main components of a start up’s root system.

• Value Proposition – identifies an aspect of your product/service that makes your offering appealing to potential customers and helps sell and market that product. This is the foundation of your venture.
• Talent Development/Cultivation – a basic strategy for bringing in, developing, inspiring, and maintaining the best talent associated with your venture with the greater goal of sustainability. Talent development is a way to ensure consistency, trust, superior customer service and product development while ensuring your value proposition is being applied.
• Strategic/Business Plan – frames your venture in a standard way by providing objectives and methods/strategies for reaching them. It is an accepted document that potential funders will be able to relate to. This serves as a stronger expansion of your product/idea, the value proposition and the stakeholders.

The most important lesson you can learn as an entrepreneur is to be true to your roots. This will allow you to invest your energy, time, and resources in your roots. Your roots will be there to support you as your growth takes you to new heights.


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