Pruning is an art form with a science behind it. Any good gardener knows that skillful and timely pruning increases the strength and yield of your plant. Pruning can determine the direction of growth and suppress disease. But ya gotta do it! Now is the time to take a good look at your business and sharpen those pruning shears.
When we were building the Barefoot Wine brand, we would sweat out the new year because that’s when the chain buyers and big box stores would cut out the “dead wood.” We knew that if our brand didn’t perform to their expectations, it could get discontinued. And well it should, since there was only so much shelf space. Buyers had to prune out the losers in order to make more room for the winners. Luckily we were rarely cut out of the sets because we were doing a lot of pruning of our own!
Every year we looked at our business with a pruner’s eye. What was growing and what was dead wood? What needed more support and what needed to go to make way for new growth? Then we made some strategic pruning decisions.
We started with what was working well and realized that with more mind share, encouragement, and support it would work a whole lot better. We also realized that mind share was limited, as were funds and time dedicated to oversight. So, this additional energy, focus, and attention had to come from somewhere. Then we looked at what wasn’t working, what wasn’t producing, and what was sucking our energy, and that’s where we pruned!
This is not to say that investing in the future is a bad idea if it doesn’t pay off immediately. On the contrary. You need to invest to see a return and sometimes that investment can be a multi-year investment. But that’s where the real skill comes in. What investments in people and initiatives have gone on too long and need to be cut? How do you know when is the right time to say good-bye?
Gardeners love the winter because without the leaves, the trees and shrubs show their true structure. It’s easier to see where they are naturally headed and what adjustments are required to help them along. Many businesses slow down at New Years and sometimes for several months thereafter, giving you an opportunity to examine your structure without all the day-to-day demand clouding your view. Now is the time to get in there and make some strategic cuts that will take you in the direction you want to go. Now is the time to channel energy from losing propositions into winning ones.
When you analyze your business this winter, consider these two basic pruning principles that worked for us:
- Protect. Decide who and what could improve with more help, guidance, or support. Ask yourself how they have demonstrated their potential to grow, and what they have brought into fruition. Discover the budding opportunities. Are they scalable? Decide if they are worth additional support.
- Prune. What is not producing well? Who and what are sapping your resources, thus reducing your ability to support who and what are working? Make cuts in order to channel your limited amount of time, energy, money, and focus into those people and those initiatives you want to protect and nurture.
Annual pruning is really the reallocation of your resources. There will be new growth in the spring. So, get ready for it now and reap the rewards in a few months!
Here’s to a more efficient, and thereby more prosperous, New Year!
Who We Are
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.
Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.
They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.
Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at www.consumerbrandbuilders.com.
To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.