Whether you’re a chiropractor, attorney, coach, consultant, dentist, photographer, speaker, physician, insurance broker, real estate mogul, or dog walker… FEAST or FAMINE is an issue that was solved — for good — many years ago.
You see, hundreds of years ago, most of humanity relied on hunting for food. We ate what we killed. (Feasted.) And then, when the food ran out (Famine.) we went hunting again.
Sounds a little like business right? You have a client — or many – and the marketing “arm” of your business is busy serving the clients you have. When you realize that you’re facing a famine again, you –for lack of a better term — go hunting. Well, the feast and famine cycle was solved when we — as humans — learned to harvest our own food.
We learned how, where, when and what to plant. We learned growth and maturity cycles. And — as a direct result — our food supply became much more stable. In the same way, a solid client cultivation plan makes our business more secure and our income more predictable and stable. This is 1/2 of where we’ll “live” this month.
So, let’s get started.
First, we’ll talk about the “standard business model.” Here’s where MOST businesses live… a common (but entirely ineffective) way to do business:
We sow seeds. Typically, once we open our proverbial doors in business, we immediately get business cards and begin papering the town. We call it sowing seeds, or “getting our name out there.” And keep sowing. Occasionally we get a sale… which is unfortunate because then we think we’re doing something right.
Even a broken clock is right twice a day…
Business Lessons from Nature
My Grandad — pictured here with Summer back in 2011 — was many things, and I miss him so much more than I ever thought was possible. But among the many things he was, he was a sharecropper in his early years and — with his brother — still farming late into his life. He taught me a lot.
Will you indulge me for a bit? Below is the information you’d find if you wanted to plant a cucumber. (It’s all in turquoise, so you can easily skim it … take in the ENORMITY of the information… and then catch back up with me further down the page.)
USDA Hardiness Zones: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
Sun exposure: Full Sun
Soil type: Loamy
Soil pH: Neutral
Cucumbers are a warm-season vegetable that will grow in any amount of space thanks to its ability to climb. The most common varieties of slicing cucumbers have sprawling vines with large green leaves and curling tendrils. The growth of these plants is fast, and the crop yield is abundant if you care for them properly.
- Select a site with full sun.
- Ideally, soil should be neutral or slightly alkaline with a pH of 7.0. Improve clay soil by adding organic matter. Improve dense, heavy soili by adding peat, compost or rotted manure. (Get a soil test if you are unsure of your soil type; contact your local county cooperative extension.) Light, sandy soils are preferred for northern gardens, as they warm quickly in the spring.
- Mix in compost and/or aged manure before planting to a depth of 2 inches and work into the soil 6 to 8 inches deep. Make sure that soil is moist and well-drained, not soggy.
- For an early crop, start cucumber seeds indoors about 3 weeks before you transplant them in the ground. They like bottom heat of about 70ºF (21ºC). If you don’t have a heat mat, put the seeds flat on top of the refrigerator or perch a few on top of the water heater.
- Seed or transplant outside in the ground no earlier than 2 weeks after last frost date. Cucumbers are extremely susceptible to frost damage; the soil must be at least 65ºF for germination. Do not plant outside too soon!
- Sow seeds in rows, 1 inch deep and 6 to 10 inches apart.
- If you are transplanting seedlings, plant them 12 inches apart.
- A trellis might be a good idea if you want the vine to climb, or if you have limited space. Trellising also protects the fruit from damage from lying on the moist ground.
- When planting seeds in the ground, cover with netting or a berry basket to keep pests from digging out the seeds.
- When seedlings emerge, begin to water frequently, and increase to a gallon per week after fruit forms.
- When seedlings reach 4 inches tall, thin plants so that they are 1½ feet apart.
- If you’ve worked in organic matter into the soil before planting, you may only need to side-dress your plants with compost or well-rotted manure. Or, if you wish, use a fertilizer from your garden store which is low nitrogen/high poatassium and phosphorus formula and apply at planting, 1 week after bloom, and every 3 weeks with liquid food, applying directly to the soil around the plants. Or, you can work a granular fertilizer into the soil. Do not overfertilize or the fruits will get stunted.
- Water consistently; put your finger in the soil and when it is dry past the first joint of your finger, it is time to water. Inconsistent watering leads to bitter-tasting fruit. Water slowly in the morning or early afternoon, avoding the leaves.
- Mulch to hold in soil moisture.
- If you have limited space or would prefer vertical vines, set up trellises early to avoid damage to seedlings and vines.
- Spray vines with sugar water to attract bees and set more fruit.
Cucumbers may not set fruit because the first flowers were all male. Both female and male floewrs must be blooming at the same time. This may not happen early in the plant’s life so be patient.
Lack of fruit may also be due to poor pollination by bees, especially if prevented by rain, cold temperatures, or insecticides. Remember, gynoecious hybrids require pollinator plants.
- Harvest regular slicing cucumbers when they about 6 to 8 inches long (slicing varieties).
- Harvest dills at 4 to 6 inches long and pickles at 2 inches long for pickles. The large burpless cucumbers can be up to 10 inches long and some types are even larger.
- Cucumbers are best picked before they seeds become hard and are eaten when immature. Do not let them get yellow. A cucumber is of highest quality when it is uniformly green, firm and crisp.
- Any cucumbers left on the vine too long will also get tough skins and lower plant productivity.
- At peak harvesting time, you should be picking cucumbers every couple of days.
- Keep them picked. If you don’t, as plants mature, they will stop producing.
- Cucumbers are over 90 percent water. Store wrapped tightly in plastic wrap to retain moisture.
- They will keep for a week to 10 days when stored properly in the refrigerator.
Notice the detail. The if / then protocols. The warnings. The instructions. This is all to grow a cucumber… something we can buy for less than a buck at the local grocery store. And we know:
- When to plant.
- Where to plant.
- How and how often to nurture or water them.
- When to fertilize them for optimum production and with what.
- Expected harvest time.
But we’re not growing cucumbers. We’re cultivating clients, patients, customers… something far more valuable.
So, I give you all of this to ask you one question: do you know anything CLOSE to this about your ideal target market? If not, you’ll always be in feast or famine mode. Because in any industry and in any economy, your ability to harvest your own success hinges on your ability to know your market intimately.
And that’s your first Harvest Assignment: Start researching. What do YOU know about your own clients? Cut and paste my cucumber example above, use it as creative guide… and create something similar about YOUR ideal clients.