Week 9: From little acorns mighty oaks grow

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The old saying that ‘from little acorns mighty oaks grow’ came about to show that sometimes something very large can grow from something very small.

But as we know, mighty oaks can take many, many decades or even centuries to reach their full potential. But again as we all know, different types of trees grow to different sizes and at different rates and even then it depends upon the richness of the soil that they are in and so many other factors. 

And just with trees so it can be with businesses. Some will grow massively very quickly whilst others will forever remain small. Product and timing can be everything, but in the business world the fertiliser of inputs from the founder and management team as well as close advisers and partners can also make one business prosper much more than another. Then water with the right levels of investment or retained profit and the differences become even more distinct.

This week I was involved with many different varieties and at many levels of growth and amongst those meetings were some real seeds of wisdom. The first meeting was with the CEO and Founder of a 20 year old business with a global presence. He said that like all entrepreneurs when he founded the business he expected it to grow rapidly immediately, but in reality the idea was ahead of its time and it was not until the business had existed for ten years before real growth came. A lesson for us all I thought.

The next meeting was with a strategic investor that might well just provide the perfect fertiliser and water for a company that is already growing rapidly but are now in discussions for the magic ingredients to take them through the next stages very quickly. This could just be a case of the ‘Power of Networks’ working very quickly and proving yet again how important they can be.

Later the same day was a meeting with a new partner that can provide finance to early stage businesses. As I mentioned at the beginning, timing can be crucial in any venture and so it proved in this case. What I expected to be a good meeting turned into a very fruitful one indeed. So not only do I expect this partnership to grow well but in so doing it will help spread the word to many more businesses and so help them to grow and prosper.

This week I also attended the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards in London. From over 3,000 applicants this had been reduced to 104 companies chasing 13 separate awards. At the event itself were 300 attendees including the finalists, judges, sponsors, and other guests. This was a great networking opportunity and I spoke with many inspirational people at many different levels of growth. But for me, one thing that stood out during the ceremony was something that Cath Kidston said when being interviewed on the stage. She was asked about how she made certain decisions and her answer was “Things did well if I did them because I loved it and not so well if they were done just looking to make a profit”. This is a maxim that I certainly live by and I know that many others do also. If you do something for the right reasons or simply because it feels right it not only makes you feel better and makes the world a better place, but it is surprising how often these things become profitable in one way or another sooner or later. Karma is alive and well.

However we chose to grow, and however fast, remember two things, trees that stand alone are more vulnerable than those that are protected by partners in a forest surrounding them and every tree needs to receive the right fertilizer and to be watered to ensure that they achieve their true potential. And if we can all do some good along the way then so much the better.