Principles of Stewardship Derived from Creation

The following is a set of business principles that take their inspiration from nature. In these principles, you will see strategies that work in nature, and how to translate them into successful business methods. There are many practical lessons that can be derived from seeds, soil, climate, farmers, trees, fruit, weeds, and pests. Likewise, good business stewardship can be seen as a wise farmer that understands how to cultivate a tree so that it produces an abundance of fruit.

Derived from CreationApplied to Business
SEEDSBUSINESS IDEAS
SOIL AND FIELDMARKETPLACE AND LOCATION
WATERFINANCES, ASSETS AND RESOURCES
CLIMATEBUSINESS ENVIRONMENT
SEASONS, WEATHER, STORMSCHANGING CIRCUMSTANCES
SUNSHINEBUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES
NUTRIENTS AND FERTILIZERSTRATEGIC PLANNING
PLANTING, CULTIVATING, PRUNINGOPERATIONS
ROOTS, TRUNK, BARK, BRANCHES, LEAVESORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE
WORKERS AND HIRED HANDSHUMAN RESOURCES
SOWERS AND REAPERSSALES AND CUSTOMER SERVICE
FLOWERS, FRUIT AND CROP YIELDPROFITABILITY
SEEDING, GROWING, RIPENING, AND HARVESTINGPRODUCT DEVELOPMENT CYCLE
DISEASE, WEEDS AND PESTSEXTERNAL THREATS
BEES AND ORCHARDSSCALING UP
ECOSYSTEMBUSINESS COMMUNITY

SEEDS = BUSINESS IDEAS

CreationApplied to Business
A seed contains everything necessary to produce a tree and all its fruit. All you need to start, is a healthy good seed.

 

PRINCIPLE #1: Every entrepreneur has seeds of creativity that are essential to start their new business. Examples are:

  • Creative Thoughts
  • New Business Ideas
  • Innovation and Invention
  • Intellectual Property
  • Business Vision/Mission
  • Product or Service Ideas
  • Skills, Abilities, Talents
  • Dreams, Hopes, Purpose, Destiny
What seeds are you planting?

PRINCIPLE #2: Good fruit starts with planting good seeds. Likewise, a good business idea will sustain a business for many years.

  • Good seeds produce fruit that is healthy and brings sustainability to the entrepreneur, their family, and their community.
  • A good business is a blessing to everyone who is involved in it.
Good or Bad seeds?

PRINCIPLE #3: Bad fruit comes from planting bad seeds. In the same way, a business idea that takes advantage of people’s weaknesses or flaws will face many obstacles.

  • Bad seeds produce fruit that harms or damages the entrepreneur, their family and their community.
  • A bad business will find itself in conflict with its community, because it is not welcome.

SOIL & FIELD = MARKETPLACE & LOCATION

CreationApplied to Business
Trees will be helped or damaged by the soil that they are planted in.

PRINCIPLE #4: Businesses are located in a specific marketplace, just like trees are planted in a particular ground. So, entrepreneurs must choose where it is best to plant their business:

  • Customers who want and can afford its products.
  • Sufficient raw materials, inventory, and skilled workers to produce the products.
A field must be prepared from the soil.

PRINCIPLE #5: Soil is turned into a field when the farmer shapes and prepares the soil properly. No entrepreneur should expect to start a business without first getting things organized.

  • The difference between raw land and a field is proper organization. That means any business must first get organized before anything is planted in the ground.
  • To properly organize a business, constant planning is required. This is just like how a farmer plans what crops to grow, where to plant them and when to put out the seeds.
Poor soil requires extra work

PRINCIPLE #6: Some businesses are planted in very poor soil. That may be because the farmer and his family live in a certain location, and they can’t move. In the same way, entrepreneurs start their business under the limitations imposed by their surrounding community.

  • The entrepreneur may have to enrich the soil first, before it will produce fruit. This means greater up-front investment and time.
  • Alternatively, the entrepreneur may have to limit their business ideas to only the most hearty, vital and survivable seeds.
Rich soil is a blessing

PRINCIPLE #7: Some businesses are planted in very rich soil. Plenty of resources and a diverse marketplace are a great advantage to starting any business. However, it doesn’t mean that their won’t be challenges.

  • Good soil may allow a business to grow rapidly, but weeds and pests can still prevent a plentiful harvest.
  • A wise gardener must learn how to manage business competition and other threats.

WATER = FINANCES, ASSETS & RESOURCES

CreationApplied to Business
Farmers are always concerned about how to water and fertilize their crops.

PRINCIPLE #8: Money and resources are critical to sustain any business, and entrepreneurs must have a plan to obtain them in sufficient amounts to operate their business. This includes:

  • Necessary finances to start-up
  • Income generated from on-going operations
  • Resources required to operate and grow
  • Tools, facilities and equipment
  • Technology (hardware and software)
Too much water is a problem !!!

PRINCIPLE #9: Too much water at one time is usually wasted and can be very harmful.

  • A lot of money can cause an entrepreneur and staff to be over-confident, lazy or not watchful.
  • An abundance of resources never lasts forever. This means that an entrepreneur must invest wisely when times are good, so that when resources are scarce, there is still a way to survive.
Farmers know they must plant crops that survive in case of a drought.

PRINCIPLE #10: Entrepreneurs know that they have to operate their business under a budget.

  • Less money and resources can lead a business to be more creative….. “necessity is the mother of invention”.
  • Businesses that can succeed with a little, are stronger and healthier than businesses that “have it easy”.

CLIMATE = BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT

CreationApplied to Business
Farmers must pick the crops that will grow best in their climate.

PRINCIPLE #11: Business climate is the general economic condition in which businesses operate. Entrepreneurs must know their climate very well, in order to succeed.

  • There are several factors that determine the business climate: political, economic, social and demographic, technological, and legal. Together, these define the overall conditions that a business must contend with.
  • A business that operates in a difficult climate must choose their crops carefully, as well as provide plenty of finances and resources to overcome the harsh conditions.

SEASONS, WEATHER, STORMS = CHANGING CIRCUMSTANCES

CreationApplied to Business
Seasons change over the course of weeks and months. Farmers adjust their activities and plans based upon the season.

PRINCIPLE #12: Entrepreneurs must know what season it is, and then respond appropriately.

  • Winter is when it’s hard for anything to grow. Businesses sell only a minimal amount of products. Customers don’t have the money to buy things. It’s a difficult time of year. Businesses measure success by simply surviving.
  • Spring is when it’s time to plant and grow. Businesses must have a lot of products to sell, and be ready to provide enough services to their customers. There is money to be made, but only if you’re prepared for the season of new growth.
  • Summer is when things heat up and the competition is fierce. Businesses must be willing to adjust their prices, cut their costs and still remain profitable. Every product must earn a profit and all trees must be pruned.
  • Fall is when the harvest begins. As the fruit ripens, business profits reach their maximum. If the entrepreneur has managed wisely, profits will come to themselves, their families and their community.
Weather is what changes day-to-day or week-to-week. Farmers get good at watching the skies to see what’s on the horizon.

PRINCIPLE #13: Entrepreneurs know that they can wake-up to new challenges and threats everyday. Entrepreneurs learn to see the market conditions change and fluctuate.

  • Entrepreneurs must be highly adaptable. They can’t be good at one thing and hope for the best. They have to learn to be lifelong learners.
  • Good businesses are flexible. That means business plans should be re-written when needed, and employees must be ready to change their focus when asked.
Storms are not predictable and can be very dangerous. A farmer can’t stop the storm, but they can setup a protected shelter that will safeguard their family.

PRINCIPLE #14: Entrepreneurs can lose their business and start over, but their family must always be taken care of.

  • When it comes to priorities, the entrepreneur puts their family first, and their business second. That means knowing when to be humbled by the storms of life, and accepting a temporary defeat.
  • An entrepreneur can come back from a year without profit. But, losing the entire business is a completely different challenge. A wise entrepreneur always finds a way to survive the loss from a single business catastrophe.

SUNSHINE = BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES

CreationApplied to Business
The most critical source of energy for plants and trees comes from the sun. And we know that no fruit is produced in darkness.

PRINCIPLE #15: Businesses need the “sunshine” of opportunity to thrive and grow.

  • Having the right product, at the right time, for the right price, for the right customers is sometimes a combination of “favorable” accidents. Entrepreneurs must be aware if they have stumbled upon such a benevolent situation.
  • Starting a successful business isn’t always about commitment, hard work or even financing. There are often factors that make or break a new business that are simply beyond the control of the entrepreneur. It’s important to recognize when this kind of situation is happening.
IS THE SUN SHINING WHERE YOU ARE AT?

PRINCIPLE #16: Entrepreneurs must find out whether their business idea has a legitimate chance for success.

  • There are thousands of stories where an entrepreneur has a great product idea, but the timing just isn’t right. Sometimes it’s too early to introduce a product, because people aren’t ready to accept it yet.
  • To make a great product, or provide a wonderful service is only part of the problem that entrepreneurs must face. They must know that they can make a profit. Otherwise, they will end up in a worse financial condition than when they started.
To start and grow a healthy, productive crop takes lots of time.

PRINCIPLE #17: There’s no substitute for patience when starting a new business. The right business idea implemented at the wrong time will often fail.

  • Entrepreneurs must be willing to take the time to assemble all the right pieces of their business. That includes hiring the right people, producing a high-quality product, managing money wisely, and a thousands other details. There is no short-cut to sustainable growth and long-term success in business.
  • It’s critical to manage expectations and not let emotions dictate business decisions. A good entrepreneur will give themselves enough time to get it right.

NUTRIENTS & FERTILIZER = STRATEGIC PLANNING

CreationApplied to Business
By paying close attention, farmers learn from both good and bad circumstances.

PRINCIPLE #18: Successful entrepreneurs must learn as much from their failures as their successes.

  • It’s rare when someone’s first product has perfect quality, price, and features. Often, entrepreneurs have to learn from their mistakes and make several improvements before they reach success.
  • In order to make business adjustments, the entrepreneur must be a careful observer and listener.
Wise farmers share information with each other.

PRINCIPLE #19: Wise entrepreneurs give and take good advice.

  • It’s critical to be humble and listen when a customer or a fellow entrepreneur gives you feedback on how you’re business is doing. Taking criticism is a tough skill to develop, but it saves a lot of heartache down the road.
  • Having an expectation that your business can always improve and do better, is an attitude that every entrepreneur should adopt.
  • Being open minded to new ways to doing things is a strength.

PLANTING, CULTIVATING, PRUNING = OPERATIONS

CreationApplied to Business
Seeds can’t produce fruit unless they are planted.

PRINCIPLE #20: A business idea that is never launched is not a business at all.

  • To start a business, an entrepreneur must decide to take a risk
  • To grow a business, an entrepreneur must be willing to make sacrifices and invest their precious resources.
It takes constant work to maintain a healthy farm.

PRINCIPLE #21: Entrepreneurs are not afraid of hard work.

  • Entrepreneurs work long and hard to build their business, because the reward for a successful business may be months or even years in the future.
  • Working at a business you own is a thankless job. Nobody tells you to get up early or stay late. Vacations are a luxury, and no one appreciates how hard you work, unless they watch you everyday.
Things that are alive, are always growing. Things that are dead, have stopped growing.

PRINCIPLE #22: Entrepreneurs know how to prioritize and focus their attention, by cutting off the projects that are failing.

  • Not every branch will produce fruit, and not every business idea is a good one. Entrepreneurs know how to make the tough choices and stop doing the unproductive activities and focus on the high-value ones.
  • No business has an unlimited amount of resources. So, the entrepreneur must pick and choose where to put his time, money and talent.

ROOTS, TRUNK, BARK, BRANCHES, LEAVES = ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE

CreationApplied to Business
The roots are what anchors the tree to the soil and delivers life-giving nutrients to the tree.

PRINCIPLE #23: The roots of a business are Sales and Marketing. Those functions interact directly with the surrounding community and with customers.

  • Without a relationship with your customers, you don’t have a business. Without roots, a tree is just a stick buried in the ground.
  • Shallow roots means a business has a limited number of customers or an unsubstantial relationship with them. Deep roots means a business has a lot of healthy and positive relationships with their customers.
  • Entrepreneurs must sink their roots deeply into the market they serve. A broad and diverse approach to reaching customers will provide a stable basis for all other aspects of business development.
The trunk is the strongest and most durable part of a tree, and everything else attaches to the trunk.

PRINCIPLE #24: In business, executive leadership (the people who set the standard for ethics, mission and vision) is the trunk.

  • Everything about a tree can be re-grown (roots, branches, leaves, fruit) except the trunk. An entrepreneur can change products, pursue different customers, relocate to a new place, and even graft in new branches of business. But, attacking the ethics, mission or vision will destroy everything that has been built.
  • Leadership is what makes a business tall and strong or small and weak.
Tree bark is the protective layer that keeps out pests and disease.

PRINCIPLE #25: To protect and safeguard the company, a business needs to have lawyers and accountants.

  • When a business is making profits, others will take notice and sometimes try to take them away.
  • To prevent the company from falling into financial ruin or collapse, a good accounting manager is needed.
  • Unfortunately, having access to a lawyer is a necessary part of prudent business practices.
The branches are the tree’s plumbing and structure that produces the fruit.

PRINCIPLE #26: The administration and operations of a business are what deliver the products and services to the customer.

  • The sales and marketing part of a business can promise anything to the customer, but it’s the business operations that fulfills those promises.
  • If a branch breaks off and is no longer connected to the trunk, it won’t produce fruit. Business operations that are not connected to the leadership of the company can’t deliver what the customer wants.
The leaves convert air, sunshine, water, and nutrients into fruit.

PRINCIPLE #27: The employees who make products and deliver services convert the company’s resources into something that the customer wants to buy.

  • The employees of a business are what most people see, just like the leaves of a tree are what most people see from far away.
  • Without leaves, a tree can’t live, and a business without productive employees can’t operate.

WORKERS & HIRED HANDS = HUMAN RESOURCES

CreationApplied to Business
The farmer is the role-model for his workers.

PRINCIPLE #28: A business is so much a reflection of the entrepreneur who is in control of it.

  • An entrepreneur passes on their habits, integrity, priorities, ethics, professional standards, experience to their business.
  • When an entrepreneur removes themselves from accountability, they risk corrupting their business.
  • A wise entrepreneur seeks many counselors, both inside and outside their business, to ensure that the best decisions are made and the highest ethics are maintained.
The farmer is responsible for either the success or the failure of the crop.

PRINCIPLE #29: Lots of managers can run a business that is already profitable, but it takes a gifted entrepreneur to make a success out of a mess.

  • An entrepreneur can destroy a business or rescue it, all by themselves.
  • The strengths and leadership of a wise entrepreneur can overcome any business weaknesses or vulnerabilities.
  • A great entrepreneur can turn the most under-performing business into a healthy and prosperous one.
Trees that have a lot of dead branches, or spoiled fruit is a reflection of a careless or inexperienced farmer.

PRINCIPLE #30: A business that has unproductive employees, that wastes its resources or that is unresponsive to its customers, is a reflection of the entrepreneur.

  • An entrepreneur should be learning because the world around them is in constant change.
  • An entrepreneur should be questioning because it’s foolish to assume nothing bad is going to happen.
  • An entrepreneur should be unsatisfied with yesterday’s accomplishments since it’s easy to be lazy, complacent, and proud.
When a farm expands, the farmer will need workers to help manage it.

PRINCIPLE #31: Once a business grows beyond what one person can handle, the entrepreneur must hire good employees, choose proper vendors and develop healthy partnerships.

  • Entrepreneurs need to learn that they can’t do everything themselves. To continue to grow their business, they must transform into a manager, a leader, a coach, and a mentor.
  • Successful entrepreneurs quickly realize that being a good people manager is more important than being a gifted inventor, being a persuasive salesman or being rich.
Workers follow the example set by the farmer.

PRINCIPLE #32: Entrepreneurs lead their employees by motivating, inspiring and influencing them in positive ways.

  • Entrepreneurs keep their employees informed about the health and status of the business. This builds teamwork and a shared responsibility for the company’s success.
  • Employees who see the owner being unselfish will be motivated to make their own sacrifices.
  • Entrepreneurs can raise the productivity of their employees simply by being grateful, humble, kind, and caring to them.
It takes a lot of workers to bring in the harvest.

PRINCIPLE #33: People are the greatest asset of any business.

  • Assessing the skills and abilities of everyone in their business is a valuable process for entrepreneurs.
  • A wise entrepreneur can see the potential in every employee, and look for ways to help each person reach their highest possibility of achievement.
  • It’s always smart to put people to work in positions that fit their natural skills and abilities.
  • Some people are good at one thing, and others are skilled at something else. No one is value-less.
Every farm has workers, and workers are worth their wages.

PRINCIPLE #34: Entrepreneurs know how to use money to sustain and reward their employees.

  • Entrepreneurs must be keenly aware of what a living wage is for people living in their local community. This is the benchmark for the minimum pay scales for all employees.
  • Money is a poor substitute for a “thank-you” or a heartfelt appreciation, but words alone are not always enough to prove how valuable people are to a business. Bonuses and financial incentives are wonderful tools in the hands of good managers.

SOWERS & REAPERS = SALES & CUSTOMER SERVICE

CreationApplied to Business
Farmers know to sow only the seeds that will produce a crop that can be successfully sold.

PRINCIPLE #35: Sowers on a farm are like salespeople in a business, they plant the seeds that will become a great harvest.

  • Entrepreneurs should invest only in the products and services that customers want to buy.
  • Sowers plant the seeds they are given. And, salespeople can only sell the products they are given. It’s not their fault if the customer doesn’t want the product.
  • Salespeople provide critical information to the entrepreneur on what customers want and where their preferences may be going.
  • Prices are constantly changing in business, and salespeople can help guide the entrepreneur in setting those prices in order to maintain a profitable margin.
  • Wise entrepreneurs know that salespeople are their best eyes and ears with the customer.
Farmers know that a year of effort to plant, water, fertilize, cultivate, ripen, and harvest is wasted if the customer receives a product that is damaged or poor quality.

PRINCIPLE #36: Reapers on a farm are like customer service in a business, they make sure the customer is happy.

  • Entrepreneurs should know that the only thing that matters is customer satisfaction.
  • Reapers pick the fruit they are given. And, customer service can only give the customer what the business has produced. It’s not their fault if the customer believes that they haven’t received what was promised to them.
  • Reapers provide the last contact with customers, and so have a significant influence on customer satisfaction.
  • Wise entrepreneurs know that good customer service makes it much easier to attract follow-on sales.

FLOWERS, FRUIT & CROP YIELD = PROFITABILITY

CreationApplied to Business
Flowers are where the tree transforms resources into a finished product. It’s what flowers do every day.

PRINCIPLE #37: Every business must be able to buy a raw material, product or service; then add some value to it and sell it for more than it costs. That process is what turns a profit.

  • In a Manufacturing business, the productive conversion of raw materials into a finished product is where the profits are made.
  • In a Service business, the value-added skills and intelligence that are at work for the customer is where the profits are made.
  • In a Wholesale/Retail business, the quick and convenient access to products is where the profits are made.
After all the hard work, after all the investment in seeds, equipment, wages, water and fertilizer, the fruit is the reward.

PRINCIPLE #38: The way you measure the success of a farm, or a farmer is by the fruit. In the same way, you measure a business, or an entrepreneur by the profits.

  • A business must be sustainable, or it eventually goes out of business. A farm that loses money every year won’t survive for long. So, the entrepreneur must track the expenses and income, so they know whether there is going to be a profit.
  • Fruit can serve two purposes: 1) in can be sold for a profit, 2) it can be used as seeds for the next year. The entrepreneur needs to know when to re-invest profits.
  • Fruit is a benefit to the farmer, their family, the community and to the world. And so, a business can be a blessing to the entrepreneur, their family, community and the world.
A farmer calculates “crop yield” by dividing the amount of resources sold (fruit from the harvest) by the cost of the resources used to make it (land, labor, water, fertilizer, etc.)

PRINCIPLE #39: A wise farmer knows whether their farm is returning more than it is costing. In the same way, a wise business owner knows their “break-even” point.

  • In business, every product/service that is sold has a cost. And, the selling price must be larger than the total cost to produce it. Every wise entrepreneur can prove whether they are above or below that “break-even point”.
  • A healthy, well-run business requires good record-keeping and proper accounting. There is no way of knowing whether you are sustainable in business without accurate financial records.

SEEDING, GROWING, RIPENING, & HARVESTING = PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT CYCLE

CreationApplied to Business
Farmers get ready to plant by preparing the soil, buying seed, and planning their activities.

PRINCIPLE #40: Entrepreneurs make plans for the future and forecast what investments to make in order to grow their business.

  • When, what, why, and how much business investments should be made are all part of good business planning.
  • Over-building is just as foolish as under-building.
When you plant a seed, it may be a while before it pops out of the ground.

PRINCIPLE #41: Entrepreneurs manage their business carefully, even when they are still waiting for a financial breakthrough.

  • It may not be exciting, but steady growth in production and delivery is one of the best signs of a healthy business.
  • A wise entrepreneur knows the right time to focus on their current market and when to expand into new markets.
Farmers watch their fruit ripen in order to assess its quality.

PRINCIPLE #42: Entrepreneurs are constantly measuring the quality of their products and services.

  • Measuring the quality of your product/service is a prime responsibility of the business owner.
  • Maintaining product quality is a high-priority of a profitable business.
  • Improving product quality is what will keep a company ahead of its competition.
Everyone on the farm works doubly hard during harvest time, so no fruit is wasted or left behind.

PRINCIPLE #43: Every entrepreneur has planned for the breakthrough of their business.

  • There are times when employees will be asked to work “above and beyond” what is normal. That means it’s important to communicate to everyone in the business when and why the company needs their extra efforts.
  • Appreciating the hard work of their employees is something an entrepreneur knows will boost the success of the business in the future.

DISEASE, WEEDS & PESTS = EXTERNAL THREATS

CreationApplied to Business
Trees can suffer from leaf spot, leaf blotch, scab, defoliation, needle cast, stem canker, and root rot.

PRINCIPLE #44: Businesses can suffer from an economic slowdown, negative customer reviews about a product, delayed deliveries from a vendor, increasing raw material prices, and many other issues.

  • Some threats to the health of a business are caused by internal weakness within the company.
  • Other threats affect lots of other local businesses.
  • No matter what the source is, threats to a business must be handled and not ignored. Otherwise, the life of a business can be put in jeopardy.
Weeds compete for the same water and resources that the tree needs.

PRINCIPLE #45: Entrepreneurs must watch what the competition is doing and see how they are succeeding or failing.

  • Competitors try to take away customers and tap into scarce resources.
  • Businesses must always be vigilant to keep competitors from gaining a strong position in the marketplace.
Pests are a direct attack on the life and health of a tree’s leaves or fruit.

PRINCIPLE #46: Businesses can lose market share because of new technology, changes in government laws, or competition from other industries.

  • Success can breed complacency, so entrepreneurs must be watchful for unexpected changes that cause their business strategy to be ineffective.
  • It’s good to review product strategies and business plans to make sure they are keeping up with future developments in the industry.

BEES & ORCHARDS = SCALING UP

CreationApplied to Business
Bees pollinate the tree so it produces fruit. The tree will grow without the bees, but without them, flowers won’t be able to make fruit.

PRINCIPLE #47: Businesses require the assistance of banks, delivery services, marketing organizations, and other support companies in order to make a profit.

  • No business can do every function by themselves. They need services provided by other companies in order to be efficient and competitive.
  • Learning how to work with partners is a necessity for a business that expects to thrive.
Managing an orchard is much different and much harder than tending a single tree.

PRINCIPLE #48: A start-up entrepreneur might be successful on a small scale, but it takes a set of different skills to produce multiple products, or operate in different locations, or serve a variety of customers.

  • If a business is going to grow 10 or 100 times bigger, the entrepreneur must grow in their skills in order to keep up.
  • Often it takes different managers and employees with different experience levels in order to grow a company to the next major size in revenue.

ECOSYSTEM = BUSINESS COMMUNITY

CreationApplied to Business
A farm can grow more and faster because it is located in a dynamic environment.

PRINCIPLE #49: More business opportunities arise in an environment where innovation is advancing across many industries.

  • Entrepreneurs can benefit from advances in unrelated businesses as well as cost reductions from suppliers.
  • It’s a big advantage to start a business where creativity is strongly encouraged and investment money is easier to access.