I’ve been writing articles for the online business community, Flying Solo, for a couple of years now. This article on my organic approach to business is one of my favourites from last year.
As a soloist, I’ve struggled to find the right amount of structure to keep my business fresh, enjoyable and with a healthy cash flow. I have discovered over time that the organic business approach works best for me.
I’ll give anything a go to see if it works and consequently, I’ve tried many of the gurus’ business models.
I implemented the seven habits and became somewhat effective. I spent a lot of time thinking but didn’t really grow rich. And, I rejected the myth of the entrepreneur by working on my business only to realise what I most enjoy is working in my business. So how come this expert advice hasn’t worked for me?
Other people’s programs don’t work because I’m not actually listening to the real expert in my business: me. That’s where organic business comes in.
Your organic business approach
By organic business, I don’t mean growing veggies under my desk. It’s about drawing inspiration and insight from my own natural systems and rhythms as well as those around me, and creating business structures and practices that are in sync with these.
It’s about being responsive to what’s happening now, aware of the infinite possibilities, and mindful of what has worked and not worked in the past. It’s about listening to the earth, the community and myself, trusting my intuition and making decisions based on the really big picture (see my previous articles on creating a sustainable business).
An organic business approach is not without structure. It’s just a natural, adaptive structure with minimal constraints. It involves redefining success as being able to learn from each step you take towards your goals.
It’s also based on the fact that we cannot fully imagine the future. We can plan, but we can’t take all of the complexity into account. The beauty of keeping our goals or visions fuzzy is that more often than not the future will actually be better than we imagined.
As with nature, I’ve found there are cycles in business that I can either work with and flourish, or doggedly work against and be continually frustrated. While it’s sometimes difficult to accept the fallow periods when they’re happening, I’ve always found that they are essential for creativity and innovation.
For me, the busy-ness has to stop so fresh ideas and approaches can emerge. Following the seasons, along with my natural energy levels, is more effective than mindlessly churning out a nine to five day. I work earlier in the summer, later in winter, get plenty of siesta time in the hotter months, and when it’s right, I work a four hour day.
And when I work, I might go from a complex task to something that’s a no-brainer or something that makes the neurons fire a little faster. Rather than being a distraction, I find that mixing it up keeps it fresh.
Allowing the path of least resistance
One of the most valuable questions I have ever been asked is “Who are your people?” That question made it clear to me that marketing isn’t about persuading strangers to buy, but about letting those who know and trust me hook me up with people who need my services. For me, taking an organic approach is about allowing these pre-existing paths – or the path of least resistance – to help me get where I want to go. So I use my natural networks to create business, and my values, interests and strengths guide my business direction.
Find freedom and your edge with flexibility
Like many soloists, I want flexibility and freedom. Going organic allows this. By developing a strong core of who I am and what I do well, I can bend like the reed in my rapidly changing environment. I can gain my edge by responding and adapting to changing technology, markets and cultural shifts. And by being open to multiple income sources or ways of working – whether it’s as a soloist, an employee or a contractor – I’m not putting all my eggs in one wobbly basket.
Goodbye hierarchies, hello connections
Our businesses are naturally non-hierarchical – except for those of us with multiple personalities – and ideally suited to an organic approach. We can communicate directly with our customers and suppliers, and build the trust and rapport that leads to natural marketing through word of mouth and referrals.
My organic business approach helps me because it’s based on how I work best. I know that there is no ‘one right way’ to do business – just ways that suck the life out of me by creating doubt and despair, or ways that remind me why I’m doing this in the first place.
I don’t know about you, but I prefer the latter.
This article first appeared in the online community for solo business owners www.flyingsolo.com.au