The Chinese bamboo tree is remarkable because it illustrates how businesses grow organically. While most trees grow steadily over the years, this remarkable tree hardly follows the usual fashion; the Chinese bamboo tree doesn’t sprout off the ground in its first four years. Then, in the fifth year, something dramatic happens – the tree begins to grow at an astonishing rate. As a matter of fact, in a period of just five weeks after the fifth year, a Chinese bamboo tree can grow to a height of ninety feet!
The problem is not the seeds, neither is it the farmer. It is a question of persevering. I find the story of Chinese bamboo trees of the Moso species very fascinating. To plant a Chinese Bamboo tree, you prepare the ground and plant your seeds and begin to water it and wait. Water and wait. Water, weed and wait. You continue to water it for an entire year and nothing appears. No bud, no sprout, nothing. Ok, you also do a bit of weeding over the ‘empty’ land. You water and nurture a plant that should be there but you just have not seen. Other people who chose different plants tell you to be patient but you never believed it would take this long.
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By the third year, you start second guessing yourself and if you are not strong enough, you may begin to question the seed, the soil, climate, the nation, yourself, anything, everything. This is the hard part for most of us. We get caught up and excited about our big ideas that even within days of our initial investment, we simply cannot wait for it to succeed. Within days of initial conceptualisation and execution, we want success so badly we cannot afford the price of patience.
We love to join in the next big shiny object
We love other people’s stories. Once we hear about the next start-up that got funding or an app that has a gained a bit of traction, there is an influx of ‘me too’ ideas. This astonishing growth of successful businesses is enviable and stunning to people who never knew the story from the beginning. In the same way, we tend to admire and look up to established entrepreneurs, start-ups and successful businesses when they are successful but not when they are struggling with very few people except themselves and perhaps a few friends, users, and customers supporting them. This is the foundation of the widely conceived perception that companies succeed overnight. This is why the process is as critical as the outcome for the entrepreneur.
The price of patience
The bamboo trees don’t grow in the fifth year; they grew over five years, even in times when there were no sprouts seen on the land. The growers of the Chinese bamboo trees understand the need to keep the faith and to keep watering the ground.
Henry Ford had to water his bamboo tree through five business failures before he finally succeeded with the Ford Motor Company. Thomas Edison had to keep watering through failures and several inventions such that when he was buried on October 21, 1931; electric lights were dimmed for one minute throughout the United States, as a sign of respect for the man who ‘gave’ the world the incandescent bulb. Ray Kroc even in his old age, despite his failing health kept watering McDonald’s and it became America’s finest fast food restaurant. The founders of YouTube had to water again when the original idea of creating a video dating website was not coming through. Roxio continued to water for almost eight years and in the face of bankruptcy till they struck gold with their 52nd game, Angry Birds. Steve Jobs accepted to come back to water his ‘first plant’ Apple Corporation (after being fired from his own company; he eventually became a global icon of innovation)
Your idea will only guarantee five percent of your success. Creative entrepreneurs intending to build world class businesses need to know that a successful business is a delicate combination of wit and will, accompanied by so many nights of hard work, significant value, support from the right team, right market and marketing approach with a huge dose of luck. Every venture capitalist understands this and that is what they look for.
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The growers of the Chinese bamboo tree have faith that if they keep watering and fertilising the ground, the tree will break through. Well, you must have the same kind of faith in your business idea. Even when it becomes clear that the idea will fail, learn to cut your losses and move on. Whether it is to run a successful business, hit Forbes richest list, or to be featured as the next start-up story, we must have faith that if we keep improving, calling and following up on clients, learning from mentors, as long as you keep watering and working hard at your dream, it will come to fruition. It may take weeks. It may take months, some even take years, but eventually, the roots will take hold and your tree will grow. And when it does, it will grow in remarkable ways.
So keep watering and believing and before you know it, you too will be flying high. We’ve seen this happen so many times. Someday when things change, it will only favour those who are ready.
Remember, hard work will always defeat talent especially when talent doesn’t work hard.
This article was originally posted on Otekbits.com
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