In a recent conversation with my wife about spring and flowers, I learned I really don’t have a “green thumb” let alone green in ANY of my bones. She respects that, believe me. During this conversation about gardening, I realized that in the course of our conversation, there were some potential metaphors and similarities between gardening and business.

One of the main points I gleaned (pun intended) was that it was important for the caretakers of the flower beds or edible plants to thin out ‘overcrowding’, remove weeds and especially eliminate ‘suckers.’ My wife said “that you have to cut off the suckers”. I replied, “What does that mean”? She patiently responded telling me that root suckers are vigorous vertical stems that ruin a tree’s appearance. They also compete with and eventually overgrow the tree trunks.

The Wanna-bes

In the same manner, customers and clients who are wanna-bes, take up all your time and energy. They can potentially vigorously ruin your business by ruining your reputation, your public appearance as it were. Their demands compete with and suck away your favourable efforts from the profitable accounts that you are trying to nurture; clients that will grow your business and enhance your reputation. I’m sure, like myself, we have all got pulled into business that ended up competing with our first-rate clients, revenues and profits. I believe the hardest part of cutting off the suckers is the fear of letting go of potential business and profits. So in practical terms, how do we identify the suckers and how do we know when to chop them off?

What to do?

To identify those wannabe accounts that suck us dry, these can be identified as the ones that usually are who make the most, many times unreasonable demands, consume much of our valuable time and our energy. There are two ways that I have learned to break off these suckers and gain growth with our gratifying accounts and clients. The toughest way (but the fastest) is to have the ‘heart to heart’ discussion with them disclosing to them that the business relationship is not working out and that they might have better growth potential elsewhere (effectively firing them). If conversational confrontation is not your plant of choice, then a more passive way is to gently weed out the customer by suggesting better alternatives elsewhere or considering a do-it yourself solution.

Do you have any wanna-be customers or clients that are taking your energy, time and money? Perhaps it time to “snap of the suckers” and allow your garden to flourish with the healthy blooms of the season and promote better growth of the annuals. Let your genuine customers and clients mature in good health and weed out the “wanna-bes” to improve your business growth. So from a green thumb to the rule of thumb, the principles of gardening really do apply here. In other words, cut off the sucker before the sucker sucks the life out of your business.