Helpful Metaphors

Today, I came across two helpful metaphors for entrepreneurship as I was reading Susan Steinbrecher’s new book, Kensho: A Modern Awakening. This is another book I’d highly recommend, particularly if you are interested in the triple bottom line and CSR as it relates to the world and specifically to entrepreneurship. Enough with the book recommendations, though. On with the metaphors:

Steinbrecher describes the process of business building as a growing flower. A business, like a flower, starts with a seed. A good idea. The seed/business then begins to push through the surface of the soil (AKA obstacles), and begins to grow. While the plant continues to grow, blossom, and bloom; the business is in its expansion stage, but this expansion cannot continue forever. The blossoms begin to fall off the plant dropping seeds as they go. This can represent your business’ decline or redefinition. If you don’t choose to replant the seeds that fall, your business will fall into oblivion. If you replant those seeds with new ideas or in new markets, you begin the process all over again.

The second metaphor created by Mike Michalowicz (written in Kensho). He refers to the stages of entrepreneurship as different emotions. The first emotion if fear. As you start a business, you jump over a cliff into the unknown. At this point, most entrepreneurs are driven by some sort of fear – fear of making a wrong decision, fear of losing an investment, etc. Once you get past this phase, typically as the business begins to grow, you’re driven by enthusiasm and fun, experiencing growth and bringing in new employees. When growth slows, you reach maturity. This stage is defined by confidence. You have learned the ropes and you know where you’re headed. This is where the situation is dangerous. If you maintain this confidence as your business heads toward decline, you’ve assured failure; but if you can translate your confidence back into fear as the business begins to decline, you can succeed.


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