It’s that time of summer when everywhere you turn there is zucchini. As an avid gardener silly enough to plant not one but two zucchini plants, I cannot escape. After several weeks of full-on zucchini mode, I am wearing out. But, as I have a propensity to do, I see business and life lessons hidden everywhere, yes, even inside zucchini.
So, here’s what I’ve learned and want to pass along to you.
Plan for It
In Pennsylvania, zucchini is a hardy vegetable. I cannot ever remember a summer where the crop was challenged. You know it is coming, so don’t act surprised when zucchini shows up in everything from breakfast to side-dishes to dessert.
Business lesson: You know there are times when you are either going to be over-busy or super slow. You know there are certain things you need to do as a business owner to have longevity (taxes come to mind). Plan for it, don’t delay, and don’t whine about it; you knew it was coming. Make good use of whatever shows up.
Until a few years ago I never imagined the sheer number of ways you can do something unexpected and yummy with zucchini. Sure, I knew about zucchini bread and sautéed zucchini, but flourless zucchini brownies? Zucchini turkey burgers? Dehydrated, raw zucchini “fries”? Who knew? So now I mine the Internet for creative, yummy ways to utilize this giant stash and also freely give some away.
Business lesson: If you have too much or too little of something (time, clients, money, knowledge), get creative. If you find yourself stuck, look beyond the usual tried and true ideas to find a path forward. There is always a solution to whatever challenge lies before you.
When your dining room table is stacked high with squash of many colors, it can be easy to wish it away or let it sit there until it spoils. Every time I pick more I am looking to ways to use it. Even if I have to shred and freeze it, bake more goodies to freeze for later, or give it away to every friend and neighbor I see, I don’t want it to go to waste. One common saying I do think holds true is – waste not, want not.
Business lesson: Prepare and create systems for peaks and valleys. Don’t get sloppy when you have an abundance of wealth happening. That means, don’t take your current clients for granted, don’t spend every dime you make in the good months, and don’t use busyness as an excuse not to create habits, systems, checklists, and behaviors that will make your business better going forward.
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This Too Shall Pass
While it is hard to imagine life without zucchini from a July point of view, sooner or later the harvest stops. Some time in August, the over-grown pre-historic beasts of a vegetable plant collapse in on themselves in exhaustion. Then it is zucchini no more (at least from the garden and local farmer’s markets). So, don’t get too attached to your zucchini fix. Turn your attention to tomatoes, peaches, apples, or whatever is the next in-season crop.
Business lesson: Whatever you are experiencing – good or bad – this too shall pass. It’s important to keep perspective on the impermanence of things. Business owners who saved during the boom times and reinvented themselves during the recession are those that continue to thrive. This is not being negative; it is about honoring the rhythm of things.
After the Zucchini…
There is always something “next”. So when the zucchini is done, the corn or tomatoes try to take over your counters and menus. When you learn to identify and honor the rhythms and natural order of things, everything becomes easier. So cut yourself some slack, treat your business like the organic entity it is, and go eat a zucchini muffin!