“For whatever you sow, that will you reap” (Galatians 6:7-8)
“According to the seed that’s sown, so is the fruit you reap there from” (Samyutta Nikaya)
The saying ‘reaping what you sow’ may sounds so cliched or even biblical that many of us think no more of it than a motivational figure of speech – to be said and then forgotten. Almost all religions teach us the law of cause and effect. Some call it karma. I call it the irrefutable law of returns.
Whether you believe it from a religious point of view, or simpy out of experience, or even if you are a sworn non-believer – the concept of reaping what you sow is an important one in business.
This is evident in our relationship with our customers. Even in today’s neck breaking speed of business, and a new bottoms-up marketing paradigm, investing in the customer remains important – perhaps more so than ever. While the customer experience has taken a new perspective in the internet age – one thing remain constant – good customer service and consistently meeting and exceeding your customers’ expectations means more business for you.
The same is true in our relationship with our vendors and suppliers. In time of crisis, you may sometimes thank your foresight in treating your vendors fairly, as they may prove most useful in keeping your business afloat. I have seen many entrepreneurs who skimp on their suppliers, only to find that goods delivered tend to be of second grade, and less timely than otherwise expected. Of course, if you find yourself in that situation, you will want to be looking for a new supplier – but if you had considered paying them a fair price, and setting the right standards, then perhaps you wouldn’t have to go through the process of re-building that relationship.
Even more importantly is to invest in our empoyees. Which reminds me of the oft-quoted corporate dilemna: what if we train our employees and they leave? The answer is obvious to most of us – yet many of us are wary of investing in our people for fear of losing them. It’s the basic entrepreneurial tenet – never invest in things that you will lose. However, consider the alternative: what is the cost of having poorly trained employees serving our customers? Or worse – slowing down our entire operations?
The necessary investment is not just in training and salary, but also our time and patience. As Sir Richard Branson famously says: train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to. The rule of reaping what you sow is more evident when it comes to investing in employees than they are in any other form.
If you find yourself caught in a typical business ‘mid-life crisis’, i.e. when your business could neither grow nor shrink – you will realise the importance of sowing heavily now, so that you can reap and reap.
It is equally important to understand and have faith in this irrefutable law of returns in time of crisis. Crisis indeed do come and go. But the goodwill earned, friendship made and loyalty gained, lasts a lifetime.