“We cannot stop the winter or the summer from coming. We cannot stop the spring or the fall or make them other than they are. They are gifts from the universe that we cannot refuse. But we can choose what we will contribute to life when each arrives.”
For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, spring has officially sprung.
And while signs of life and growth are everywhere in the natural world, we may not be experiencing the same signals in our own businesses.
And that warrants asking ourselves the question, “What season of business am I in?”
Business, like life, is cyclical. And as owners, we must navigate all seasons and stages with the confidence that no matter what season we’re in, it shall soon pass into another. We may stay in certain seasons longer than others but eventually, everything will shift and move forward.
This is incredibly useful to remember, particularly when things feel stagnant or stuck. Instead of fighting against it, we can work with its rhythms knowing that there are gifts to be drawn no matter the season and that it won’t be long before it’s behind us.
Conversely, if we’re in a season of prosperity and busyness, we may feel gratitude for the success, but exhaustion at the idea of keeping it up. Knowing that another slower season is likely upon us can give us the stamina to ride out the busy season until we can once again rest and restore.
Here’s what’s important: our business seasons may not line up with the natural seasons, nor the seasons of our peers or mentors. The people around us might be reaping the harvest of fall (even if it’s only February) while we’re still nose-to-the-grindstone doing the hard work in spring. Our season of rest might take longer than our fellow business owners. If we’re creating something entirely new, we might be spending more time in spring before it begins to bloom in summer.
There is no one right speed at which this all unfolds.
We can’t force the next season, it comes when we’re ready to shift into it. And trying to rush it not only robs us of the learnings and gifts of the season we’re in, but also adds stress and uncertainty that compounds feeling stuck in the season we’re in.
If we can learn to trust in the natural order of changing seasons, we too will find ourselves with the rewards that follow.
Let’s look at all four seasons to help you better understand where you currently are, and what your business most needs right now. Remember – the seasons are a metaphor – don’t get hung up on the months of the year.
SPRING: The season of creation
Spring is about possibility and potential. It’s when we’re full of ideas, excited about the future and feel the energy to make them happen. After the slowness and rest of winter, we’re ready to jump back in with both feet and start planting seeds for new growth.
Things are starting to click and we feel a sense of clarity about our purpose. It’s time to take that focus and get into action. Spring is a season of movement and activity, putting everything in place to be able to watch it bloom in summer.
Spring is the busiest season of our business. We’re in constant go-mode, and we’re loving it. While we haven’t yet benefited from the fruits of our labour, we’ve got a profound sense of hope and confidence about what we’re creating.
What to be mindful of if you’re in the spring season:
Because spring is the season of planting new life, be sure that you’re planting the right seeds. This is where a clear, focused plan will serve you best. Yes, you’ve got energy and vitality in your favour, but if you simply throw seeds without a clear vision for what you’re planting long-term, you’ll find yourself working MUCH harder (with less payoff) this summer.
What to capitalize on if you’re in the spring season:
Spring is the season of possibility, ideas and action. You’ve got a renewed sense of energy and drive so use it well over the coming months. Consider doing a 90-day sprint where you go all in for a short burst of focused work to bring a new project to life (grab my PRO Project Plan to help you map it out). This is the time to create and make – to capitalize on the plans you’ve already mapped out. Create space to make you big ideas happen.
SUMMER: The season of growth
Business is in full bloom and finally flourishing! We are watching the small seeds of spring blossom before our eyes. Everything inside our business is growing and thriving. We’re feeling great and proud of our efforts.
And while we’ve likely slowed our pace just slightly since spring, we are still working hard to bring a number of projects closer to completion. We might not have the same verve and excitement for them, but the momentum is strong enough to encourage us to keep going.
Summer is the time to nurture and tend to our growth. If we want it to continue to thrive, we can’t let our success die on the vine by unwanted pests or rough weather.
Water. Light. Attention. Love. And a healthy deadheading session (or two) should do the job.
What to be mindful of if you’re in the summer season:
It’s hot, it’s sticky and you might just feel like riding out the summer season until the fall. But now’s the time to be watering and nurturing those seeds you so ambitiously planted back in spring.
Keep watering. Keep tending. Keep nurturing.
What to capitalize on if you’re in the summer season:
The summer season is a perfect time to tend to relationships and form new connections. People are out and about and tend to have more time to spend with each other. Get out of the house! Meet people in real life. Follow up. These connections will be your lifeblood when summer and fall turn to winter and things quiet down.
FALL: The season of harvest
We’ve made it! Fall, the season of harvest is here – a time to reap the rewards of all our hard work and focused commitment. We deserve it.
In this season, things feel as close to easy as they can get. We’re in the flow, our pipelines are full, our once back-of-a-napkin ideas are now out in the world being of service to others. Our bank account feels nicely padded. Our network is sitting up and paying close attention to what we’re up to. And we can’t wait to get up every morning to get back to work.
This is our moment to enjoy and celebrate all that we’ve created and brought to life. It can be easy to gloss over our accomplishments as we set our sights on the future, but we shouldn’t. Taking a moment (or two) to acknowledge our efforts is what will sustain us when winter comes.
What to be mindful of if you’re in the fall season:
While you are riding high this season, winter is still on its way. How can you prepare now so that you can relish in winter rather than resist it? That might be about stashing away some of those hard-earned dollars so that cash flow doesn’t become an issue. It might mean following up on the connections you made over summer so can bring in new clients and customers to your business.
What to capitalize on if you’re in the fall season:
Aside from celebrating, fall can be a great time to invest back into your business. As you enjoy the bounty you created over spring and summer, set aside a portion to allocate toward a business investment that could yield a greater return down the road. Maybe that’s hiring a coach, buying a new piece of software, hiring a new team member or taking a course to hone your skills.
WINTER: The season of rest
When winter arrives, it’s an important queue that we must make time to rest. We’ve worked hard (perhaps too hard) and now our bodies and businesses are calling for us to slow down. We might notice that this happens of our own volition – where we just literally say, “I need to rest” because we simply cannot (or wll not) keep up with the breakneck pace we’ve been keeping.
Sometimes winter feels like it’s been forced upon us.
The clients dry up (and there aren’t any in the pipeline). We launch something new only to get no bites. Our bank accounts dwindle. Our frustration (or disinterest) increases. Business might feel like a slog, where we’re just getting through each day without much joy or enthusiasm for our work.
Winter can be a particularly hard season to navigate because it runs contrary to all the expectations we set (and see only) for big growth, big paydays, and big possibilities. When we’re in winter, we might wonder if something’s wrong with us because we’re just not that motivated. We wonder if we have what it takes to keep going. We hope spring is just around the corner so we can feel the warm breeze of opportunity again.
But winter has great gifts if we open ourselves up to it, rather than try to skip over it (which never works).
Like in nature, winter is a season of restoration and reflection. It’s a time to take stock, let go of stuff no longer serving our business (and life) and finally get time to contemplate the big ideas that we don’t have time for once things sprout again. It’s a time of preparation, knowing that a busy season is just ahead.
What to be mindful of if you’re in the winter season:
You might feel anxious, impatient and have a big case of FOMO (fear of missing out). You watch others in the other more fruitful seasons and you long to be reaping the rewards. It’s natural to feel this way, but it won’t make spring come any faster (in fact it might prolong your winter season). Notice any resistance you have about where you and your business currently are. How can you embrace its current state and draw on the wisdom it provides in this quieter and more contemplative season?
What to capitalize on if you’re in the winter season:
If you’ve been through one business lifecycle, you know that the minute spring hits, it’ll feel like you’re running to catch a speeding train. So use this winter season to prepare for the craze that will soon follow. That includes making time for the 3 R’s: Reflect, Rest and Restore:
Reflect: In this quieter period, take stock of exactly where your business is at. Do an audit and determine what’s working, what’s not and where you want to take things once spring arrives.
Rest: Unless you’re the rare exception (in which case I bow to you), entrepreneurs chronically struggle with rest, self-care and renewal. We always feel there are other things we could or should be doing. Now is the season where you DO have time – so use it wisely. Sign up for an extra yoga class each week. Spend time with friends. Read the books that are piled precariously in a stack on your desk. Write. Explore. Daydream.
Restore: As you prepare for spring, how can you restore areas of your business that have not been of service to you? Can you let elements go? Can you fill some gaps by creating better workflows or systems? Can you identify any limiting beliefs that will impact your ability to move into spring?
As business owners, we all experience the four seasons. Some seem to leave as quickly as they arrived, and others hunker down for the long haul. Whatever season you’re in, trust in the wisdom it provides and embrace its rhythms and offerings. Each season offers gifts we can bring to better our business (even if it doesn’t feel like it at the moment).
Join me over on Facebook and share what season of business your business is in, and what you’ll do to capitalize on this stage. I’d love to hear.
p.s. I still have a couple of spots left in the Spring Forward coaching sale. If you’d love to plant some seeds with the help of a business & leadership coach (without the long-term commitment), check it out here.