I've been gardening since I was a teenager. But even with those years of experience under my belt, my garden still surprises me. Things don't grow the way I planned or hoped they would, rogue volunteer plants show up and start growing like, well, weeds, and even the most carefully tended plants go belly-up for some unknown reason.

Carey'sGarden
Here's a section of my garden at home. I've found that gardening and running a business have a lot in common.
Here's a section of my garden at home. I've found that gardening and running a business have a lot in common.

Swap out "plants" for "employees" or "projects," and you've got a pretty good idea of what heading up a business can be like. Your best ideas can fall flat, new people and new departments don't work out, and totally unexpected things happen and throw a wrench in your perfectly-functioning business. On the other hand, sometimes the straggler can turn into a star if given some nurturing and room to grow.

Keep it flexible

Whether it's plants or people, you're dealing with living things that tend to have minds of their own, so stay flexible. You may think something's going to turn out one way, but that doesn't mean it will.

Just because something isn't exactly where you want it doesn't mean you have to yank it, either. Plants can be dug up and relocated if you think they'd do better in a different location. Good employees can be moved to a different department if you think they'd excel there--don't be afraid to let them move around!

We do that here at Big Ass Fans, and it helps prevent burnout. Plus, it's surprising how many plants--and people--not only do better, but actually thrive and contribute more overall to the landscape (or company) if they're moved to a place that's a better fit.

Slow your roll

You can't grow a garden overnight and, despite what many businesses claim, there's no such thing as "overnight success." Things take time, and you probably won't see results for a while. That doesn't mean you need to plow your garden under or give up on your startup immediately.

Just so you know: Things aren't going to turn out the way you originally planned. They just aren't. You can't completely control how things grow, and you have to be okay with that. Some plants (and people) are slow starters, and it takes years before they reach their full potential.

Get out the pruning shears

Sometimes, of course, things just don't work out, and you have to be willing to make hard decisions. Don't let a bush in the wrong place crowd out other plants and keep them from thriving--move it, trim it or get rid of it entirely. It's hard to do that with anything you've seen grow, but it's a necessity of keeping your garden or business healthy.

Grow, baby, grow

You have to have a hobby--your business can't be your whole life. Stop thinking of gardening as an old-fashioned activity and give it a shot. Learn to deal with plants and you'll be in a much better position to deal with people, no matter what you're growing.