Turning Acorn Businesses into Mighty Oaks using mindfulness

How to turn acorn businesses into mighty oaks using mindfulness

Acorn businesses are businesses with aspirations for greatness. Whether this is to change the world or provide a fulfilled lifestyle for the owner. But Acorns need cultivation to go from acorn to seedling, seedling to tree and from tree to mighty oak. Seedling businesses are delicate if you overwater your seedling it will drown. The problem with seedling businesses is not a lack of great ideas but rather that there are too many that can drown a fledgling business. Long to-do lists means an overworked, stressed out workforce. But by using the principles of mindfulness you can let go of distractions and grow your business by increasing focus.

Choosing mindfulness to achieve Business Zen

Running a business isn’t for the faint hearted. Operators have to make everything happen - their job is to make it look like a swan gliding across the surface pond. But underneath the surface, their legs are getting a furious workout.  This just seems to be the life choice that comes with the role. But some successful people just seem to make it seem easy. These are the people that have mindfully recognised that there is a better way. These are the people that are using awareness and acceptance to work on a higher level.

What it feels like when you have too many ideas

It all starts with awareness. Being aware about what’s going on. Do you have a stack of projects like website redesign, marketing initiatives, new product ideas, etc. but struggling to get through them all? The to-do list just gets longer everyday and it feels like you’re trying to stay on a treadmill that’s set to a constant sprint. It’s a struggle I face in my own business. I’m lucky that I’m surrounded by smart people who are a constant source of great ideas. I can’t say no to any of the ideas because they are good ideas that make perfect sense. But what I get left with is so many ideas that it’s impossible to do them all.

Awareness is knowing how this is affecting your business

Say you have ten projects on the go and you’re half way through them all. What you have for all your hard work is ZERO. Because as Seth Godin says you make progress when you ship, not when you work. 5 finished projects is infinitely better than 10 half finished projects. Too many unfinished projects is like over-watering delicate seedlings. Overwater your seedling and it will drown instead of grow into a healthy oak.

Awareness is understanding the personal cost

And it’s not just about the business. When you’ve got a never ending list of to-do items you’re overworked, stressed out, feeling guilty about all the unfinished work and never really able to switch off.

Mindfulness - deciding to work on a higher level

All this means that it’s time to do some pruning. Being mindful about your business means spending some time working on the business. Become aware of what’s taking you forward and what’s holding you back. Deciding what not to do. And achieving acceptance about compromises you have to make in the pursuit of focus.

Getting stuck in the trees

And in my own business - even though I am a strategy professional, I struggle to achieve the right focus. I get excited about all the different ideas and the potential they hold. And I am too busy working in the business, to work on the business. I am too deep in the trees to see the forest! Being mindful is about realising that you need to take a different point of view. Switching between the 40 000 foot view and the micro view isn’t something that comes naturally to people. Sometimes the best way to get a different perspective is to use someone else's perspective.


Scaling up is hard work and doing everything means doing nothing. Adding more work is not the path to Business Zen. Be mindful of your realistic capacity. Many business owners are struggling to keep their heads above the water. But they don’t have conscious awareness that they are at serious risk of overwatering their seedling business. Without awareness business owners don’t realise why they are struggling in the first place. Awareness is the first step to solving any problem. In business strategy it’s more important to choose what not to do than what to do.

Prioritization as a Boss Skill

It’s the boss’s job to make sure that their department has priorities, that everyone knows the priorities and is working towards them. This is a business strategy skill. Great bosses know how to engage their employees in the prioritisation process to get their employees input and increase ownership. For more information on a prioritization process, email priority@managerfoundation.com


Do you have any comments, tips or questions? Please help the rest of us out by sharing in the comments below.

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