Now let's talk about the challenges that farmers face on a day-to-day basis that also affects most entrepreneurs and employees. There are two things every farmer hates more than anything else in the world: Pests and Parasites. If you are going to be any good at this farming thing, then you also need to be aware of these as well.
You plant a field of corn, only to come back and find that your neighbour's foolish goats have come to eat where they did not sow. That billy goat is no longer a domesticated farm animal, but now a pest. So now you're out chasing goats instead of clearing out the weeds.
You plant carrots and you're counting down days till they mature and you can dig them out, wash them and sell at the village market. Then you discover that some wild rabbits came along and reaped before you did. Those rabbits are no longer as cute as Bugs Bunny. They are pests. Now you're out chasing rabbits.
You have a fish farm and you are expecting a harvest of about 1,000 fishes. On the appointed harvesting day, you discover you have barely 300 fishes. Now one of 3 things are possible:
1. Your fishes have finally defied evolution and about 700 went ahead to learn how to walk about on land.
2. Some of your fishes repented of their grievous sins and these holy fishes have been raptured into heaven.
3. Some of your employees probably had fish stew for dinner everyday for the last 3 months.
Your guess is as good as mine. You see in the same way a farmer must deal with the pests that come in to ruin their produce, in the same way we also have pests than can disrupt your business operation. They affect your produce by eating off your profits and output.
So good farmers either set traps to avoid such pests from walking freely into their farmlands. Or they fence off their farm entirely. Or if the pests in question are really small like termites, moths, locusts, caterpillars and small stuff with big appetites, they use pesticides.
Pests in your business can be that friend who insists on getting free services. Or that other friend who is only around to celebrate when you score a big juicy contracts but never there to help you with a soft loan when your resources dry up. Pests can also be the competition that steals your time away from your business and gets you engaged in some flowery pursuit of an NDDC contract or an international oil deal that never materializes.
A pest can also come in form of an employee that sits around gossiping all day long, or uses the time you should be spending prospecting you use it to check for juicy gossip on Linda Ikeji. A pest could also be Facebook or Twitter. Pests could also be clients who seem to have never-ending demand of your time but don't pay commensurate to the attention they demand. Get rid of them. Put a fence around them or get a "Do Not Disturb" or "No Credit Today, Come Tomorrow" sign and put it on your front door. Sack the worker that doesn't produce results only excuses.
Farmers must also deal with parasites. A parasite is different from a pest, because while a pest is largely visible and external; a parasite is invisible and internal. While a pest affects your profits, a parasite affects your ability to produce. So they must be dealt with differently.
Without going into too much detail (this isn't a Biology class), let me just say that most plant diseases are caused by fungi; losses to bacteria and viruses are important, but less so than those caused by fungi. A great diversity of fungi cause plant disease, nearly all major groups are involved. In spite of these numbers there are just two types of parasite to consider: nectrotrophs andbiotrophs. Necrotrophs are a little like predators; they kill the tissues they are about to consume before they eat them. Unlike predators, however, they don't normally kill the whole organism, just a part of it. They do this by means of toxins that diffuse out into the host tissues, killing the cells they encounter.
On the other hand, biotrophs obtain their nutrition from living cells with which they may establish fairly long-lived associations. They usually penetrate the cell walls of their hosts and establish contact with the cell membrane by means of haustoria, cells specialized for the absorption of nutrients.
Plants and thier farmers do not just accept parasitic fungi. They have a large array of defense mechanisms that guard against fungal disease so that most fungi cannot get in. These defenses include physical barriers like the tough cuticle lining the surfaces of plants or the bark on trees. Chemical barriers including various toxins and strong oxidizers may be utilized by the farmer.
In a much similar way, entrepreneurs have parasites that must be dealt with decisively. Parasites could be poor emotional intelligence, low self esteem, poor financial controls, weak marketing, poor customer service etc. In this case though you may not be able to see the pests, still you know they exsist because it affects your output. Don't just choose to ignore them, rather choose to get more information by means of either a business consultant, a personal coach, a good guide book, a motivational audio program or perhaps a new employee to fill the gaps or business partner that brings synergy into your business model.
What you must never do is just watch and pray, hoping for a miracle to make the problem disappear. The good thing about these problems is that they are man-made so the solutions can also be man-made.
When a farmer solves his problem of Pests and Parasites, his output fills the store house. In the same way, when you solve the challenge with the Pests and Parasites affecting your business, your productivity will soar through the roof. I'm counting on you to take out time to do just that.
In my next post, we shall discuss on Seasons of Business. So keep a date and be kind enough to recommend.