John Tenney

Professional and Personal Blog of John Will Tenney

Tag business trends

Economic-Gardening The Right Way

Economic Gardening

Economic-Gardening  The Right WayFlorida has touted the term Economic Gardening for several years now.

Many business, political and economic leaders have dropped the phrase many times. Is there something to it? What’s it all about?

More important: Is it working?

The subject has several parts. It would require an in depth study beyond the scope of this essay but let’s try and explore it a bit.

What is Economic Gardening?
I first heard the term in a Florida Trend article (which I have been unable to find online) several years ago. I believe it was an editorial on the current practice and some excellent suggestions on how to improve it. Hopefully someone will point out the source to me as a result of this essay.

Economic Gardening, simply put, is the process of planting and growing business in a specified region. All regional leaders, be it village, county, state or even nation share a common desire to grow their economy. All realize that starting, growing and cultivating regional businesses will accomplish that goal nearly all the time. Unfortunately the practices some regions use are less than optimal. Let’s discuss some negative practices and follow up with some positive suggestions.

What NOT to do
One practice that sounds good at first but is counter-productive in the long run is attracting businesses from out of the region by giving tax breaks for moving to the area. While this might be initially advantageous, it will eventually hurt the existing businesses, and history has shown that a high percentage of transplanted business get up and move once their tax breaks end. Well, of course. If they were eager to move once to save money, why not do it again?

Another practice that can be abused is marketing in other regions. Aside from being expensive, with travel and all, it hasn’t shown a large success rate. My own county used to pay one of its commissioners to make “marketing trips” to another state with the auspicious intent of attracting businesses to move down to Central Florida. The ROI on this effort was extremely poor. It was also discovered that this commissioner was combining family visits with nearly all the trips as well.

The final error I will discuss is the tendency to concentrate on larger businesses, and neglect the high potentials of smaller business. A region would benefit much more from 100 small businesses than one large employer. When a region is dominated by a large employer that employer starts to get too much power in the region, and creating many other problems.

Let’s do it RIGHT
One of the most enlightening features of that Florida Trend article that burned in to my memory was the concept that most of the “seeds” for the region’s garden are already here, in one form or another. There are startups all the time. Giving assistance to local startups seems like a good idea, no?

Another idea was that a lot of the businesses you want to recruit from other areas may already be visiting. In Central Florida we have a large tourist population, and many of those are business owners. The article even went on to say that it might be as simple as starting a conversation at one of the local attractions and including a comment such as “Wouldn’t it be great to live here year round? Wouldn’t your business do just as well or better in this region?”

My final suggestion is to spend more time on the smaller, high potential businesses, which are generating positive cash flow for the region. This would be companies that are creating an inflow of cash to the area, be it through the private sector or government contracts. Several local organizations here in Central Florida are working in this direction – GrowFL, UCF Incubator, SBDC to name a few.

As I previously stated, a large number of small businesses makes a more attractive economic environment than a small number of large ones. Keep in mind, that every large business at one time started as a small one. Next time you see a small business owner, encourage them. And you might ask them, “Hey, you know anyone in business from out of the area that might like to live here?”

Good business to you!

business trends


business trendsPart of success is preparing for changes in the business environment.

It’s important to pay close attention to trends. What kind of trends? Some are obvious: Tax laws, government changes, current events, technology advances and media swings are all important, to name but a few.

First, a warning to business owners: Trends can be overrated and greatly misinterpreted. Use these at your own risk. “The management can neither confirm nor deny the validity of the points in this article.”

Here are some of the trends observed lately:

Big Government is In, Private Industry is Out
One needs only to look at the results of the last election to see this. Government spending is at an all time high and shows no sign of reduction, as the “entitlement generation” is coming of age. They are used to things being handed to them and want that to continue. However, with all trends there is also a reaction, which leads us to the next one …

Small Business is In, Big Business is Out
This perception is not a reality, of course. Big Business has too many weapons to be eliminated, but the “trend” is to buy from small businesses. The recent success of Small Business Saturday shows the effect of that campaign. A related trend is …

Buy Local
Even though internet sales are higher than ever, this “mantra” is being repeated over and over. Conscientious buyers are checking local stores first, or even shopping from the local website. Again, the big chains are not in any serious danger from this, as they will break up in to smaller, local operations. This will happen more and more in the near future.

Social Media is In, Talking Heads are Out
More and more people are getting their information from social media, and then only going to networks to get more information. This leads us to the next one …

Facebook is In, LinkedIn is now LinkedOUT
One at the top of the businessman’s social media, LinkedIn has plummeted in popularity while Facebook is growing faster and faster. LinkedIn has attempted (and failed) to make their interface look more like Facebook but they have missed the key points that make Facebook more popular, which is the viewer control of unwanted content and contact. Facebook users can block ads, spammers and marketers to the extent they desire. Indeed, LinkedIn has turned in to a “Lead Generation” device, which is backfiring, as those people who are successful resent the intrusion of being considered a “Lead”

Twitter is Entertaining, but still generally useless for serious business
The appeal of the one-way distribution of information is irresistible to celebrities, sports figures and entertainers, but is still generally useless to the average Joe, except as a way to follow such people’s activities. Even though they have a “Trending” function, the number of people that really know how to use it is still regrettably small.

Image Management is In, Customer Service is Out
Sad but true, marketing experts have realized that the level of customer service matters very little compared to the perception of that service. So expect to see more “green” marketing campaigns but less actual effort towards pleasing customers.

Your author hopes to continue this series. In thirty days he will review the trends predicted and see how they look. Until then …