How to Create Abundance from (almost) Nothing

company value scaling up Apr 26, 2022

I am so excited to be writing this blog post that I could barely wait to put down my thoughts on “paper"!

This is a story about what nature can teach us as business owners. But before I get into details, let me confess that I’m a health freak! There, I said it. Yes, I’m gluten-free, vegetarian, can’t eat certain foods due to allergies, and I try to eat vegan whenever I can. Even the sight of meat makes me feel nauseous. In my own home, I eat and drink organic almost exclusively. In other words, I’m one of those people party hosts dread and will eventually ask to bring their own food and beverages. Little do they know what got me to this point–a multi-year personal journey of recovery that led me from debilitating food sensitivities to now almost completely restored health.


But don’t worry. You don’t have to be a health geek like myself in order to appreciate what I’m going to tell you. 


In our free time, my wife and I enjoy browsing YouTube to scout out potential vacation destinations. The other day we somehow ran across a video listing by James Prigioni that had the words “Food Forest” in its title. Having never heard of that term, I was quite intrigued. Turns out that a food forest–also known as forest garden or permaculture–is an amazing ecosystem of plants and beneficial organisms that is entirely self-sufficient, requires only minimal maintenance, and no artificial fertilizers, chemical pesticides, or toxic insecticides. And best of all, anyone with some extra lawn space to spare can have one!


The forest garden is an ancient concept practiced in different parts of the world. In the 1980s, Robert Hart observed that the natural forest consists of multiple layers of plants, from tall trees to root plants and groundcovers. Applying his insights to growing food, he identified 7 layers of food-producing plants that can be intermingled in such a way that they create a perfect, self-contained habitat. Hart’s 7-layer concept has since become the standard among permaculturists, including James Prigioni, the person I watched on YouTube.


James is rapidly becoming a YouTube celebrity. He's like a kid in a candy store as he leisurely strolls through his gardens. In a sequence of several short videos, he enthusiastically walks his viewers through the process of how he converted a small piece of lawn right by his New Jersey residence into this luscious, beautiful garden brimming with mouth watering fruits and vegetables, dozens of types of berries, and grapes. His garden keeps producing more than he and his beloved dog, Tuck, could ever eat! At a time when the world increasingly worries about food shortages, his videos are not only inspirational but an absolute must-see! 


The “Holy Grail”


Personally, I of course see the enormous health benefits of the premium-quality food that grows in James’s backyard. It is far superior and cleaner than anything organic available in stores. But aside from that, James’s ability to create natural abundance from pretty much nothing really catches my attention as a business coach. What’s more, the abundance of his gardens is self-perpetuating year after year with little need to interfere with nature’s course. Whether or not he tends to his forest gardens, they produce riches.

And that truly is the “holy grail” of most growth-oriented business owners, isn't it?

Scaling Up Your Own Riches


What do forest gardens teach us as business owners? And what is the secret to their success? 


As far as I can tell, the recipe lies mainly in the proper selection and strategic placement of the plants. When done well, this creates a self-managing universe of symbiotic relationships. However, the hidden, underground secret of all this is the very foundation of the garden–the soil. For James, the best and most nutritious soil is created by layering wood chips and leaving them to decompose with the help of naturally present bacteria and organisms.


The habitat of symbiotic relationships between all component parts very much reminds me of the methodology we use as Scaling Up Coaches. The Scaling Up framework distinguishes between four interconnected areas of business:

  • People,
  • Strategy,
  • Execution, and
  • Cash.

To achieve maximum, sustainable business growth, these four areas must be tightly aligned with each other. Without the right people in the right roles doing the right things the right way (People), there will be no growth. Similarly, without a clear and powerful growth strategy, a company is bound to fall short of its goals (Strategy). Poorly run or broken processes and office drama are also huge obstacles to growth (Execution), as is lack of cash–the very fuel without which there simply can’t be any growth (Cash). 

The hidden foundation for these elements to come together symbiotically and scale up your wealth–the soil of James’s forest garden–is your mindset and leadership as a business owner. 


You are the architect and steward of your forest garden. Design it properly, step back, and let the magic happen!

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