Imagine that you were rich.  You want to build your rich person “house on a hill” and so you find an unoccupied hill and buy the land.  You hire an architect and contractor to build your dream home.  It’s going to take six months to complete construction.  You hire a landscaper to design your private utopia.  But here you run into a problem.

The problem is that trees take time to grow.  You don’t want a bare property with just shrubs and grass, but rich as you are, you can’t buy the years it takes for a seed to reach maturity.  

What do you do?  You buy saplings rather than seedlings.

Like I wrote about yesterday, businesses take time to grow.  That doesn’t mean that fast growth isn’t possible.  Setting aside technological market disruption, there are ways to cheat time and grow quickly.  Most of them revolve around some form of acquisition.  You acquire a resource that has already gone through the length of time needed for it to be useful.

This makes sense.  But often we have the impulse to do everything from scratch.  To solve every problem ourselves.  

It’s okay to take the “home grown” approach.  But the cost is speed.  And if you have an aim to reach certain objectives in a specific time frame, it’s important to recognize when your approach is going to work against you.

As a concrete example:

A friend of mine runs a coffee shop.  He wants to add cinnamon rolls to his baked goods and so he’s learning how to make them.  It’s going to take him significant time to get it where it is fully integrated and working in his business system.  He’s enjoying himself and is 100% okay with the slow arc of developing this system.  But if his goal was to optimize his baked goods’ profit and get the additional cash in the business ASAP, acquiring pre-made cinnamon rolls (or an alternative high profit treat) would be weeks to months faster.

Featured image is of Ptolemy’s world map of Ceylon, first century CE, in a 1535 publication. Sri Lanka is “Tabrobana” and Roman traders traveled the silk road to acquire the spice cinnamon from here to introduce to Europe. Used under public domain.