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Russ Allred, business consultant and author at Sunbelt Business Brokers

Business success means planting an orchard, not trees.

A single blossom has emerged from the lone nectarine tree in our yard. While we appreciate its presence, we know it only indicates a future harvest. There is much to do before any fruit is picked to feed our family, and all our efforts would be vain if someone hadn't planted a sapling 20 years before.

One tree may only fill the needs of our extended family, but consider the yield of the farmer who planted a thousand trees a generation ago. The path to wealth can take many years and we are often distracted by the salient needs of the season.

Less than 20 percent of the U.S. population ever graduates from college. Their education is like planting the tree. It promises a harvest sometime in the future. Most college graduates enjoy a good living; on average they make $1 million more in a lifetime than non-graduates.

Consider the incomes of three people I know with advanced degrees: a doctor of medicine, a doctor of food science and an MBA. Each of them had the vision to invest in education, each of them earns a six-figure income, but all of them combined don't earn the incomes of the entrepreneurs who employ them. Many successful entrepreneurs never finished college.

The difference in income derives from the scale of their vision and where they invested their time. The typical business owner is like the home gardener. We buy a sapling, plant it, water it, fertilize it, prune it and hopefully reap a modest harvest.

Early on, our nectarine tree had a wood bore that split the tree in half. We sprayed it and lost the remains of that year's harvest. The next season, a similar bug threatened the other half. All our yield is tied to one small tree. A commercial farmer might have simply uprooted the one tree and replaced it. Average entrepreneurs sweat the small stuff, because it's all they have. Successful farmers think on a broader scale.

If your entrepreneurial income is above the average, congratulations. However, you could make more. Yes, it is possible to earn a seven-figure income in your industry. If you can earn $100,000 in this geographic area, then you can earn $1 million by expanding to 10 areas.

You can be the one who hires the MBA to analyze processes and squeeze out another 10 percent profit. Or you can invest in a new clinic and hire a doctor. Or you can hire a scientist to make delicious fat-free ice cream.

But you can't do any of that if you spend all your time nurturing a business that is going nowhere. One tree may offer you a livelihood, but your fortune depends on your orchard.

-- Russ Allred, MBA, is a business consultant and author with Sunbelt Business Brokers & Advisors. These are his opinions, not necessarily those of The Californian.