In numerous cultures across the planet, indigenous people live in accordance with the elements of nature. These elements vary from culture to culture, but the underlying belief for each culture is the same: that the elements of nature are the foundation of creation, and when they are expressed in our lives in a balanced manner, they can create a flow of manifestation that is stable and abundant. This system uses the five elements of Chinese or Taoist philosophy to create a business plan and philosophy, forming a template that will ensure we leave nothing by the wayside and that our businesses grow in abundant ways. These elements are Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal. In Chinese medicine, these elements are used for diagnosing ailments. In this system, we use them to "diagnose," plan, and grow your business.
Each element in this system is correlated to various aspects of life, and as such the system of elements can fulfill every aspect of nature and manifestation. For example, each element relates to a different organ in the body, a different one of the five senses, and different qualities of voice. Your business is, in a way, a manifestation of nature, and so using these five elements is a useful way to look at it. Creating a business plan using these elements is the natural way to view your business path.
Only spirit itself is considered to lie outside of the elements. As an entrepreneur, you are taking an idea that can be seen as "spirit" in form—i.e., not yet manifest and outside of the elements—and turning it into the physical entity we call a business.
Water is the first element we will unravel, as it is the element at the beginning of the cycle since life begins in the water. Because of this, Water is also the element where creation begins. Water correlates with the energy of stillness and the season of winter, when seeds are underground and it is time to rest and gather potency. This is the time to listen, realize wisdom, and learn to trust the unknown. It's a time to be still and quiet. We may feel afraid in the stillness, but listening and remaining in the unknown will benefit us. In business, the Water element relates to your soulful mission and purpose in creating your business, your “WHY.”
Wood is the next element and is expressed by birth and growth when the energy starts to rise. This is the season of spring, the energy of emergence, the time when the seed is sprouting. It is the time to envision life's plan, hold onto our intentions, and be non-judgmental of our progress. The active energy of Wood may challenge us and we may experience obstacles, but flexibility and creativity will guide us through the turbulence of our anger and frustration. In business, the Wood element is represented by your business plan and vision.
Fire is the element of maturation, the season of summer, and the time for expansion. The sprout has now grown into a flower, and it is time to manifest our vision and embrace the constant change. The Fire element may elicit a feeling of joyfulness and excitement; remember to keep an open heart and an open mind. In business, the Fire element is the time of actualization and production. This is the gem of your business, where you put your vision out into the world.
Earth is the element of ripening and correlates to late summer, the season for the harvest. Now the flowers have expanded into fruit, and so this is the time to feel complete. We nourish ourselves and others, stay grounded and thoughtful, and understand the need to be in community and feel supported. In business, the Earth element relates to the marketing, networking, and staffing aspects of your enterprise.
Metal is the element of inspiration and purification and the time is autumn, the season of contraction. This is when the fruit falls off and decomposes, leaving the seed to be nourished. It's a time for being, of letting go of our attachments with respect and honor so we can open to further inspiration. We respect the journey and acknowledge our feelings of anger, sadness, and emptiness. This quality of introspection leads to insight. In business, the Metal element represent the structure and accounting components of your business.
Often we are fumbling as entrepreneurs, always trying to catch things before they fall apart — and this chaotic energy leads to lost potential. The only way to manifest your dreams is to be prepared, so that when the opportunity arises you can seize the moment; building a sound business plan!
This is where the system of elements comes into play. When balanced and working in sync with one another, these five elements of your business—Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal—will allow you to run your enterprise seamlessly, without worry that you are forgetting something or missing a component you are not even aware of. The intention of this system is to give you confidence to ensure that you are on the right track and moving in a prosperous direction.
Besides each element relating to an aspect of business, there is also an interplay between the elements themselves. In nature, Water nourishes the Wood element; in business, your soulful mission is what fuels your business plan and helps you to overcome obstacles. Having a very clear understanding of why you are creating your business allows you to discern where to place your priorities and energy in the early stages of growth. In this way, your business becomes an extension of who you are instead of being something that is contrived for the sole purpose of making a profit. Yes!! Profit is important and a defining factor in a successful business...but there are other components to success as well, such as the continued ambition to nurture a thriving business.
The Wood element, in turn, fuels the Fire element, just as in nature the burning of wood is what creates fire. In business, Wood is the business plan; Fire is the actualization. If you take the time to create a thorough business plan, it truly helps you see what is necessary to produce your idea or deliver your service. In this way, the Wood element feeds the Fire by giving you a clear idea and objective so that when you start to actualize, you have a blueprint that is enlivening and exciting.
When Wood feeds Fire, the resulting ash becomes Earth. In this way, the Fire of our business (actualization) nourishes the marketing and networking aspects. Now that we have our creation in hand, we need to market it so others can share in the delight of our manifestation. By sharing our soulful purpose, we in turn feel nourished by our business, giving us the energy to keep going.
The final stage in the creation cycle is the Metal element. When Earth compresses — and with the help of heat and other forces — Metal is created. In this way, the marketing, networking, and community represented by the Earth element produce profit as well as the structure of your financing, accounting, and business systems.
Together, these five elements of business— your purpose, your business plan, the actualization, the marketing, and the finances—create a well-balanced enterprise.