In the ascent of a startup, easy targets are often the first step toward viability. This type of effortless opportunity helps nourish the business as it grows, so naturally corporate culture cultivated catchy lingo to describe it.
Low-hanging fruit may refer to anything from an easy item on a to-do list, a potential consumer in obvious need of your product or hiring a part-time employee to absorb extra workload. It takes less heat as a corporate buzzword, so does the jargon have merit beyond the metaphor?
Spencer Bowen thinks so. “I’m pro-low-hanging-fruit if there is something tangible, an action attached to it. You can’t just throw around empty phrases,” says Bowen, the program director of AgStart, a Woodland-based nonprofit accelerator offering mentorship, education and networking opportunities to agtech startups. “It gets a little buzzy sometimes. It’s silly if you are just using it to say, ‘We need to be doing good things,’” he says.
Bowen notes the term seems insensitive when utilized in sales where the prospective clients are reduced to “fruit,” but adds that it is a good pun for a pity chuckle in ag or food situations.
“Don’t just use platitudes,” Bowen says. The best advice is to be specific and selective when referencing low-hanging fruit to colleagues. “If you are going to deploy this somewhat overused kitschy term, make sure you’re actually attaching it to something you’re going to do for a person.”
In other words, the action needs to be — ahem — fruitful. “What are the unique things that a company like AgStart can only provide that are routine and easy for us, but may be super helpful for someone?” Bowen says. At AgStart, making valuable introductions or passing along opportunities is a win-win that fosters long-term results, yet requires minimal energy or resource investment from him. Plus, he adds, picking low-hanging fruit can be a good way to “keep selling your usefulness to people.”