A plant becomes root-bound when it outgrows the capacity of its pot. A gardener will place the plant into a pot that, while a suitable home during the plant’s early development, becomes a parameter that hinders its maximum growth potential. The roots, after crossing the pot’s threshold and running out of extra space to grow outwards, will begin to wind throughout the pot and crowd each other. As an effect of the crowding, the roots will be unable to obtain enough water or nutrients from the soil to sustain the plant, causing starvation. Not only will the overall growth of the plant be stunted, but the roots—and possibly even the plant with them—will eventually begin to wilt.

Hope is not lost, however, for these plants literally and metaphorically entertaining the brink of their lives. The process of repotting root-bound plants into larger, more sustainable pots and pruning their roots can relieve them. Depending on the size of the pot and the typical growth of the plant, it is normal for healthy, growing plants to become root-bound and for gardeners to have to consequently repot the plants every year or so. However, the longer it takes the gardener to recognize their plant’s root-boundedness when that time comes, the longer the plant suffers.

Some businesses succeed at first, but then stagnate for years, while others may never generate significant momentum at all. The subtlety of what prevents many businesses from grasping their full capacity is as hidden as the tension between the roots and pot walls beneath a plant’s soil. The quality of an entrepreneur’s stewardship—even of one who may have been doing everything correctly, making wise financial decisions and asking for the help that they need—may not directly correlate with a business’s “root-boundedness.” Even gardeners that raise their plants rightly—planting them in good soil, consistently watering them the right amount, and providing them with adequate sunlight—cannot always evade their plants eventually becoming root-bound. Root-boundedness is not necessarily the consequence of doing wrong, but rather, a signal to begin doing something else right.

Healthy plants are not meant to stay in the same-sized pot forever, and neither are thriving businesses meant to tarry in the same-sized vision forever. Of course, it is wise for entrepreneurs to have concerns about the reach of their businesses at the start. A plan that is too ambitious will be out of touch with reality, and the entrepreneur will struggle to accomplish essential, foundational milestones in their business. But, sometimes entrepreneurs do have a vision that was meant to flourish beyond their imagination and initial ambition. If entrepreneurs considered opening their minds to new marketing strategies, marketing their products to new consumer audiences, or allowing their businesses to breathe in other forms of expansion when the time is right, they expand their business’s capacity and solve the “root-bound” problem of businesses succeeding and gaining revenue without growing in profit or effect.

Repotting is made easier by connecting to Develop Wisconsin’s ecosystem. Develop Wisconsin offers the services and resources necessary to help your business expand, whether by connecting your business to sources of capital to finance new equipment, technological support to increase the efficiency of your business, or even accelerator programs to provide advisory and professional development. By tapping into Develop Wisconsin’s ecosystem of services and strengthening your entrepreneurial mentality, your business is given space to advance and flourish. Do not allow a complacency mentality to waste your diligent efforts. Develop Wisconsin has the resources to ensure that there is enough space for your business to breathe.

Juan Pablo Sanchez Jr. is a Student Intern with Develop Wisconsin. He is a high school senior, maintains a 4.0 GPA and intends to go to Yale University.

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