What Is the Meaning of Low-Hanging Fruit in Business?

picking low hanging fruit

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The phrase "low-hanging fruit" refers to easy-to-accomplish tasks or easy-to-solve problems in a particular situation. It's a cliché often uttered in business settings that are widely used and occasionally abused. 

Tasks described as "low-hanging fruit" are inconsequential to the larger challenges. Much like the easy but low priority items on your to-do list, they might be quick for you to dispatch but relatively insignificant given your larger challenges. And just as time management experts suggest, focusing on the most important priorities will yield the best results. Business professionals should avoid spending too much time reaching for low-hanging fruit

Key Takeaways

  • "Low-hanging fruit" refers to the easy-to-reach fruit on the lower branches of fruit trees.
  • Sound time-management practices include identifying the most urgent tasks and goals, which often are not low-hanging fruit.
  • A business that spends too much time focusing on low-hanging fruit risks missing out on the longer-term, more sustainable business goals and projects.

Low-Hanging Fruit in Business

Some of the goals you set for your organization will be easier to achieve than others. For example, if you've completed a customer satisfaction survey that showed that customers are dissatisfied with your telephone support service, you might set a number of goals designed to fix the areas they critiqued. You might set one goal to answer all incoming calls within a certain period of time, and another goal might be to resolve 90% of customer support issues on the first call.


The phrase low-hanging fruit references the sweet, easy-to-reach fruit at the lower end of a tree's branches. Orchard workers and homeowners appreciate the ease with which this fruit can be picked, in contrast to the effort required to reach the fruit found higher in the tree. 

The first goal is considerably easier to achieve. Improving the time-to-answer can be managed quickly by hiring more telephone representatives and buying any necessary additional equipment. Of course, adding staff and equipment requires access to capital, but this goal would still be considered the low-hanging fruit.

The second goal is more challenging than the first, potentially requiring you to increase the technical know-how of the customer service representatives as part of improving the overall customer experience. It involves employee evaluation, training, potentially eliminating some workers and hiring new ones, and a variety of other activities. 

Examples of Low Hanging Fruit in Business

The low-hanging fruit is tempting, but potentially less valuable than more challenging issues. Other examples of low-hanging fruit might include:

  • Customers who regularly reorder a product, requiring little more than an occasional reminder call from a sales representative
  • Quality defects in manufacturing that are easily identified and repaired
  • Boosting employee morale through positive feedbackand recognition
  • Remedying performance problems with constructive feedback
  • Satisfying a customer by accommodating a return request
  • Casual employee goal setting where the goals do not directly tie to the firm's strategies
  • Process improvement initiatives where the simpler processes are attacked and improved before more complicated processes are evaluated

Ideally, those items we designate as low-hanging fruit are easily handled in the normal course of business. However, when we simplify our goals to focus on these simple items, we are potentially short-changing the firm.


Remember: Effective time management means prioritizing the most urgent task and projects.

Business Goal Selection and Low-Hanging Fruit

Goals shouldn't be selected and pursued because they're easy.

Business goals should be prioritized in terms of overall importance toward achieving the organizational strategy. Proper goal establishment includes linking goals to key strategic priorities and building the mechanism for measuring and monitoring performance. If the goal does not directly connect to a firm's key strategy, it likely should not be pursued. 

Low-Hanging Fruit Beyond Business Goals

Low-hanging fruit doesn’t only refer to goals. It can also refer to targets.

Sales professionals will tell you that it’s easier to get an existing customer to buy more than it is to gain a new customer. Some salespeople target repeat sales to existing customers because they consider them to be low-hanging fruit. However, if a firm's overall health is predicated upon regularly capturing new customers, focusing on this easy-to-access business can be dangerous.


Astute sales managers will ensure that their representatives strive for an appropriate balance of the low-hanging fruit with repeat customers and hard-to-reach fruit with new customers. 

The Bottom Line

Beware the easiest to reach tasks and goals. While going for the low-hanging fruit may be tempting, the true rewards often come from climbing higher and stretching for the fruit in the higher branches. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the first step in good time management?

Good time management is really about organizing priorities, and then setting up a system to accomplish them. That means the key first step to take is to identify the tasks, projects, and goals that are the most urgent, and tackle them first. Other aspects of time management like removing distractions and blocking out your time support the first goal.

What are examples of low-hanging fruit?

The phrase low-hanging fruit refers to low effort tasks that yield rapid results, but are not sustainable (because eventually you will have picked all the low-hanging fruit). An example may be a to-do list that includes items like "review email" and "order office supplies" (easy, low-hanging fruit tasks) and "plan next year's budget" and "improve our returns process" (difficult, but mission-critical tasks).

Updated by Lars Peterson
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  1. University of Georgia Extension. "Time Management: 10 Strategies for Better Time Management."

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