If you have been in business two or more years, congratulations – you are one of the 10% of start-up businesses that survive past the first two years. ( If not, don’t worry – keep reading – this information can help get you there.) Now, you find yourself in a position where you need to grow. You may be experiencing so much success that you are considering hiring employees – or, you may be experiencing burn out. You may be wondering how you can keep up the pace that got you to where you are today, and how you will be able to sustain your success in the future. For the first time in the life of your business, you are experiencing growing pains.
One of the first core principles I learned at iPEC Coaching (the program where I attained my coaching certification) is “You either grow, or you die.” Seemed rather blunt and black and white thinking when I first heard it – however, I grew up on a farm – I not only knew, but have witnessed the truth behind this statement. Each spring, I would help my father plant the crops. We would then spend the summer weeding, watering, and nurturing the plants along. Under the right conditions, they flourished. Once autumn came, we had a harvest that sustained us for the winter. However, once the plants stopped growing, they would rot into the ground if they were not harvested. It was the cycle of nature. It is a Universal law. You either grow, or you die.
For a new business owner, the idea of growth can be scary. It could mean taking on employees, expanding your service and product line, or moving into a larger space to operate from. What I have seen many business owners do instead of grow, is shrink back at this critical time due to fear and uncertainty. If they shrink back too much, they wither, and fade away.
How do you nurture and grow your business during this critical stage so you can flourish? How can you ensure a sustainable harvest?
Plan your business with the intention on allowing it to grow. So many times I see business owners start a business and say “It’s only me, so I don’t need x-y-z.” (Office space, managerial skills, insurance) But, what they fail to take into account is, it may not be “just them” forever. (nor should it be!) Eventually, you need to get to a point in your business where it is not just you. In fact, if you start your business with the intention of bringing more people into the business – whether it be employees, book-keepers, CPA’s, lawyers, trusted advisers, or virtual assistants, you will be in a much better position for growth and profitability if you plan to grow the minute you get planted.
Weed and thin your activities to get the most yield from your labors Now is a good time to look at your marketing and networking activities and evaluate if you are getting a good return on your investment. What activities are more time than they are worth? Are you over extending yourself by joining every club, committee and network? Which ones are the most valuable, and which ones can you afford to pluck out?
Understand the cycles of nature and business Every life begins, develops, and one day, ends. Understanding that your business is a living, breathing, sustaining life form will help you navigate the stages of business growth in a much more natural way. The five stages of the business cycle are growth (expansion), peak, recession (contraction), trough and recovery. Deeply understanding and being able to anticipate these stages will help form a resilient, healthy, and sustaining business. Having a guide to help you navigate these stages is always a good step.
Navigating growth can be treacherous to many business owners – trust me, I’ve been there. Critical decisions about how to best spend resources need to be made wisely. Cultivating your growth strategy can be time consuming and confusing. If you need help navigating this trail and don’t want to go it alone – I am here to guide you. Check out the Programs Blazing Trails Coaching has to offer.
Til then, Hit the Heights!
Priscilla Hansen Mahoney, CPC
Business Leadership Guide