If you’ve sat in enough of my workshops and presentations, you’ve probably heard me talk about goal accomplishment is like raising children. Kids go don’t grow up overnight, and they don’t change overnight. However, as any parent knows (or anyone that has been around kids), you kids do grow up. Infants turn into toddlers, which turn into kids and pre-teens. At each stage kids look different and behave different. One day you’ll look around and BAM, your kids are grown and raising kids of their own! This week, I’d like to talk about this natural cycle and how it pertains to your business.
Your Business, Your Baby
Many new business owners will refer to their businesses as their baby. Honestly, many people that have been in business for decades still have the same emotional connection to their business. Consider a business owner that has started and operated a successful business for decades and is nearing retirement. Many times, they struggle to relinquish control, because they still see their business as their baby. The analogy of a business being a baby isn’t that far off because the business cycle follows a natural progression just like raising children. Knowing where you are in the maturation process can help you understand where you need to focus and what you can look forward to in the future.
All businesses have an infancy period. A new idea, a new business with the sole purpose to survive. A business in the infancy phase cannot sustain itself, and needs constant love and attention. Just like having an infant in your home, a business in its infancy will keep you up at night, make you worry about its health, and have you attending to every hiccup that happens. The business is just trying to survive. As a business owner, it is your job to feed the business, and keep it alive. Without constant attention keeping your business alive, you will soon be among the more than half of business owners that fail within the first four years.
Congratulations, your business made it out of infancy! Now what? Your business has grown some legs and is beginning to experience independence. You no longer have to worry about mere survival, but you do have to worry about getting into trouble. Kids like to explore and as they get older they like to push boundaries. This could be dangerous in a business. In this phase, a business owner might be looking at expanding, exploring new products, or overestimate their growth potential. In each of these instances if you go too far, too fast, you could get hurt. Hopefully, it’s just a few bumps and bruises that you can recover from, but in some instances, these mistakes can cause you to go out of business.
You’ve survived, and know the boundaries, so you know everything right? I mean you’ve been in business for a while and have your scars to prove it! Being a teen is awkward for a business, as well as a child. This is truly a transition phase. You are no longer a small business, but you’re not a big business either. You think, act and behave differently than you did as a small business, but you’re still not ready to compete with the large companies. In this stage it is important to watch, learn and prepare yourself for adulthood. This likely means you’ll need to restructure your business, and hire new talent. Your business is strong, vibrant and ready to take on the world. You just need to make sure you are prepared.
This should be the objective for any business, to reach adulthood. At this point, you have a mature business that can sustain and take care of itself. You’re generating revenue, you’re established and you have the whole world in front of you! You’ve learned how to run your business successfully, and now it’s time to continue the journey. Your business will continue to grow and prosper if you do what is necessary to grow. Keep focused on the future and continue to improve and your business will have a long and prosperous adulthood!
This Week’s Challenge
Building a business is a natural process. There is no magic time table for how long it will take your business to progress from one stage to the next, but you will stay in each phase until you learn all the lessons required to move on. Remember, what makes you successful as an infant will not make you successful as a teenager. This week, evaluate what stage your business is in, and what you need to learn to progress to the next phase. Remember, as a business owner you don’t have to have all the answers, but you need to know where to get help when you need it.
If you would like to discuss more ways to help your business grow or if you feel you have a specific problem that needs to be addressed, please reach out to me!