Managing Your First Growth Spurt – Grow Great Small Business Daily Brief – June 25, 2018

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Managing first growth is different than later stage growth. Or it *can* be. 

Recently, I’ve encountered a few folks who have started up. They’re early stage. Some are 2-3 years in, and others are less than a year in. They range from solopreneurs to companies with 3-5 people. 

Growth is challenging, but it’s a lot nicer than stagnation, or shrinkage, or dying. 

Sure, growth is a nice problem to have, but it’s still a problem. And it needs good solutions. 

Consider the size of any space rocket. They’re multiple stories high because of the fuel they need to escape the pull of earth’s gravity. Once they get into orbit, they jettison the fuel part along the way. Just goes to show you the enormous power required to get into orbit. Momentum is hard. It takes a lot of energy. 

So when you start to get momentum, you need to leverage it fast. Don’t hesitate to seize the opportunity for growth when it’s clearly present. 

The first thing all of us must do, as business owners, is put in the work to achieve momentum and get the opportunity for growth. We want to get there as fast as possible so we can exhaust as few resources as possible. It’s no different than making our dollars go further. Get all the bang you can for your buck. 

Speed is the first rule for managing growth. Especially your first growth spurt. 

That doesn’t mean you act impulsively or recklessly. It just means you focus on it fast and avoid putting off decisions. You shove growth on the front burner where it belongs. Think about your alternatives (nearly every problem has multiple solutions). Don’t fixate on one choice. Be open to consider what may be best.

For many businesses, growth hints that we need more manpower. People. 

We sometimes hesitate to hire or expand our team. If that’s you, ask yourself why? Why are you hesitating? Are you worried that quality will suffer? Are you just a micro-manager who doesn’t want to delegate? Are you convinced you just can’t find anybody good enough? 

Do you hire somebody who has what you lack? Or do you find somebody with whom you have much more in common than not? 

Here’s the thing about successful business building. It’s a process that’s learned. You have to figure it out. There are no standard answers to these questions.

Hire the very best people you can afford. Look for the qualities that are non-negotiable to you. That means you have to first figure out what your non-negotiables are.

What skills and traits will contribute to the growth opportunities? I’ve got one strong piece of advice – hire for what you need right now. Too many small to medium business owners obsess about what they need down the road, and end up overlooking the things needed to handle the immediate opportunities. Admittedly, it’s a philosophy you may not share. The good news is, it’s your business so you can operate it any way your choose. It’s okay. 

It’s easy for us to think of today’s opportunity, then get ahead of ourselves. I don’t like getting too far ahead because it fosters a counting-chickens-before-the-eggs-hatch mindset. I’m a longterm player always looking for sustainable, predictable revenue and profits. And willing to forego a dollar today if I’m convinced five dollars can be earned a bit later. It’s mostly math. Sometimes a dollar today is necessary to keep us going. Sometimes it’s best to let go of today’s dollar because a year from now we can earn 5 times, 10 times or more…just because we waited. Patience can pay. But mostly, I’m a speed freak. Speed of getting it done. Speed of learning. Speed of pivoting when necessary. 

Whether it’s people, capital or anything else – go for what you need today to seize the opportunities you may be losing. That’s mostly the challenge: the loss of business. Growth may be happening – in a spurt – and you find yourself unable to take advantage. That’s a growth spurt and you need to address it. 

The worst thing you can do it avoid thinking about it. Or making a decision to handle it. If you do, the growth opportunity will pass. Momentum never lasts. It ebbs and flows. You want to create it as quickly as you can, then live in it for as long as you can.

There’s another secret you should know. Nothing is forever. We sometimes lament making a decision for fear we’ll be wrong. You may be wrong. Just weigh the decision’s downside. Count the cost. If the risk is high, be as certain as you can. If the risk is nominal, act with greater speed because you can fix it later if you’re wrong. News flash! You will be wrong quite a lot and it’s fine. Err on the side of taking action, not on avoiding action. 

Be thankful you’re experiencing the growth spurt. Marshall your resources to take full advantage of it…and do everything you can to prolong it. Stay in the momentum “growth zone” as long as possible. Keep feeding the beast and it’ll feed you back (in time). Be patient. 

Be well. Do good. Grow great!

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