There’s Always a Next Level

I’m not sure whether I find it exhilarating, or indescribably wearying. Sometimes a little of both, I guess. We are in the process of taking our business to “the next level”. I find that every time I do, there is another level waiting. I’m not even so sure it is like stairs or rungs of a ladder. Maybe more like a mountainside. Sometimes rocky outcroppings, sometimes smooth slopes, sometimes gravely slides, but always small pebbles, streams, hummocks and plants to navigate around and over.

I’m also constantly seeing differences between people who succeed in business, and those who don’t, and I think that the constant growth and change and upward climb is one of those things. Failure to grow when opportunity presents, and resistence to needed change stifles a business.

Growth isn’t something that just happens. Not sustainable growth, anyway. You can’t just get more customers and grow a business. Each time you get more customers, you have to adjust to the increased workload. If you don’t, you sink. So growth means planning, adjusting, and more work. It means changing the way you work long term. If you don’t, growth becomes an unpleasant experience.

Statistically, a significant number of businesses scale back after explosive growth, choosing to never grow that large again. They maintain a sort of equilibrium, by turning away business, or by neglecting to accommodate additional customers in a satisfactory manner – so they go elsewhere. They may choose to stop marketing, or decide that extra service is no longer possible. They reach “critical mass” and choose not to change how they do things to raise the limits so further growth is possible.

I think that there are two points that are missed by small business owners where growth is concerned:

1. Not understanding themselves well enough to know what it is they love about the business, and how to keep it in the business as growth occurs. Often, they think about what they want, but not what that actually means. Everyone wants to be famous, but do they want reporters waiting to ambush them when they leave their house? Everyone wants to be rich, but do they want to pay the taxes, make the choices, and deal with the responsibilities that come with it? Business is like that – rapid and large growth has two sides, and it is wise to understand what you really love about your business, so you can preserve it and minimize the negative impacts of growth. This should be considered early on. What is it that defines the business, and makes you love doing it? When growth occurs, those are the things to hang onto, and to develop new strategies to preserve.

2. Not being able to change in constructive ways. They tend to just get bogged down when growth happens, and they hate that, so they feel like growth isn’t what they wanted after all. Tied closely to the first point, the ability to actually initiate change in a business, in a way that keeps it fun, is one of the keys to growing beyond your current capacity. Sometimes it means systems for the routine or boring parts. Sometimes it means automation to streamline the processes so they are more efficient, and so you have more time for the fun parts. Sometimes it means outsourcing the parts you are not as good at, or dislike doing. Sometimes it means hiring someone and defining duties for them that take the less enjoyable tasks off your shoulders. But it always means lightening the load of the things that you do not enjoy as much, first, and never automating anything that is a critical element in defining your niche if it would lose quality to do so.

The onward and upward path is much smoother if we are thinking about where the time holes are in our business, and always thinking about how to make things operate more efficiently. Plug the holes, and life gets more fun, and less harried.

There is never a stage in business where efforts cannot be made to keep it enjoyable, and to keep it growing, if that is your goal. There’s always a change that can be made to make things better.

Grow a Garden!

Gardening doesn't have to be that hard! No matter where you live, no matter how difficult your circumstances, you CAN grow a successful garden.

Life from the Garden: Grow Your Own Food Anywhere Practical and low cost options for container gardening, sprouting, small yards, edible landscaping, winter gardening, shady yards, and help for people who are getting started too late. Plenty of tips to simplify, save on work and expense.