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community for entrepreneurs

There’s something a foot in the entrepreneurial space … And some small business owners are spilling the beans on how they really feel about their business.

There’s something afoot in the entrepreneurial space, and some small business owners are spilling the beans on how they really feel about their business.

What started out as fun has turned into a nightmare. They are overwhelmed, burnt out, and exhausted. Endless hours with stress as a constant companion affords little time for home-cooked sit-down meals with family, exercise, or thinking in any strategic capacity about the direction of their business.

They silently wonder how much longer they can work at this fevered pace. They’re beginning to feel trapped and can’t quit because of all they’ve invested. They no longer own their business – their business owns them – and they want a “Get out of Jail Free” card.

The complexity of business is accelerating – along with the escalation of isolation. Even Google is turning a cold shoulder. Like a Magic 8 ball, it gave us the answers to all our questions. Now? Vast amounts of time are lost digging through pages of information. Instead of clarity, they deliver chaos. What gives?

The Disappearing Communities for Entrepreneurs

When my Dad opened his farm repair shop in a small, dusty town in North Dakota, he would visit his community banker at the local greasy spoon. Along with other owners of mom-and-pop establishments, they gathered over a cup of burnt coffee to discuss their situations and find answers to their most perplexing questions about growing their businesses.

When social media platforms emerged, communities sprung up in the form of groups. They became the go-to place to seek answers to our questions. That was until groups, overrun with promotional content, quickly became where conversations began to die.

How are we expected to grow a business in a vacuum? The truth is, we can’t!

The Dyson Effect

Minus MBAs and entrepreneurial degrees, we’re all just making this up as we go along. Granted, we have the likes of Bill Gates, Neil Patel, Arianna Huffington, Tim Ferris, and that guy over at Virgin.

We devour their words of wisdom, combing them like precious pearls to find the perfect treasure for our situation. We imitate their success—with little luck.

Why? We’re not them.

We don’t have gargantuan teams to execute our strategic initiative, deep-pocketed venture capitalists to experiment unencumbered by cash flow, or access to the best and brightest talent in search of big paydays and plush benefits. Lucky us!

What we lack resources, we make up for in passion, drive, and determination. We are a relentless group of renegades, rebels, and misfits who desire to carve out a lifestyle for ourselves and our families while delivering innovative services with a personal touch and attention to detail not found at the big behemoths.

The Cure for the Sucking Sound of Isolation & Business Stagnation

We need a hook-up, not in the dating sense, but rather in the form of valuable connections. We need to hook up with guidance, wisdom, and counsel custom-made for the size of our business.

We need community.

We need a place to build relationships with like-minded business owners who share interests and a common set of circumstances. We need a place where questions are answered, conversations are sparked, and relevant connections occur without the distraction and interruption presented by most social media platforms. We need a place to work smarter and grow faster.

We have a lot to do, and doing it together—learning from each other, sharing stories, and getting answers to questions even Google can’t provide—creates greater value for everyone invested in the community.

growth plan

Most businesses experience a plateau at some point in time — especially those in The Messy Middle. And, believe it or not, it’s somewhat predictable.   

Stalls in business growth generally occur around specific revenue markers such as $350K – $500K, then around $750K to $1M, and approximately $3-4M.  Why? That’s an excellent question and one that many entrepreneurs have battled to answer. 

Over two decades of business coaching and strategizing with the Stage II enterprise revealed common components contributing to a plateau. In most cases, it’s a combination of factors unique to the entrepreneur and the enterprise. 

There are some universal elements, however, impacting the majority of entrepreneurs who find themselves stuck in the messy middle. 

Let’s take mindset, for instance. Do you quickly become overwhelmed by the day-to-day stressors of running a business so much that you shut down strategically? Or do you feel pessimistic about future possibilities? 

Finding the right talent — not an easy feat in today’s competitive market — is another significant stressor for most entrepreneurs that often contributes to a sticking point in revenue growth. 

One’s ability to delegate is another potential component. If you’ve identified the talent, are you comfortable entrusting tasks to others? How confident are you in your delegation skillset if you’ve functioned independently for any time? 

Your rate of business growth, and a potential stall, are also influenced by your strategy. Strategy, in turn, affects pricing, impacting cash flow and ultimately determining your ability to invest in profitable growth. (For more details, read Scaling Up: How a Few Companies make it…And Why the Rest Don’t by Verne Harnish.) 

One thing we know for sure — what got you here won’t get you there.

The Conundrum of the Missing Growth Plan

The growth plan is perhaps the most crucial component in moving beyond any stall. 

There is a prevalence of the glaring absence of a growth plan, so if your growth plan is unaccounted for, don’t waste time agonizing over it. 

Growth and strategic planning are often a part of a successful business’s rise to success. Why? We have time on our hands to do the things most successful companies do. 

As we grow, day-to-day operations quickly inundate and overwhelm us. For example, we get busy putting out fires. Plus, the number of hours we work leaves little time or energy for thinking clearly and strategically. 

Often, critical elements of business growth are placed on the back burner for a point when we hope to have more time. But, sadly, it never comes. 

Growth slows to a trickle until, finally, the business stalls. It plateaus. 

That usually gets our attention. But, although it might be too late for a quick turnaround, it remains highly probable to gradually regain a resurgence in growth. 

growth planning
Photo by Vadim Bogulov on Unsplash

The Top 7 Questions to Craft Your Growth Plan  

To address the commonly shared components contributing to a stall, as stated above, let’s consider how you may address each element. Although it’s not practical or professionally responsible to give you an exact blueprint for your business growth plan, given your unique enterprise, I can pose some questions for your thoughtful consideration as you design your plan. 

Are you ready? 

#1: What’s your exit strategy? When you’re ready to hand over the keys to the kingdom, what do you want to do with your business? Do you want to sell it or pass it on to a family member? Hand the keys to a long-term employee? (BTW, this happened to a client. He gifted his seven-figure business to a colleague. Nice boss!) 

#2: Based on your exit plan, what do you want your business revenue to be in 3-5 years? Don’t wait until you’re near the end of your business career to decide. Starting today with a clear vision adds significance to other decisions to achieve your vision.  

#3: What service(s) will you be offering? Again, when you’ve taken the long view, you may find that your current product or service offerings hamper your ability to hit your targets. 

#4: What products or services are most profitable? As you consider the products or services that will most likely support your growth trajectory, you also want to consider what products or services are most profitable for you to deliver.

#5: What client or customer is most profitable for you to serve?
And, while you’re at, identify the clients or customers that are most enjoyable to work with for you and your team.

#6: What talent is required now that you precisely understand offerings and clients?  Will support talent be needed to achieve your growth numbers effortlessly? You will, after all, no longer be “doing it all” as you move things off your plate to that of others to free you up to focus on the strategy. 

#7: What costs are involved in your growth projections? First, consider the cost of your labor and operating expenses. A reasonable estimate of business expenses ensures your service is priced for profit and cash flow. 

It’s a lot to take in at one time, I know! Again the questions posed here are generally designed to trigger your creative thinking.  

As you begin drafting your growth plan, avoid adding too much detail to your long-term plan. Not only is it overwhelming, but, as we often learn, the business economy and marketplace change quickly. Focusing your attention on the next 12 – 18 months will allow you to regain control of your growth.

Uninterrupted time to think, draft, and design your growth plan is a luxury. However, if you effectively use the cracks of time (like during our Mastermind 350), you can create your entire plan one piece — one micromovement — at a time. 

Imagine my intrigue when I read an article of a business that intentionally avoided growth as a company objective. That comes as a surprise to most entrepreneurs. It’s hard to fathom, isn’t it?  Could a business actually exist without a primary objective of growth?  In spite of conventional wisdom, some businesses who are adopting the ungrowth growth strategy are experiencing stunning business growth that is the envy of any of their competitors!

Vibram, for instance, is likely the best brand you’ve never heard of.  Although not immediately familiar, you may have seen your friends sporting their product. (The first time I saw my friend wearing these rather unusual-looking “gloves” on his feet, I wasn’t sure what to think – other than something horrible happened when he got dressed that morning.)  Have you seen the ones I’m talking about?  They really are gloves for the feet, with a finger for each toe. They look like the feet part of a gorilla costume or a frog and those who wear them say they feel incredible. This is the signature sporting shoe called Five Fingers manufactured by Vibram.

To the folks at Vibram, the originator of the Five Finger sporting footwear, growth is not on their radar screen.  General Manager Adriano Zuccala explains: “The real mission of the company is to maintain reputation.  We are not stressed by a quarterly review. We are stressed by reputation. Our vision is to grow but by developing products that sell through their high quality…The preservation of the brand is essential.” The Vibram brand mantra is brand: quality: innovation.  Not scale.  By applying the ungrowth strategy, they are experiencing triple digit growth.

And there’s Reddit, a social news website, purchased by Conde Nast. Conde Nast could have squeezed the life right of this innovative, unorthodox news website but they chose to leave it alone – or it could have been sheer neglect – and it continued to grow beyond their wildest imagination. Undoubtedly, the notion of ungrowth makes for a jarring juxtaposition.

Could ungrowth be the new growth strategy for your business?  Inquiring minds want to know!

Related Blog Posts:

Is it Time to Rethink Your Business Growth?

Small Business Ideas for Business Growth: Minnovation

Strategic Coach Uses Drafting to Accelerate Business Growth

30 Ways for Entrepreneurs to Grow Their Business

Are Flies Gumming Up Your Business Growth?

Core Business Assessment


Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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