Lessons Learned in Slow & Steady Growth

I was curious how things have changed in my life in the past 3 years. Sometimes re-reading the blogs I wrote “way back then” are interesting. Most often I find that what I said and believed then, still hold true!

And, interestingly, I just watched a video from entrepreneurial and executive leadership coach Aly Pain about taking time to reflect. This revisit to “me” circa holiday-season three years ago, plus watching Aly’s video, have set my mind where it needs to be … back on the pace I need and in the mindset I want. Whew!

Take a review of an excerpt from a December 2009 blog post I wrote called “Grow Big or Stay Home? Not Necessarily” and then read some major upsets and lessons I have had since that blog post! Lots of truth telling in today’s article. Hope you appreciate it!

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Do you live in ‘bigger is better and so is faster’ mindset? Many type A entrepreneurs do. Not that they always like it, but they just can’t seem to help themselves. The need to be “the best” or “the only” is a dominant entrepreneurial trait, and one that compels us to move forward at a rate that can make a business really thrive quickly. But it can also be unrealistic and cause burn out or disappointment.

Why? Growth requires a plan to sustain that level of growth or continued growth. Can you really see yourself climbing a mountain so fast that when you reach the peak you still have clarity of thought and energy to climb another mountain right away? Not likely. But you might think you do… because you have adrenaline! That good ol’ Rocky Mountain high! But adrenaline is false reality and not one from which you can build a sustainable plan.

You need time to come down from that mountain top once in awhile. If your rise to success is rapid you may find that you are teetering and close to falling flat on your face while trying to juggle great customer service, product delivery, processes, or all your business entails.

If you have taken this rocket-ship ride to success and are still scaling mountains at Olympian rates, then congratulations! I’d guess you did some fantastic things right before you set out or before you toppled. A great business plan that models resources required at each success plateau is a roadmap to ongoing success. Having a strategy that allows for managing your business beyond yourself (staff, outsourcing, process-aiding technology, etc) is part of what can make you more than a business ‘one hit wonder’.

If you have set ‘go big or go home’ goals, then I recommend one of two things. If you are a parent starting a business or you are starting a business while managing other priorities, embrace the idea that slow growth is steady growth and gives you more flexibility to succeed as you discover how your new business fits your life. You can build hype and momentum at a pace that matches your personal and business goals without setting yourself up for an ‘unmanagable’ business that is TOO successful too fast. By the way, some of the most long-lasting companies are those that started small and climbed the mountain at a slow, steady pace.

If ‘going big’ is the only way to go, ensure you are prepared for rapid-fire successes and have the cash resources, people resources, technology tools at the ready to help you manage. Learn how to make smart choices by having:

  • lean but effective business operations
  • staff or professional experts (virtual assistant, accountant, graphic design, marketing, lawyer, etc)
  • a coach who can keep you focused on what you WANT
  • smart marketing

Be prepared to change your mind. Being flexible to opportunity or recognizing what’s not working quickly is a valuable mindset. Watch the hype and momentum. If you are in it to make money, customers are your only focus.

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3 Giant Lessons I’ve Learned in 3 Years About How to Grow Slow

In the past 3 years there have been 3 major intersections in my life that made me pause and remember what I wrote above (because I still believe it completely):

  1. I launched IAMPTE with a bang 2 years ago in February , but it fell flat out of the gate because my time that went into creating it and rallying champions and collecting high quality content from experts was WAY more than I should have invested. I lost more sleep than I could apparently handle, and I was hit with a flu the same week it launched. I cut my launch plans down to 20% effort and it took me three months to recover. I had let myself get unwell and didn’t notice. I had H1N1 and my family suffered for it as much as my new project did. BIG lesson there to learn.I fear this is a Type-A lesson that I will learn more than once in my life but I’m trying very hard to not repeat to that degree! Here is Aly’s video about taking time to reflect! [http://alypain.com/blog/Take+Time+to+Reflect] I think had I paused to reflect I would have changed course or extended my launch period or ran it another way. Truth is, IAMPTE is still not at my original vision, but it WILL get there one day soon.
  2. In 2010 I took a 20-hour per week contract that required a tiny bit of extra outside care for our youngest child. The job seemed perfect on paper. I took it with gusto and plans to still manage MPowered Marketing and my other projects, but downgrade my other client workload to make it possible. It mostly worked. However, I was extremely dissatisfied. I discovered that the lifestyle I asked to have while doing the work was an ill-fit for their company after the fact, and the work I was doing (highly time consuming social marketing set up) was not understood, therefore not valued. In the end, it was a great organization but we were not on the same planet in terms of how to meet their end goals. The good girl in me who can get along was at tug of war with the entrepreneurial leader and the leader won. My vision was different than theirs for how to create success, so I had to let it go. We all take sidesteps from our mission at times. This was one of those for me, that ended up making my business take a backseat. But c’est la vie! I had lots of lessons learned and good experiences and growth opportunities within that 10 month period.
  3. I turned 40. This in itself is fabulous. I love being 40. However, I have had a realization that 40 is actually a whole new ballgame for health and wellness, peri-menopause nearly immediately following childbearing years has not been kind on my physical and mental well being. I have had to learn more about myself in the past year than the previous 40, in order to be the strong female role model I want to be for my daughters. The ONLY way I have learned to keep growing and being a leader in my home and in my communities is to talk it out, never pretend and always accept my reality. Meaning, I have PMDD and I don’t know yet how to cope with it the best I could. I’ve managed the mental head game that goes with it finally, but I’m ready to face the physical. It’s time.

How does this make any difference to my business?

It’s everything. I do still insist on putting my children first, but they don’t need me as much. My natural instinct is to replace the minutes they don’t need me with more work. But here in lies the one flaw in my business plan. That time when my children don’t need me must be replaced in part with time to take care of myself. That is my mission for my 41st year and the 5th year in business.

Growing my business slow has been exceptionally rewarding, including the mistakes I’ve made. I’ve learned so much from those mistakes. And now it’s time to activate my experience into a faster pace that includes personal health and wellness. It’s time for both. In 2013 my youngest kiddo goes into Grade 1. I will miss her as I miss her sisters, but I worked towards this time with clear purpose. I’m ready for the rest of my business and personal life to ramp up. Not long now!

I would love you to share your personal roadblocks and hiccups with my readers. They are important and so inspiring. From our mistakes and our hurdles we all shall grow.

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