How do you grow, change, improve your business when the two most important resources are limited – time and money? Add in risk, which comes with change and effort which affects your work life balance, and it seems hard. Can it be done? Yes, it can, and we have the data to prove it.
The risk of change
Think of medieval man, eking out an existence growing his crops, at his Lord’s whim. If someone came along with a new idea – a better yielding grain for example– how much would he be willing to invest? Probably not at all, as the risk of crop failure would mean he and his family would starve. It has parallels now. It’s why most businesses grow incrementally – usually using what Harvard professor Clayton Christensen calls efficiency innovations. Small gains, easily managed, small investment, the main business can carry on. After all, what sensible person puts all their eggs in one basket?
Small changes, small gains
Small changes are easy to manage, and results improve – slowly. Small investment too, but still the limiting factor isn’t money. It’s time. Any change needs managing and how do you get the time to instigate and manage the change? You are already busy all day. You can see other businesses moving forward, and you wonder how they do it. Perhaps they work harder. You can do that, but it comes at a cost. More time in the business means less time at leisure or with your family. How do you reconcile this?
Too much too fast
If you have no structure your good idea grows out of control. Too much growth is cancer! Cancers don’t just grow fast, they grow in unpredictable directions. But control comes at a cost – usually of time. If you have a fast-growing business, it’s stimulating, and fun. There has been an increase in tempo, and you need all your team to buy in to that, otherwise some will raise their game and some won’t. In medicine it’s called arrythmia – an irregular heartbeat – and it can be serious, even fatal. It points to a lack of structure.
Unstructured growth is chaotic
Unstructured growth is understandably all too common. A potential good idea comes along – why wouldn’t you take it? Where might that opportunity fit in? No structure means you don’t know. So, any opportunities taken don’t necessarily fit into a bigger picture – where you can make time gains, resource gains, and balance risks, so that momentum builds.
This is the main issue. The lack of structure means that momentum builds too slowly, and benefits are dissipated. Overall, the purpose of your business is to provide for you and yours. Better lifestyle, better work life balance, better security. Quickly, if possible.
Structured growth is the answer
The main benefit of structuring how you grow, apart from avoiding the issues above, is that growth becomes easier. Structure needs to be flexible, agile and resilient, not static like a business plan. Then you can bring your team with you with less effort and time. And there is a compounding effect of small gains building momentum quicker. Most trading type transactions are a zero-sum game. What I gain someone else loses, and that’s how it feels with unstructured growth. You have to give something up to get something. The beauty of structured growth is the change from “or” to “and”. Instead of more money or more time, you get more money and more time and better work life balance. We have clients who have adopted this process who have doubled the size of their turnover and profits and had more holidays.
It all comes down to these four questions:
Where am I now?
Where do I want to be?
How will I get there?
How do I make sure it happens?
These questions prompt more questions – around what you really want from life, how it fits with your life outside business and how you can change it relatively easily. Your life, your plan. That changes over time, so the example above of getting more holidays was more about spending time with the children, building collective family memories, whilst they could.