Growing Pains

Todd Washburn |

Growing Pains

You probably started your business for a variety of reasons:

·         To make money

·         To have the freedom to do it “your” way

·         To do something you have a passion for

·         To not have to work for someone else

·         Because you longed for long hours, lots of stress, and the opportunity to deal with lots of little things you hate to do.

OK- well maybe not the last one.  But some or all of the others likely factored into your decision.  Business owners tend to be individualists.  They believe in their ideas and are willing to put themselves out there to make it happen.  However, their individualistic tendencies can also, at times, be their Achilles Heel- especially if they are unwilling to seek outside help.

Many- most- businesses start out slowly.  The owner- you- has a grand vision of where it’s going to go.  But reality starts slower.  You may not have an abundance of clients/customers/patients or money, but you have time.  So you do everything yourself in whatever manner you think best.  And this works- for a while at least.  Then comes the thing that you’ve both longed-for and fear- Growth.  Suddenly there are more clients/customers/patients, all needing your time and expertise.  But you have less time and there are still all those pesky things to do (bill paying, inventory, compliance, etc.). Your systems that worked fine suddenly can’t handle the workload.

So what do you do?  Many folks just decide to work longer and harder.  In the end they realize they’ve created a monster- and they hate it.  Owning a business now stinks.  It’s worse than working for someone else.

So what’s wrong here?  The owner has forgotten, or never learned, the old adage about the importance of not just working in your business but also on your business.  The growing pains have simply accentuated the owner’s areas of weakness- areas he/she just doesn’t enjoy and maybe isn’t particularly good at.

So what do you do?  It’s simple- GET HELP.  There are folks out here who are good at what you aren’t.  People who can show you different and better ways to do things.  People who can do those things for you.  It’s hard to admit to needing help- but it’s harder to reinvent every wheel yourself.

Typically you’ll work piecemeal with these folks- a marketer, a technology consultant, a business coach/consultant, etc.- and that can and does work fine. There is however an interesting experiment being started here in our area.  It’s called the Small Business Success project.  Earl Hadden, a man with a long background in business consulting and sales, initiated it but has since brought in three other partners with different but complimentary skills.  They all have their own businesses but are also starting to work together to coordinate their diverse skills- from getting you organized to developing a marketing/online strategy to building systems and processes to- and maybe most importantly- getting your head/heart/vision/attitude all aligned.  They’re running workshops, putting out articles and newsletters, and doing joint consulting.  It’s in its early stages but it’s an interesting resource for those who may be or are about to experience Growing Pains.  You don’t have to do it all yourself- and you probably shouldn’t.  Check them out at