One of my favorite books when I was growing up was “Harold and the Purple Crayon.” With the stroke of a purple crayon, Harold designs the life he imagines. When he wants to go for a walk, he draws a moonlit path. When he’s hungry, he draws himself a lunch. When he becomes scared of his own illustrated dragon, he creates an ocean and a sailboat to escape just in time.
Harold uses his creative thinking to escape from life’s corners that constrain him.
People with big vision often find themselves painted into a corner. We set upon our path, often underestimating or unaware of the obstacles that may get in our way of progress. Or, we over-commit, and find ourselves completely overwhelmed with what we have promised to others. Wouldn’t it be great if we could draw ourselves an ocean and a sailboat, and simply sail away to a far-away land?
We can’t do that, but when our backs are up against the wall, we can create additional paths to lead us out of our corners. We can transform our corners into a doorway.
Entrepreneurship is all about calculated risk. We can create strategic plans, implement repeatable processes, hire the top people, and engage with the best customers. However, the only way to grow to the next level is to bite off more than you can chew, and pray you don’t choke.
I know the feeling of biting off more than you can chew. Four years ago, Information Experts made the strategic decision to invest in a newly formed Joint Venture (JV) to pursue a multi-billion dollar Department of State program. The risk was ridiculously high but the possible reward was astronomical.
I’m working with a great company who’s committed to moving to the next level of growth. The owner/founder has done a very good job of establishing himself as a highly dependable and reputable subcontractor, but wants to triple the company size, and evolve into a prime contractor over the next 3 years. We have a lot of work to do. To make this pivot, we have to build his infrastructure, implement required processes, and align with the right people.
One of our most immediate tasks is to evaluate and shift the mindset and commitment of his current team. Growth can’t happen alone. It takes a village to build a business.
It’s all coming back to me….the early days of building a business, and laying a solid foundation to support healthy growth. I find myself with lengthy to-do lists that require many sets of helping hands. It’s tempting to simply throw new tasks over the fence to those that have already proven to be experts as I grow Successful Culture.
But wait. I’ve been down this road before with Information Experts. I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, and then tossed the overflow to a team mate. Eager to please, they say yes, even though my new request is outside of their core expertise… setting us both up for disappointment.
I’ve had a slew of podcast interviews over the last few weeks, and virtually all of the hosts have asked me what I think is the necessary ingredient for continued business growth. I speak from a place of making mistakes, and from getting things right over the last 20 years.
The three things I believe companies need to survive are a market niche, relevancy, and a mindset of greatness. I’ve named them in order of difficulty.
Values dictate every major decision and action in an organization – from the clients that a company engages, to the people that a company hires, to seemingly simple behaviors such as leaving a door open or closed. Values determine our behavior when others are not around to watch us. They are the core of integrity – which manifests when values are integrated with our actions. Personally and professionally, they frame the most important aspects of who we are, and what matters to us.
One of my coaching clients called me this week, asking for advice on where to find a great sales rep. She’s launching a start-up that has been in the works for months, and is obviously anxious to get her product to the market. My advice to her was to look in the mirror. That’s where she would find her best sales rep.
I came across a compilation of 19 shoestring-budget strategies that will help you connect with your target audience without going broke – exactly what a small business needs to expand their presence and stay financially healthy.
Here are my suggestions to move these ideas to implementation.
1: Pick three out of the list and focus on them. If you try to tackle the entire list, you will do a mediocre or poor job for all of them. Then, once those are done, move to the next three. The greatest ideas fail at implementation because we bite off more than we chew.
2: Determine what you can outsource, and what you need to manage yourself. For example, if you decide to join a Chamber, you personally need to cultivate those relationships, so ensure you have enough time to be present in the organization. If you decide to write a blog, you need to build your editorial calendar and write your blogs, but can outsource the mechanics of posting and sharing.
As a small business owner, deciding how and where you will dedicate your very limited time is essential to your success.
3: Finally, if an idea isn’t working for you, pivot quickly. Drop the tactic and move on. It’s all about figuring out what works best for you at this point in time.
Here is the link to the complete presentation.
Here are the tips:
What can you do between now and January 1st to ensure your 2014 is your best year yet?
One of my most impactful success strategies is having accountability partners. I have two accountability partners. One keeps me on track with all aspects of my life… My entire to-do list for Information Experts, Successful Culture, my writing, my media strategy, my family, my friendships, and my health & wellness. My whole life is organized according to the spreadsheet I deliver to her in preparation for our weekly Thursday morning calls.
My second accountability partner keeps me on track with my Successful Culture growth strategy. We learn together, build our business plans together, share best practices, put deadlines in place for growth milestones; and we are even planning a series of co-branded live events in 2014. We have all-day monthly planning meetings, as well as twice-monthly phone check-ins.
As much of the country is blanketed in snow and ice, this is a perfect time to pause… to take a deep breath, notice the beauty of our surroundings, and slow down. Yes, the snow wreaks havoc on our well-assembled plans. School is canceled, day-care is closed, meetings and appointments are pushed aside, our travel plans are either rescheduled or delayed.
Fortunately for most of us, however, the winter weather is nothing more than an inconvenience.
Two of my favorite things about the snow (besides snow angels) are the way it falls in solitude, and the visual effect it has on our landscape. Both of these gifts are actually deceptive, for beneath the snow lies Spring. While we are in the moment of the winter solstice, we shift focus away from the fact that just beneath our feet, and also just above our heads is growing grass and budding trees & flowers. Even in the stillness and solitude of a snowstorm, Spring life continues to push forward.