We all have that phrase in business. I am going through it right now. You’re working every hour you can. You barely even have time to stop and eat. Your kids are beginning to think you are a guest in your own home. Your dog growls at you. Your spouse understands, but you can feel the relationship taking strain.
Your vision is clear. Your purpose is sculpted into the deep recesses of your mind. There is no denying what you are doing and why you’re doing it. But, damn! It sure is taking its time!
To make matters worse, you’re in a pivot. What worked for your business in the past is no longer working. You are having to do new, better and more exciting things. Your fingers feel a tingle each time they have to craft the strategy. It’s magic. It will work. But there is a single variable that simply refuses to shift or change pace regardless of how hard you work: Time.
These are the hallmarks of the growth phase of your business. This is the climb to the summit. The summit is exponential revenue growth, impressive new customer acquisition stats, an increase in customer share of wallet and panicking competitors. This is the sweet spot. But the climb… Oh, the climb is treacherous.
Research done by our VC firm, My Growth Fund, shows that this is the most critical stage for an entrepreneur. About 69% of the entrepreneurs we sampled in our research failed to make the leap during this stage. If they master this stage and its challenges, they will build a behemoth. If they don’t, they are likely to maintain a lifestyle linear-growth business. So how do you make the leap?
1. Keep working
The tendency at this stage is to want to normalise your working life. Your work/life balance — if there is such a thing — is destroyed. It’s now just work/work balance. The external pressures (family and friends) grow louder and more intense, whilst internally, you feel conflicted. You have missed too many sports days, recitals and play dates. You vaguely remember the smell of a braai.
The natural human response at this point is to say: “Enough!” Resist that. Keep working. More hours, more meetings, more client engagements, more, more, more. This is the business testing your resolve. Do not falter.
2. Focus on what matters
Volume comes with clutter and complexity. Often, at this stage of the business, things are ambiguous. They should be. It’s a growth curve, and growth is complex and ambitious. You’re testing what you thought you knew.
All this over-stimulation can weigh on you. It can clutter your mind and blur your vision. The trick is to keep sight of what matters. What is crucial to the growth of the business? Those are the activities and tasks you should be concerned with.
3. Delegate and diligently manage
If you’re anything like me, you hate to delegate because you hate having to spend time telling a person how they should have done it and what standard of work you expect.
Unfortunately people are not computers onto which you can simply upload software. People are dynamic and temperamental.
Here you need to be a hybrid of a manager and a leader. As a leader you must give your people a view of the destination, and get them to believe in your vision.
When your people perform, celebrate them. However, when people consistently perform below par, you must get rid of them. Nothing demotivates star performers more than a manager who tolerates non-performance.
Related: Growth Hacking Simplified In 4 Steps
4. Don’t rush decisions
Every day, a new critical decision needs to be made, and each one is built on the one preceding it. The temptation to rush to a decision is almost too big to resist. But remember the stages of decision-making: Information gathering, data testing (for veracity), analysis, scenario simulation (testing different hypotheses) and then finally actual decision-making.
Don’t rush or skip parts of this process. Growth is tough. That is why so few entrepreneurs have the courage to pursue it.