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How to plan for controlled growth

Systems Thinking

3 min read

One of the most common frustrations we hear from business owners is: “I just need systems.” We also hear: “I need more cash,” and, “I need more sales.”

In other words, I need growth. It’s natural to focus on growth when you’re trying to build something that can support your life, your employees and your community. But the desire for growth often pulls attention away from developing well-designed systems. The truth is, until (and unless) the business is built on a solid foundation where it can grow successfully, it can become unwieldy and cause more frustrations and failures in the future, not less.

We call this "the growth paradox."

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If you avoid systems—or avoid optimizing the systems that are already running—you risk creating a business that’s out of control. So how can you grow your business at a rate that’s appropriate for where it's at and what it can handle?

How can a business hit its growth goals?

The answer is right there in the question: Start with goals. You need to have the vision of knowing what you want from your business and the value it offers to your customers before anything else. How else will you know if you’ve hit the mark?

With vision, you’ll be able to make small course corrections to your systems and processes until you get there. This is the difference between a company that’s poised to grow and one that’s rooted in chaos.

Let’s use NASA’s first moon launch as a historic example. 

The Apollo program didn’t start in order to answer the question: "How big can we build this rocket?" It started with President Kennedy’s vision: “By the end of the decade, we will have put a man on the moon and safely returned him to Earth.” And with that, NASA got to work creating the systems to make it happen, just as a vision-driven business builds systems to achieve its goals. Because after all, it's about the balance between people and systems. People make the systems go.

The same concept applies to a business in that starting with the question “how big” will inevitably lead to frustrations. You think you just need “more sales” and “more cash,” but what’s your vision? It’s true that a business without sales doesn’t survive very long, but it’s just as futile to start—let alone grow—a business without knowing where you’re going.

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Focus on control of the business first

If it were easy and possible to just grow in profits and revenue, we would see that happening regularly in businesses. But we don’t. Quite the opposite: Companies fail to grow if the owner feels out of control. If you’re unhappy or lacking control, you simply can’t just focus on revenue.

Most businesses that are stagnant—or not hitting their growth goals—are focusing on the wrong things: owners focused on revenue and dream of (rather than plan for) seeing it grow. Conversely, businesses that are growing are not focused on revenue. They’re focused on control, on building systems that serve their customers. They intentionally design systems that produce the same consistent result, reflecting their brand in a way that’s replicable time after time.

Building systems leads to a well-run business (control), which leads to growth, which in turn leads to freedom (and happiness).

Many factors lead to business growth, and they aren’t always easy to quantify. Having the basics in place is just the beginning. Businesses that are well-positioned for growth have an existing foundation that they can customize and work with, to fine-tune into a more seamless and integrated culture and company.

So ask yourself: How can you re-prioritize control over growth in your business? Are you putting your business in a position to grow?

If you’d like to discuss your growth goals and what might be getting in the way of them, request a free session with an EMyth Coach. We’d love to connect.

EMyth client Don Kick—Request a free coaching session

EMyth Team

Written by EMyth Team

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