3, 2, 1, Blast Off: The Growth Paradox

This is the second installment in helping you develop and design clear systems. Click here for Part 1, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6.

“By the end of the decade we will have put a man on the moon and safely returned him to Earth.” —President J.F. Kennedy, 1962

In my first article in this series on systems, I introduced you to the idea that as the owner and entrepreneur in your business, you are also the systems engineer. In this second article, I’m proposing that in solving frustrations with better designed system solutions, we often start in the wrong place.

I shared a common frustration we hear from business owners: “I just need systems.” We also hear, “I need more cash” and “I need more sales.” While it’s a natural desire to focus on growth, until (and unless) the business is built on a solid foundation where it can successfully grow, your business will cause more frustrations in the future, not less. We call this the growth paradox.

Knowing what you want from your business, the value your business offers to your customers, and making those small course-corrections until you get there, is what makes the difference between a company that’s poised to grow and one that’s rooted in chaos.

Let’s use my moon-shot story to illustrate the point:

We’ll start with the assumption that you want to fly to the moon.

How fast do you have to be travelling to leave the Earth’s atmosphere? What sort of thrust can your rocket’s motor deliver? How much fuel do you need to achieve the appropriate speed and cover the distance? How big does your rocket need to be to carry all that fuel?

The Apollo program didn’t start with trying 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 business that’s driven by a vision builds systems to achieve its goals.

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—not to mention grow—a business without knowing where you’re going.

Knowing what you want from your business, the value your business offers to your customers, and making those small course-corrections until you get there, is what makes the difference between a company that’s poised to grow and one that’s rooted in chaos.

Cash is just the rocket fuel in your business. It’s not the destination.

When we ask business owners about their biggest opportunity and greatest challenge, not surprisingly they overwhelmingly name growth. This led us to ask:

Does it really make sense to focus on growth, or is there more foundational “getting your house in order” work that comes first?

There are many factors that lead to business growth and they aren’t always easy to quantify. We’ve learned that having the basics in place is just the beginning. Next-level businesses are customizing and ‘working’ with what they have to build a more seamless and integrated culture and company.

By working with thousands of business owners we found that:

  • control, and
  • happiness, along with...
  • business growth, and
  • profits, are deeply connected.

But doesn’t a business owner’s happiness and control come from business growth and profits?

If it were easy and possible to just grow in profits and revenue, we would have found businesses that were doing so. But we found almost no businesses for which this was true. In fact, we’ve seen that the reverse is true. Companies fail to grow if the owner feels out of control. If you’re unhappy or out of 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 focus on revenue inside of their business and dream of 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, and intentionally designing systems that produce the same consistent result, reflecting their brand, replicated time after time.Revenue > Control > Freedom > Control > Revenue > Freedom

EMyth Coaches work with you to help create a unique roadmap for your business that provides a framework for control and growth in your business. The principles that guide our process for doing the right thing in the right order are the same. Building systems leads to:

Getting your house in order (control), leads to…

Growth, leads to...

Freedom.

Money alone doesn’t lead to happiness and we’ve all heard apocryphal stories of unhappy millionaires. Feeling in control of your business isn’t going to guarantee happiness either but it’s a step in the right direction. This is the answer to the growth paradox.

Between this article and the next, spend time thinking about how you can re-prioritize control over growth in your business. Are you putting your business in a position to grow?

If this article inspired you to think differently about systems in your business, let me know. I’ll reply to your comments and make space in the rest of this series to go deeper and provide you with system solutions.

In the next article, we’ll take another step in the right direction, introducing a process to solve problems, create systems and develop your business.

Topics: Strategic Planning, Leadership, Systemization

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Nick Lawler

Written by Nick Lawler

Nick is an EMyth Coach and the Coach Network Global Ambassador. He was the Chef/Proprietor of a hotel, restaurant and events business in the UK for twelve years before becoming an EMyth Coach. His articles focus on making the transition from technician to business owner.

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