How to Grow a Business

Grab and hold – woof.

Last week we talked about how to start a business. Growing one is a different ball game.

The #1 indicator of success in early stage business is “Speed of Execution”. Get moving. (See last week’s post.)

But the #1 indicator of success in growing a successful sustainable business that makes money while you’re on vacation is quite different. Speed of Execution is still important and always will be – always keep moving. But in the daily grind of building a business, “be the bull dog” becomes the main attribute of success. Never giving up, staying in the game. What fancy people call “Time in Market”. What I call “Being Relentless”.

Being Relentless
The bull dog was bred to help butchers bring down bulls that were essentially wild after years of living on the range. Their job was to grab the nose or face and not let go under any circumstance – no matter what. A couple of them would bring the bull to its knees with their weight essentially attached to its head, and the butcher could rush in and do his job. Bull dogs were trained to not let go or the butcher could die. That’s why we call people “bull dogs” – for their relentless focus and commitment to attach themselves to something no matter what – never letting go. Relentless.

Ships, Bridges and Parachutes
There are a lot of mechanics to building a business. None of them matter if you do not plan to be relentless and never let go. Too many business owners go into business with an escape route in place.

In the 1500s Cortez scuttled his ships to let his men know they weren’t going back – Mexico was their new home. To build and grow a business, we need to sink our ships, burn our bridges and shred our parachutes. If we have one eye on where we’ve come from and one on where we’re going we won’t have the focus, commitment and relentlessness we need to be successful. Having a foot in two worlds is dooming us to failure because when (not if) things get hard, we will take the parachute, run back across the bridge or take the next ship out. It’s human nature.

Trapeze Moments and Turtles
Ray Kroc said, “If you don’t want to take a risk, get the hell out of business.” I would add that if you don’t want to let go of the trapeze you have a death grip on, don’t pretend you want to get to the next one. Growing a business is full of trapeze moments where the only way to get where we want to go is do a full release of the present AND the past, and to hurdle ourselves toward the next thing.

But most of the time it’s the tortoise that is our best model of success. The tortoise beats the hare not because the tortoise is faster or smarter, but because the hare gets distracted with shiny objects and interesting diversions masquerading as new initiatives when the original initiative has no momentum of its own.

We kill our businesses more often by simply moving on to the next great thing before the first great thing is on auto-pilot. Sadly it’s most often simply because we got bored with the first shiny object. You can’t afford to get bored – that’s what children do. Be singular in your focus. Go after the nose of your business like a bull dog, grab it and don’t let go until you’ve wrestled it to it’s knees.

Lack of Vision = Tired
Or we get tired. You can’t afford to get tired, and if you have an utterly clear view of where you are going, you won’t. People with a clear vision for the future are motivated enough to get through the bumps and bruises and tired days. Be relentless.

I’m not smart. I’m just relentless. Being Relentless is the #1 indicator of success in the long haul of building a business, especially when combined with Speed of Execution.

Of course it’s hard. Of course money is tight. Of course you have too much on your plate. Of course nothing is going right. If you know where you are going and have a clear grasp on your Big Why, you’ll push through all that.

No Escape Hatch
Sink the ships. Burn the bridges. Shred the parachutes. If you’re not all in you’ve already built in all the excuses you need for quitting. If you’ve made that commitment, be relentless. Never give up. The smartest person doesn’t win. the fastest person doesn’t win. The biggest person doesn’t win. The last guy standing wins.

Sure, go ahead and be smart, fast and big if you need to. But do all of that with a focus on just one thing:

Being Relentless. After Speed of Execution gets you started, it’s the #1 indicator of success in growing a business that will make money while you’re on vacation.

Are you the bull dog? Do you have relentless focus and commitment to attach yourself to your business and not let go?

Be Relentless.