What to Obsess About in a Maturing Business
You found a viable product or service. Then you grew the business into a stable, healthy profit-generator. Now what?
A company owner approached me a couple months ago to get help with his business. When we talked it was apparent his business had grown to a nice size, providing a good income for him and his employees.
When I asked what he wanted to accomplish in our one2ones he said, “I need a reason to keep going. I’m making good money and the business is doing a few million a year, but I can’t seem to grow it, and don’t seem to have the clarity I need to move forward.”
Make Meaning, Not Money
The Industrial Age taught us the lie that if you got money, that money would naturally give you a great lifestyle. “If I just had a million bucks life would be great.” No, it wouldn’t. Business owners who work to make money rarely make a lot of it because making money is not an empowering vision. Those who chase something bigger than just making money are much more likely to make a lot of it. We call that a Big Why. A Big Why moves you from Survival right through Success to Significance.
Startup and growth are about viability and money, sacrificing time and present significance to get there. This was my sixth business (I’ve started another one since). When I started it, I worked seven days a week the first year, then six the second, then five the third. But once we had a viable product and the money was coming in, I wasn’t done. It was now about ensuring that the business created both time and money for me (and others in the business), because it is the combination of these two resources that set us up to create Significance in the world around us.
The Poverty Mindset
Survival is a very strong instinct for starting a business. I’ve got a mortgage to pay. The fascinating thing is that most business owners live in survival throughout their entire 40 year career – poverty mindset – always living at the end of their two main resources – time and money.
They don’t have a Big Why, a reason to grow their business, so if they happen to make money, they just buy a bigger house or more toys to ensure they are completely out of time and money, and then the need to survive kicks back in to help then grow the business to support the new poverty level they’ve set for themselves.
The Big Why Mindset
Business Owners with a Big Why take paying their mortgage as a given, it’s just background noise for getting something done much bigger than making money. A Big Why is so motivating that it makes you want to get out of bed even when you’re not making money, and it drives everything you do.
Another client of mine said, “I knew when I had my Big Why, because it had me.” He went on to explain that once he had something much bigger than just making money to drive him forward, that he found himself making every decision, from buying a copier to opening a new location, based on whether it would get him to his Big Why or not.
The Big Why – something you can never check off as done
A Big Why is a goal you can never check off as completed – being the best parent, solving poverty, giving every month to a charity, making an ongoing impact in the world of technology (Bill Hewlett’s Big Why for starting HP). Those who have made the biggest impacts always do it with a Big Why, not with a desire to make money.
What is Your Big Why
What is your Big Why, that motivator that you can never check off as completed? Every great business owner has one. If you’re wondering why your business is stagnant or that you’re just going through the motions, don’t look “out there”. Look inside and ask yourself, “What is my Big Why”?
If you do that, you’re much more likely to grow a very successful business that leaves a legacy that will endure. If you don’t get Utter Clarity on your Big Why, you’re likely to stagnate and go through the motions.
Run and grow your business with a Big Why. It’s a lot more fun.