When starting a company, we need to consider the type of growth we want. This may sound counterintuitive, but it’s an important step as an entrepreneur.
We often hear about the companies with quick, massive growth. We also hear about the companies that worked for years to get their product just right. But what about the in between? The companies that appeared seemingly out of nowhere five years ago and are charting impressive growth each quarter?
These different methods of growth are all valid, and some work better for companies than others. If you have the resources (personnel, capital and time) to go along with the right idea, you could reach that quick, massive growth. But will you be able to sustain it in the long term? (Or will you want to?)
Choosing Your Path for Growth
Is growth something we can choose? In a way, it is. Even with every piece of data and product testing available, we can never truly predict how the market will react to what we’re providing.
The critical piece of this, though, is to be realistic with your time and your team. When considering your company’s future, there are some elements that have already been decided for you, but there are some things you need to decide for yourself.
- Do I have the time for massive growth?
- Do I have the resources?
- Do I have the commitment and passion?
Starting a business ain’t easy. Even the companies that seemingly appeared out of nowhere experienced times of failure and doubt. But when you have that magical combination of resources, you may very well be on the right track.
Choosing to Grow Your Company Slowly
Taking your time to grow your company is OK, as well. If you answered no to one or more of the above questions, it may not be the right time to try for explosive growth. (Aside from the fact that it could always happen, regardless of what you try to do.) This is especially true if the company you’re trying to grow is on the side of your 9-5.
Add in family and other life commitments, and it’s essentially ensuring that balls will be dropped and relationships will suffer if you aim for explosive growth. So it’s OK to take a step back.
Because consistency is so important, sometimes the only option is to grow slow so that we avoid burnout and continue working on our project.
What about the founders who are methodically attacking each setback, creating a long-term plan, and taking four times as long to reach the same spot?
They’re just as valuable.
And this is when I play devil’s advocate with myself and propose a third option.
Creating Explosive but Sustainable Growth
It is possible to have the explosive growth for your company mentioned above and sustain it. In talking through this idea with a fellow entrepreneur friend, Mikhail, I realized this third option exists, though we may not realize it.
“… Obviously ‘slow and sustainable’ sounds like a safe route but what about ‘fast and sustainable’. How come no one talks about that? It’s not about whether or not slow and sustainable is better than fast massive growth but whether or not the people managing… are talented enough to sustain whatever is happening.”
Can I get some praise hand emojis here?
It comes down to a single question: Is your team (including you) capable of the resources needed to make this type of growth happen? If you have a team in place and you’re all committed to the ups and downs that come with launching a product, then go for it.
Push past the heartbreak of failure.
Learn from mistakes.
Embrace the unknown.
Deciding the Growth You Want
I recently started another side project. (As if I’m not already busy enough!) And if there’s one thing I’ve realized over the past two years, it’s important to realize two things when looking at starting something new.
- Let the idea sit for a few days, ideally more. If you’re still excited about it after waiting, then give it a try.
- Be realistic about what you want to accomplish, and the time you have to do so.
If I had the time to fully commit to this, I would accelerate the growth of each element. But since I do have other commitments, I’m starting slow, testing the market, and seeing what happens in the first few months. But I’m still starting.
I want to do this well. And in this stage of life, doing it well means taking it slow.
Maybe I’ll pivot, or maybe I’ll stay. It’s all in the resources we have.
Is one type of growth better than the other? No. This is about finding what works for you and your situation. If you can dedicate 60 hours a week to your venture and have the passion to keep going when roadblocks come, go for it. If you know your limits, but still want to try, that works, too.
Remember: Entrepreneurship isn’t one size fits all. It’s is an idea that can be shaped to what you want it to be.
Now, let’s go out and make things grow.