Regardless of what line of work you’re in, it seems like most business owners today have a similar daily routine: Coffee first, everything else second. Then, whenever possible, comes meditation or personal quiet time. Let’s of course fit in some work-out, or at least a solid attempt at one. A healthy breakfast is the natural next step. After all this, we’ll do a quick dive into the day.
I do this every day.
Once I get to work, though, everything is non-stop. Phone calls, meetings, pitches, sales review, hiring, operations, admin work, and who can forget about emails, which now has become a lethal Pandora’s box for every working professional. Keeping up with emails is like running after two jaguars going in opposite directions.
Our day can be so full that even carving in free-time is a challenge. Ever had your friend ask to see if they can meet up for lunch or dinner; and then you look at your already exploding calendar, and you realize it might be a couple of weeks before you can sit with your so-called best friend? Your mom may call you and you’ll find that they may have to wait even longer.
While everyone is hustling, you try to keep up.
But I wondered: what qualifies as a good growth rate?
Growth Depends on Time Spent
When a child is growing, it’s atypical for us to inject growth hormones unless there’s a legitimate reason to do so. It’ll also be odd if upon our twilight years, we decide that our height needs to continue to shoot up.
Should business and life adopt a similar approach of allowing time to dictate rate?
Neil C. Churchill and Virginia L. Lewis illustrated in their Harvard Business Review study, “The 5 Stages of Small Business Growth,” the various stages of business as it relates to time. The study indicates that as the business grows, the growth rate often varies depending on age of business.
Using this principle, the following scenarios can happen, among others:
- Initially, Business A grows slower than Business B, as it might have spent more time building a bigger and stronger foundation.
- As time progresses, though, Business A may begin to pick up speed, passing B at the point where they are head to head.
- Just when you think that Business A looks like it will win the race, though, the tides may begin to turn again in favor of B.
This might mean that growth is, however, natural, fast, and slow as time allows.
Rush and Fall at Your Own Risk
Jessica Stillman supports this viewpoint in her 2012 Inc. article “Slow Business: The Case Against Fast Growth.” Unlike popular belief, Stillman presents the idea that perhaps growth should not be rushed.
When I think about rushing things, I think of a toddler who is trying to keep up with her siblings. More often than not, she will trip, fall, and stumble. This is not inherently bad, obviously, as much of learning is done in failures. But the environment in which she falls needs to allow for the injury to not be fatal.
Today, ‘growing too fast’ leads to the all-too-common death of business.
And yet, when I am discussing ways to grow more deliberately, I don’t always love the image of the slow-and-steady tortoise.
I very much prefer the image of a diamond.
Maybe even a rare faceted green diamond, which grows over many years in constant, brilliant heat, according to George E. Harlow in The Nature of Diamonds.
The result of this natural process is the overwhelmingly radiant gem. It’s certainly one of the reasons why in our culture, the diamond ring is a symbol of hope for a lasting marriage.
Let Time and Experience Grow Your Business
Growing a business, I think, should not be too different than growing a diamond. Consistency over brilliant heat goes further than tiny little sprints that will only burn you out.
To create lasting, rare value, there are some things we can do, like:
1. Play to Our Strengths
The hype of self-improvement is that you have to be skilled in all aspects of your life. Running a business is no different than making the perfect pizza.
While it’s great to be able to make everything from scratch, improve upon the recipe every step of the way, and clean up after everything when you’re done, isn’t it just as enjoyable to be able to pick up a pre-made dough and a highly-rated sauce and simply wow everyone with a game night that you’re so good at leading?
Play to your strength first, then get help for the rest of it.
2. Get Ready for Opportunities
If the doors to opportunities have not yet opened for you, spend most of the time on yourself, developing your skill and perfecting your craft.
When the doors do open one day, you can walk in not only with ease, but with confidence and with less chance of tripping over.
3. Time Will Pass Anyway
Why not go along for the ride?
Kids really are the most compelling examples of this. When they’re on a roller coaster, they’d buckle in and enjoy the ride. Those who are too busy trying to unbuckle and jump onto another ride before the ride safely stops need to be aware that they’re losing out on all the fun.
Obviously there are exceptions to the rule. But in general, longevity cannot be built over night. So, if someone gives you the option of growing at lightning speed only to crash and burn versus growing at a sustainable slower rate to yield results as radiant as a diamond, which would you choose?