Growing my business was just as much of a personal journey as it was a business journey.
I did eventually achieve my goals. However, it did not come without many sleepless nights, stressing about whether or not I would have a couch to sleep on.
Looking back, I learned many crucial lessons during the business growth process.
Had I not learned these lessons during the process, I would have likely never grown my business!
Even worse, I would still be in that phase of not knowing if I would even have a couch to sleep on.
To help you grow your business with less pain than I experienced, I am sharing five of the most important lessons I learned while growing my own business.
Without these lessons, you will likely end up like I once was: doing a lot of work but having nothing to show.
1. When Everything Is Uncertain, Anything Is Possible
Growing a business is uncertain.
You never know if the economy will flip and turn your business upside down. Or, you never know if your best customer will suddenly walk out the door.
Many CEOs put off taking their business to the next level because they fear uncertainty.
When they think of uncertainty, they automatically think of the worst of what could happen.
Because their minds go to the worst, they never take steps to grow the business.
What these business owners forget is that when everything is uncertain, anything is possible!
When I say anything, I mean ANYTHING.
Who knows- uncertainty could flip your business OR create the most valuable opportunity to grow your business more than ever.
Why does your mind automatically go to the worst when you think of uncertainty?
Security and Certainty Are Myths
Many people assume being a business owner is less secure and stable than working nine to five.
When you work nine to five, at least you are guaranteed a paycheck and healthcare. Right?
Tell that to all the nine to five people who suddenly get laid off the moment people start discussing a poor economic forecast.
Security and certainty are mostly myths.
I am not saying not to put money in a savings account to have a cushion!
Instead, I am saying not to get hung up on uncertainty while growing your business.
You are kidding yourself if you think not growing your business is a more sound decision.
Certainty and security are lies we tell ourselves to stay within our comfort zone. Staying in the comfort zone might make us feel good in the short term, but it hurts in the long run.
As they say, the only certainties in the world are death and taxes!
Instead of getting hung up on certainty, accept that uncertainty is everywhere and unavoidable.
In many ways, uncertainty plays to your advantage.
Why Do You Automatically Assume the Worst?
Assuming the worst of uncertainty is a pain point created by human nature.
Human nature is programmed to assume the worst for self-protection purposes.
Prehistoric hunter-gatherers needed to assume the worst to avoid death.
Imagine if a hunter-gatherer tribe was surrounded by sabre-tooth tigers while picking berries and didn’t assume the worst.
Even though sabre-tooth tigers do not exist today, the human brain still has the same worst-case scenario programming.
When human nature defaults to the worst-case scenario mindset, make the conscious decision to flip it around.
If your mind tells you to retreat because bad things happen during uncertainty, ask yourself what positives could occur if you press forward.
Increasing your bottom line could be right on the other side of uncertainty!
Furthermore, choose to see what could be positive in uncertainty.
2. Procrastination Is Fear In Its Most Blatant Form
Regardless of what you see on social media, every CEO experiences fear.
One of the hallmark differences between CEOs who grow their businesses and those who never get their feet off the ground is whether they choose to let fear stop them.
There is one clear sign you are allowing fear to stop you from taking action: procrastination.
The more you procrastinate, the more sure you can be that fear is holding you back.
The longer you procrastinate out of fear, the longer before you take action and grow your business.
Rationalize Procrastination All You Want
The dangerous thing about procrastination is it is easily rationalize-able.
It is easy to tell yourself that you cannot work on your marketing plan because you have to pick your kids up from school. Or, it is easy to say that you cannot think about digital marketing because you need a day off.
Moreover, it is easy to procrastinate and then ignore it by rationalizing it!
That said, always be on the lookout for procrastination.
Because it is so easy to rationalize, you must always ask yourself if you are procrastinating or actually have something important to do.
Whether you consider yourself a pervasive procrastinator or not, become hyper-aware of procrastination.
Excuses Are Procrastination Manifested
Want to know how bad of a procrastinator you are?
Ask yourself how many excuses you make daily.
Excuses include everything from 'I am not ready to take action because I do not know anything about marketing strategy' to 'I do not have time'.
Sometimes, you have to look in the mirror and be realistic with yourself.
While taking a hard look in the mirror is challenging, it is the first step to not letting fear stop you.
You Will Never NOT Be Afraid
You can procrastinate all you want to avoid facing fear.
However, fear is never going to go away.
You will never NOT be afraid!
Again, even the most successful CEOs in the world still experience fear.
The difference is that successful CEOs press forward despite fear.
Instead of trying to eliminate fear, try to adapt to it. Learn to respond appropriately to fear rather than running away.
You will never not feel fear, but you do not need to allow fear to stop you from taking action.
3. Always Aim Higher Than You Think You Can Reach
Ready to take your business to the next level?
Decide the level you want to take your business to and then increase it another notch.
The idea is to up the stakes of your business growth strategy to a level that will seriously challenge you.
The more the growth strategy challenges you, the more you get out of your comfort zone.
No CEO achieved business growth within their comfort zone!
Scare Yourself a Little Bit
Imagine you are a soccer player who wants to become the best player in the world.
You can play one of three teams this weekend: The first team is not as good as yours, the second team is just as good as your team, and the third has a better track record than your team.
Which team will you choose to play?
If you definitely want to be the best soccer player in the world, you have to up the stakes.
Specifically, you have to play the team that is slightly better than your team.
Without serious challenges, you do not have a chance of improving!
Similarly, you must up the business growth stakes: Set goals and make moves that will push you out of your comfort zone to improve more than ever.
If the goals scare you a bit, you are on the right track.
Who Cares If You Do Not Get It on the First or Second Try?
If you are a medium or small business owner afraid of upping the stakes, remind yourself that it is okay not to win the first or second time.
Who says you cannot achieve your goal in the future if you do not achieve it right now?
Do not believe your mind when it says you have failed because you did not win on your first attempt.
If the stakes are high, it is alright to swing and miss a few times.
The more swings you take, the more you learn and resultantly grow.
4. Always Leave Room for Inspiration
How many times has some random person asked about your business model?
After telling them you do not have a 100% full-proof plan, how often did that random person look down on you?
Contrary to popular belief, your business plans and models DO NOT need to outline every possible detail!
Moreover, you do not need to have all the answers to start growing your business.
On the other hand, you should have a plan but leave room in those plans for inspiration.
During the business growth process, you will learn many new things. These new nuggets of knowledge will likely influence your business plans.
However, you will not have any room in your plans for inspiration if they are 100% full-proof.
Entrepreneurs of successful businesses never assume they have all the answers.
Therefore, they always leave a little room in their plans for inspiration.
Plan to the End Without Over-Planning
Every business needs a plan.
Specifically, a CEO must plan all the way up to their business vision.
For example, if you want to eradicate world hunger through your own business, then plan for it.
You do not need to have all the details planned out (nor should you want to because that leaves no room for inspiration), but you need a basic plan.
Moreover, plan all the way to the end without over-planning the details!
You Are Going to Learn Throughout the Process
You will learn a lot during the growth process.
Therefore, you need to leave wiggle room in your business plans.
For example, you will learn more about your customer base. As a result, you will need to update your content marketing strategy to fit those new insights.
Moreover, you will need to adjust your growth plans according to what you learn.
Unless you leave some wiggle room in the plans, there is no room for learning.
If you are not learning, business growth goes backwards.
Leave Room For Other Forces to Act
One major mistake many business leaders (including myself) regularly make is trying to force things to work out.
Instead of allowing the stars to align, they push extremely hard, thinking it will create results.
However, the more a business owner forces things to happen, the less likely they will get their desired result.
I am not saying not to work hard or control the process.
Instead, I am saying to put in your hard work, step back, and then allow the stars to align.
Like I said, growing a business is uncertain. Sometimes you have to have a little faith that things will work out!
Once you have done everything possible, stop, step back, and have some faith!
5. All That Matters Is You Show Up and Work
The ultimate key to success is showing up and putting in the work.
We can talk about strategy all day, but you will never achieve success unless you put in the work.
It does not matter how slow you move!
What matters is you are moving!
A hallmark mistake many CEOs make is getting wrapped up in the self-help, social media guru world. The guru world is full of inspirational quotes but little action.
Do not get so wrapped up in preparation or self-improvement that you forget to move.
Show Up and Focus on Sales
Business growth is measured in cash flow.
The more cash you generate, the more your business grows.
It does not matter how you look at it; business growth is about selling more in less time.
Whether you want to expand your target market, develop new products, or generate extra referrals from existing customers, it comes down to getting new customers to make extra cash.
That said, instead of focusing on marketing efforts, partnerships, or updating your LinkedIn status, focus 90% on SALES.
If what you are working on does not have to do with converting potential customers into paying customers, drop it and focus on selling.
Happy People Attract Customers
You can have all the selling skills in the world, but it does not matter if you have bad energy.
Whether you know it or not, you are constantly radiating energy. The energy you radiate is highly infectious and can swing the customer experience.
Ask yourself how many times somebody has walked into the room, and the energy magically shifted. Perhaps the person who walked in had an aura of joy which made everybody else joyful.
The best energy you can have in sales is one of happiness. When you are happy showing customers how you can help them, they are more likely to listen to you.
The more you show up for those customers, the stronger the customer relationships get.
Solid customer relationships are everything to B2B sales success, if you do not already know!
The stronger the relationships with current customers, the more customer loyalty you can expect.
Instead of learning new selling tactics, ask yourself what energy you radiate.
It might be negative energy holding you back from success.
Final Thoughts on Lessons I Learned From Growing My Business
While I learned many lessons from growing my business, these five are some of the most impactful.
Whether you are starting a new business from scratch or growing an existing one, take it from me.
The best way to learn how to grow your business is by making your own mistakes, and the second-best way is by learning from somebody who has done it before!
How long will you wait to grow your business to its potential?
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