"I was taught that the way of progress was neither swift nor easy." Madame Curie
The life of an entrepreneur comes with ups and downs. You'll have times of fast growth and consistent wins at white knuckle pace. And then you'll have setbacks, challenges and projects that take so long to get over the finish line it's like watching paint dry.
By their very nature and propensity to boredom, entrepreneurs prefer fast paced rock ‘n’ roll progress: double digit growth, new location(s), myriad of products, new team members, you name it.
If you find you've hit a lull or plateau in your company's growth, here are some questions to ask yourself to determine if it's a natural part of the growth cycle or something to be concerned about.
1. Have you shifted your focus? As a boot strapped company grows, the breadth of what only you can handle changes. If you are the star sales person and you've taken your foot off of the sales throttle to focus on infrastructure (anything from branding to systems to training a new employee), chances are you saw a slowdown in growth. Is a temporary change in your focus so you may build better infrastructure going to mean you can grow even more rapidly in the future?
2. Have you hit capacity? You need to have your finger on the pulse of what maximum productivity means in your company. The matrix of employees, equipment, inventory and working capital has to fit in relation to the sales you would like to see. If sales have slowed and every resource in your company is at its absolute limit, you need to invest in more resources in order to continue on the path of growth.
3. How do you spend your time, and how much of it is spent on things only you can do? If your goal is to aggressively grow your business, you will need to get fiercely protective of your time. Give up anything that doesn't require your attention. What fills your day that could be delegated?
Short term plateaus or dips in growth are very common for a company in growth mode. Paying close attention to the answers to these questions will help keep those slowdowns as short as possible.
To your company's growth!