Think of Your Business as a Bonsai Tree...
Take your average small business owner running a store and ask them what their wildest dreams for business would be. Chances are, it would probably be some version of taking their small little shop and turning it into a Herculean-sized enterprise, with dedicated employees to handle every aspect of the business. And maybe a gold plated desk and a loyal (and well-paid) servant.
So, what does all of that mean? It means your business grew right? You strive for success in business via growth. You should enter every day wanting to do more of what you do, and to do it better each time. Understanding that is not what trips up a lot of small businesses.
What stops them is unmaintained, wild growth.
Growing too quickly, or over-expanding can lead your business straight to financial ruin; trying to run an operation that doesn’t bring in enough money to sustain it. You’ll end up disappointing customers, you’ll be doing subpar work, and you’ll be at the mercy of lenders and creditors to make things work. Not a good place to be.
On the other hand, if you don’t take risks and don’t try to grow, your business stagnates. You’ll be prey to other more aggressive businesses in your industry stealing away your customer-base.
So, what’s your solution? Not stopping growth, that’s for sure. You do need to grow and you do need to progress and to continue to mature as a business in order to stay competitive and necessary in your industry.
But, as a leader, you need to recognize the difference between growth and scaling and to know which next step is appropriate for your business.
Growth, like it is in the most natural sense, is when something gets bigger and expands. A tree, with water and sunlight will grow larger. But, it in a small constrained space, maybe massive size isn’t the best idea for this particular tree.
Scaling is managed growth. Scaling is creating processes and designs to accommodate growth. Picture a Bonsai tree. Really, they’re marvels of nature: trees that mirror their large and majestic counterparts in nature but are the size of a bottle of water.
Bonsai trees are cultivated and meticulously cared for in order to keep them contained to a specific size. Done well, they’re beautiful. Done poorly, and they probably die, or overgrow their pot quickly.
Business leaders need to be careful to know when they’re ready to extend and expand, and also, when it might be better to more methodically curate and manage their growth - scaling.
Now that you know the difference, make sure you check back with us to learn how to scale, without over-extending or stagnating.