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As soon as I started working for myself, I felt this overwhelming pressure that to be A Successful Business, Scout had to grow.
This pressure was largely self-inflicted, but a fair chunk was external as well.
I believe that many of us decide to work for ourselves because we don’t like having people tell us what to do. But as soon as you start working for yourself, some people like to tell you what they think you should do even more.
So for a long time I’ve had this internal and external pressure to grow, and have struggled to grasp how to balance finding the quantity of work to warrant extra staff, and finding the right staff to handle the extra work, AND find the extra time to manage the staff (because I want to also do my work, because I enjoy it and it’s why I started Scout in the first place).
I tipped a toe into this type of business growth, and had “a” staff, and it was a great experience that allowed me new opportunities and challenges. It ended earlier this year, turning Scout back to just me, and I’ve grappled with what this means to the “success” of my business.
(And by “grappled with success” I mean: “have tried to not feel like a failure”).
I’ve had to take a critical look at my business strategy, goals, and offerings, and also my personal needs and goals. This has been a tough, but worthwhile experience.
It has taken a little while, but the situation has provided me with a valuable understanding of “growth”.
For some reason, I assumed “growth” was related to “size”.
Well, it can be, but it can also be so much more.
Growth is not just about getting bigger.
- establishing yourself, with stronger and longer roots (to continue the plant analogy) or a stronger foundation
- being comfortable and confident with where you are; adapting to your environment, or adapting your environment to suit you
- being clearer and more defined about who you are and what you’re doing
- stretching yourself, developing and refining your skills and offerings
- improving, and getting better, not bigger
Bonsais are a great example of this. They grow stronger and more established, while consciously having their small size maintained.
I know that growth by size comes naturally to some businesses and business owners, and others of us struggle with it.
I’m the first to admit that I’m still a work in progress, but for any other people who may be battling with “growth”, I encourage you to keep in mind the many types of growth, and focus on the one or ones that are right for you.
Feature image by William Neuheisel via Flickr. View license here.