Small Business Growth: Is Yours a Toddler, a Teen or a Wise Elder?

How ‘old’ does your business feel?

Not you – your business. It’s an odd question, I know, but I’ll bet you knew the answer immediately. Think about it. If your business was a living, breathing being, how old would it be?

All business go through different stages of growth over time. And yours might feel like it’s all grown up. If it’s been around for a long time, it might even feel like a wise, experienced grandparent who’s been a part of your life forever.

Many of the entrepreneurs I coach are in start-up though, or they’ve only been at it for a few years. They’ll tell you that their businesses feel more like toddlers, or maybe teens.

Not sure which is harder to handle. :-) 

Some start-ups are little more than an idea for a business that’s never existed before. Their entire focus is on getting that baby born – getting it up off the ground and on to its wobbly feet, where any income at all is cause for celebration.

Others, though, feel like they’re raising teenagers. Their business has a mind of its own.

They have a pretty solid customer base, some basic processes in place, and even decent income. But the business is unruly, unpredictable, exhausting to manage.

And stubborn.

In fact, sometimes, it flat out refuses to grow up.

Is your business growing? Exciting? Fun to run? Do you feel like it’s expanding and becoming something beautiful right before your eyes?

If not, this could be the problem.

Could be that your business is holding back, playing small. It may be secretly terrified of all that it could actually become – much like that sweet teenager you actually have to push to go get her driver’s license.

Growing up, after all, is pretty scary sometimes. :)

I actually DO see your business as a living breathing thing. It has energy, a soul, it’s own place in the world. And when that energy feels stuck, you’re being called to get things moving again.


Here are 3 ways to do exactly that.

1. Do some CLEAN UP work.

Even when they’ve been at it a while and already had success, most of my clients start here. This means taking a close work at what’s working, and what’s not. 

How are you delivering your service, connecting with clients, or building your brand? How are collections going? Is your team working together?

What is the single greatest source of stress in your business right now, and what would ease that?

2. Do some CLARITY work.

When Howard Schultz found himself propelled into the CEO role unexpectedly at Starbucks, the first thing he did was go away on a personal retreat. He wanted to get really clear about where the company was, and where he wanted it to go.

What would happen if you set aside uninterrupted time to do some creative vision work?

What do you really want this child to be when she grows up?

And what’s your very next step towards making that a reality?

3. Send your business to college.

Parents go to great lengths to prepare their kids for the real world. Even when money is tight, they’ll find a way to get the soccer cleats, piano lessons or tutors they trust to get their kids to the next level.

And that often means sending them to college – where an investment in “higher education” leads to a better quality of life for their kids.

Your business is no different. As with any stage of business growth, sometimes, you have to invest in ‘something bigger’ to get it to the next level, too.

Over the past several years, I’ve put tens of thousands of dollars into my business. I’ve invested heavily in my own education as an entrepreneur, hiring some of the best coaches and teachers out there.

But I’ve also invested in the infrastructure of my business. That means building a team, buying the tools, and hiring the help I need to do things well.

I never felt like I could afford to do what I was doing – but I did it anyway. And my income has risen in direct proportion to my willingness to make those investments.

Does that mean every decision has been the right one? Not at all. But every decision has added to my understanding of what it takes to be successful in one way or another. And I know it.

Do you need to clean up? Clear up?

Or step up by investing in your business this year?

You may also like:

5 Secrets to Growing a Successful Business
How to Tell When It’s Your Time to Grow
When It’s Time to Grow: Breathe, Believe & Build.
How to Know When You’re Ready to Grow


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