Developing a business intelligently requires the right mindset. By mindset, I mean tuning into the needs of each phase to bring a burst of the right energy to get the job done. Whether you are launching an entirely new business or driving change within an existing product, the life cycle is consistent. Here’s what you can expect when you have an idea and want to make that vision a reality.
First stop, the start-up phase where you don’t know what you are doing yet. You figure it out as you go. It takes blood, sweat, and tears. This isn’t the time for finesse- you tap into all of your brute strength to get it going. In start-up mode you are usually going by your intuition. These gut feelings are primal with a focus on survival. Anger and fear show up a lot. This phase is wired for urgency. Reason will take a back seat. Look for the signs and be ready for failure. Be willing to let in order pursue another great idea.
If you are successful and doing “the thing”, then in the next stage you identify how to do it better, faster, and cheaper. You get systems set up to execute and then measure & monitor your results. By this time, you know the process inside and out. Or better yet, you have it documented where it can be referenced. This way you can free up your mind for new challenges, like building a strong team. By using your analytical mind and being methodical, your processes become scalable, reproducible, and improvable down the road when you figure out a better way to do it. Systems are the key to successfully transition out of this phase.
SYSTEM= Something You Stick To Emphatically & Methodically
Once you get really good at doing ‘the thing”, then you can shift into high gear with strategic plans including your legacy or exit. This kind of transition may be familiar to anyone with kids in school. Around 3rd grade, students shift from learning to read to reading to learn. In business when you grow and develop an idea, first you serve the endeavor and then you can pivot so the new endeavor serves you. Like that early reader, you continuously improve your skills through experience, but the focus now is on using the skill not gaining the skill. This is the time to lead with your heart.
For mission driven entrepreneurs, getting to the last stage is the best part. How can you help more people? How can you support your community more? What does this new endeavor make possible? At this phase, you can see how you can build upon our success in lasting ways. Maybe you are thinking about leveraging it to expand your market share, drive revenue, create a new product line. You could be thinking of selling the business, or retiring and passing the business on to the next generation.
How can you get there as quickly as possible? Your journey will be effective and more efficient if you realize that each phase needs something different from you. You can divide intelligence into three centers- heart, mind, and gut. Each phase of business benefits more from a particular type.
What happens when you don’t make the shift? The innovation, daring, and gut-instincts that made your business successful as a start-up won’t be the best fit for creating systems. Logic, conscientiousness, and follow-through build reliable systems faster. The same can be said for launching your legacy, if you stay focused on profitability as you grow and scale without tying it to your purpose and the heart of your business, the culture will become soulless and employees will feel like just another cog in the machine.
I have seen many business leaders resist making that first transition from gut to mind. The thrill of creating something new is addictive. Rushing in to help clients feels so good. But focusing on the crises will keep you in crisis mode. When will you develop strong systems? You have to shift from solving problems to preventing problems.
Listen up adrenaline junkie entrepreneurs! You want to fight fires and ride to the rescue because the rush is so satisfying. Please save your strength for new ideas and uncharted problems. You need to get out of your own way.
Because I am relentlessly on your side, I’ll tell you what your team won’t- Quit starting fires so you can put them out.
Many thanks to Brad Scow and Israel Lang from IT Nation Evolve for their framework called the Entrepreneurial Journey- Muscle and Feel, Managing to Good, Team Building and Strategic Planning, and Legacy