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Owning’s Great – Growing Is What Really Matters

Unlike a brick of gold bullion you can’t just own a business, you have to grow it.

A business is more biological than mineral. Healthy businesses grow.

A business is like any other complex system or organism in our universe: it is growing or it is dying. Any sense of stasis, of good enough, of a of long-term holding pattern, is an illusion.

Beyond that the simile breaks. Businesses don’t grow on their own like a tree in the forest. Businesses are grown.

To get your business from where it is to where you want it to be you must switch from owner to grower. The difference is subtle but critical.

The Business Owner Mindset

As Michael Gerber unpacks it in The E-myth the entrepreneurial myth is the belief that if you just do what you do (paint if you are a painter, bake if you are a baker) well enough, the world will beat a path to your door.

Gerber is right: that is a myth. Baking and owning a bakery are two different realities.

I shove the thing one step further.

Even owning a bakery is not enough (not that Gerber says that it is); not any more than baking is enough. Growing a bakery is what matters.

A baker focused on baking is not a business owner, she is self-employed. The self-employed person thinks “if I do a good job delivering our core product or service my business will be a success.”

That is seldom true.

The business owner’s mindset is “If I run a good business, growth will happen on its own.” That is just as untrue.

Growing is a function like management, marketing, or finances. Growing a business is a distinct discipline, different from growing sales or growing market share. Growing demands its own resources.

Delivering a great product or service matters. Managing your business matters. But neither step is enough.

The Business Grower Mindset

An owner intent on growing the enterprise understands that her job is not just to delegate the core functions of the business, it is to delegate every function of the business but one: leadership. To grow a business is to get out front and lead it; it is a move from the engine room to the wheelhouse.

Being a business grower is a bit like becoming Dr. Frankenstein: you must infuse your business with its own life. We are not looking for growth for its own sake. We want growth for a very specific reason: the business has to be able to stand on it own two legs without the daily intervention of the owner.

As business owners we are limited by our own capacities, but we have before us an enterprise with a greater collective capacity than our own. An independent enterprise enables us to jump our own shadow.

Business growers understand without an independent enterprise we are unlikely to generate enough profit to retire on. We are unlikely to have an asset we can sell for enough to support the next transition in our lives. We are unlikely to take the vacations we need. We won’t even be able to take a sick day without hurting the business.

What You Need

The tools you need as a business grower are simply stated.

The vision. The first step to becoming a business grower is to change your vision, to change how you think about your business. All of the most important parts of a great business start in our minds. The most important part of that vision is the part where you see yourself as the leader in the growth of your business.

The capital. Bootstrapping works, sometimes, but getting access to outside capital (debt and/or equity) is almost always a pre-condition to real business growth.

The network. Nothing great is done alone. In growing an independent enterprise you can’t so much as dig out the foundations without the right human talent around you.

The performance. This is the world of great performances. Creativity, resilience, empathy, flexibility, risk tolerance, and above all persistence, come to bear as you move through layers of calm and turbulence, growth and consolidation. Great leaders know how to dance. Great leaders keep dancing.

At the Great Performances Group we improve the success of small and medium business anywhere in the English-speaking world. Check us out to find out how. Read Clemens’ book “Great Performances – the Small Business Script for the 21st Century.” Leave a comment or question! A Facebook “Like” is sweet too.

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