Question: What’s the secret sauce to managing a well-oiled machine while in the Growth Stage?
Answer: Don’t run a well-oiled machine in the Growth Stage!
It is not seeking perfection, but instead being comfortable with imperfection. As you grow you will want your baby to be the vision of loveliness you thought it would be when you birthed the IDEA in your dorm room years ago. Now the idea is a reality and you will realize that that baby screams and poops all the time. It’s not an Ann Getty image of a baby in a flower basket. It’s a hot mess.
Be OK with the mess. I’ve found that when I get caught up on focusing on minor imperfections, I get down on myself and then it carries over to my team. This hurts our progress because we become consumed by the 30% that is not perfect and forget about the 70% that is working great. This is HORRIBLE for growing your business. Focus shifts and the good things suffer because we are worrying about getting the 100% perfection mark; the A+.
I never got an A+ in school. I got a lot of C’s, but I still have an MBA. I still learned. I am way more successful than most of my graduating class. Even back then, being OK with the mess translated to greater success as I grew. I just had a better definition of success than the Education Industrial Complex tried to create for me. Corporate Finance stumped me and I never figured out how to calculate an IRR (Finance Jargon) by hand, but I knew I didn’t have to. I needed to network with other students, go hear great entrepreneurs speak at on-campus events, and work on my real estate business. The 30% that I lost on a grade, I made up for in what mattered.
You will never make everything perfect, but here are 3 hacks to be able to focus the majority of your time on making the good better while still addressing the problems.
- Dedicate EXTRA Time to the Problem: I am not an early riser but I get up early. For me that means waking up at 5:00am, 2-3 times per week and heading into the RE360 World Headquarters (aka my office). I take the at least half of this extra productivity time (before 9am) to focus on things that are bad. No one bothers me and I can focus on tough decisions, analysis, and implementing plans of action to chip away at these issues. Then the rest of the day can be focused on grinding and making money on the sunnier side of entrepreneurship like growth and making a difference in my community…
- The LIST: List your problems on a white board, on Evernote, or whatever you use so they are in front of you. Scratch them off, don’t erase them, as you chip away at them each day. Yes the list will keep growing or staying the same length as more imperfections are created, but you will be able to see your progress. Entrepreneurs are always looking forward but we forget to stop and smell the roses and realize we are fixing these problems. Yes, we are just making more problems by growing our company, but THAT IS A GOOD THING. Recognizing the things I have fixed gives me the sense of accomplishment I need to not get overwhelmed by the things I don’t yet know how to fix. I see this and say, “I did it in the Past and I will do it again in the future.”
- Screw it: Analyze if it even makes sense to repair the imperfection. Do a basic Cost/Benefit analysis and if the cost is greater than the benefit then move that to the bottom of the list or if it is totally inconsequential then erase it. For example: I would like all my company trucks to be painted the same color and have logos on them because it would be a nice image to project. It will cost a bunch of money. The benefit is I will feel pride in seeing my fancy trucks driving around with my logo on it. That will translate into little to no economic value to anyone. Therefore my trucks will remain all different colors, a little bit rusty and dirty, and they will be that way until I have time to “play” business instead of growing a business.
So, keep moving forward and do not get caught up on these minor imperfections that are not that important.