a close up of an egg timer - representing timeline and consistency. time pressure in business and being reliable by having a business plan and personal structure

In this piece, I want to share one of the key lessons we as entrepreneurs generally learn too late, so that you can be both forewarned and forearmed. 

We can all be forgiven for taking on too much stress and rushing things out. We’re presented with so many overnight success stories online, but in my experience, I’ve never really met anyone who’s achieved this level of overnight success. And anyone who has achieved this hasn’t approached it in an overly rushed or stressed manner.

Instead, it comes from a calm, steady and calculated approach where the entrepreneur commits themselves to simply doing the best they can day by day. They improve where necessary, slowly but steadily growing to the point where results start to compound and exponential growth takes place.

Speed isn’t everything. A slow and steady approach to business is so much more effective than an overly rushed, overenthusiastic approach.

Don’t be afraid to slow down and actually enjoy your early entrepreneurial days. Here’s why.

Female entrepreneur discussing business growth on phone

When it comes to business growth, slow and steady wins the race

In aspiring entrepreneurs, I see a common inclination to eagerly want to get stuck in, get going and get working. There’s an itch there just to launch

Key things such as a solid business growth plan or market research can get forgotten about in favour of getting lost in the initial excitement of the launch (which I’ve previously talked about In some of my videos).

So many entrepreneurs just want to get going that they almost force success and try to move too fast at a pace that’s not actually viable or realistic. That’s where mistakes happen and where they risk selling themselves short. They inevitably end up going round in circles.

So, how can you avoid the same happening to you?

Four years ago, I started to interview entrepreneurs with this in mind. In one year I ended up speaking to over 100 people, both young and old – and I’ve done the same ever since as part of my podcast series

The podcast sets out to learn from business owners, probe their methodology and seek wisdom from their lived experiences to uncover valuable lessons for entrepreneurs.

I find it absolutely fascinating.

The one common secret to business success

Of those successful entrepreneurs I spoke to, they all had one thing in common: they take things slowly when it comes to growing a business

Abraham Lincoln once said if he had five hours to cut down a tree, he’d spend four hours sharpening the axe. And this is so appropriate to the context of business. Most will simply pick up the axe and start hacking at the tree and inevitably make a mess of it. There’s no thought-out strategy, whereas if you sit back and proactively plan your approach, it makes the end work so much easier.

A few years ago, researchers at at UC Berkeley and Stanford explored the growth of more than 3,000 startups. And the most common cause of failure?

Premature scaling.

So what did the most successful people do when starting out?

Many of them spent time thinking about the area of business they wanted to get into and looked at several other businesses in the same vein. Competitor analysis of other businesses helped them make sure that whatever they were committing themselves to was the right path. What was working for these other similar businesses? What wasn’t?

Business owners talking about business growth in office

Learning the skills of a successful entrepreneur

Once these entrepreneurs had ensured they were on the right path, they then found successful business leaders in their industry whom they admired. Instead of jumping straight in to do the same themselves, they took time to first serve an apprenticeship and really study what made them so successful.

Now, this might not seem like the most likely path in business, but the experience is invaluable for learning the skills of a successful entrepreneur. 

And learning from others is something I believe gets all too often overlooked. Albert Bandura’s social learning theory explores how we constantly learn via “observation, imitation and modeling”, which is something we’ve been doing ever since we were babies learning how to walk and speak.

The best entrepreneurs realise that learning from somebody at the top of their game will accelerate their business journey in the long run. Learning from successful business leaders who inspire you is one of the single best ways to give yourself the inspiration and the leg-up you need when starting out.

Make more time for learning and you’ll reap the rewards in the long run.

Image of potted plants to represent business growth

Successful startups launch slowly

When launching a startup, the best entrepreneurs start slow. 

An apprenticeship will have taught them valuable lessons, along with the wisdom and experience of a respected expert. This apprenticeship would have provided first-hand evidence of the success that can happen if they allow themselves to slow down.

Experienced entrepreneurs know that everything has its natural growth curve. They don’t try and force it – they go with the flow. If you’re ignoring organic business growth and looking for shortcuts, you’ll find yourself running before you can walk. For example, perhaps you’re already thinking ahead and throwing money at marketing agencies before you’ve even got your messaging right. If you don’t have a business growth plan and a marketing strategy in alignment with it, you’ll be wasting that budget too early. 

These things need and deserve time.

Instead of rushing ahead and getting too into details, focus on improving the business by just 1% each day rather than 100% overnight. See how much more manageable that sounds? Remember, little steps will all lead to big results – plus you’ll have a lot more time to iterate and improve along the way.

By having the time to make these little improvements, your business will eventually get that exponential growth curve that you were trying to force in the very beginning – only at a much more manageable and realistic pace.

A final point about business growth…

My take-home message for you is that far too many people are trying to race ahead on their business journey. They end up making too many avoidable mistakes and in worst-case scenarios, some even experience entrepreneurial burnout. 

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Embracing that natural growth curve of a business means that entrepreneurs can relax into the flow of that curve, take things as they come, and do themselves justice. And ultimately, they will succeed (and enjoy the journey, too).

And you can, too. As a business and life coach, I’m here to help support you using the lessons I’ve talked about today – get in touch and find out how we could work together to make that success a reality.

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