There’s often such an emphasis on growth in business that it’s easy to forget about the importance of sustainability and optimization. These two things are critical to the long term success of any size business.
Many of my clients come to me with a successful business that is making around the $100,000 mark. They’ve laid the foundations they need to get consistent revenue and they have an established structure for working with clients or customers.
However, they are often completely maxed out and overwhelmed with the day-to-day operations. In this state of overwhelm, they just can’t see how any more growth is possible. They know they need to get ops off their plate but they aren’t even sure where to start.
In most cases, they were focused so intently on hitting the six figure mark that once they do, they aren’t sure how to maintain it. And, they certainly aren’t sure how to continue to grow past it.
And yet, most of the advice they’ve been given is to strive for more and more growth. More revenue, more followers, more reach, more content — all of this is sold to business owners as the answer to their overwhelm.
But, the reality is, for long-term viability, businesses need an ebb and flow of periods of growth and periods of stability. As a business owner, this alternating focus will help you reach even bigger milestones, and often in shorts periods of time.
#1 Focusing on sustainability helps prevent burn out
One of the essential benefits of alternating between periods of growth and sustainability is to prevent burnout. Growth often requires substantial hustle, which means long hours and little time off. While this can be manageable for short periods time it isn’t realistic to keep this pace forever. When we try, it very often results in burnout where we crash and aren’t able to recover for weeks or even months.
This can lead to losses of any growth and progress that were gained.
Rather than a single-minded focus on growth, alternating that with periods of focusing on sustainability helps prevent burnout and maintain the gains you worked so hard for.
This is the rationale behind organizing your projects and goals around 12 weeks sprints, followed-up by 1-2 weeks of a measured break.
As tempting as it can be to go, go, go and focus solely on growth, there will come a time where a break for some maintenance is necessary. It’s so much better to schedule that intentionally rather than be forced to recover from a complete crash and burn.
#2 Take time to focus on efficiency
Another essential reason to alternate periods of growth and maintenance is to allow time to focus on optimization and efficiency. Both of these allow you to better serve your clients or customers. This emphasis gives you the space to create the automation, systems, and processes that you need to take even better care of your customers with less time and effort.
Once these are in place, you will find that you’ve made the space for additional growth. And, you’ll often find the growth process to be far less painful with these support mechanisms in place.
#3 Evaluate and pivot as needed
The constant pursuit of growth can also backfire because it makes any evaluation of where the business is going more difficult. Many times what we initially set out to achieve needs to shift and change along the way. But, if we don’t pause to reassess the current state of affairs, it becomes very hard to see that.
By shifting the focus to maintenance, even for a little bit, you allow the necessary space to assess where you are now. This can then lead to determining the best way forward to the next step. This may be exactly what you already have planned but it could be something slightly ( or entirely) new.
Any course correction you need to make along the way will be so much easier and more valuable than waiting until you’ve already gone off in the wrong direction for months.
Many business owners resist changing the plan because they see it as a failure. It is better though to course correct as needed and is instead a valuable part of the growth process!
#4 And don’t forget the human element
Periods of focusing on sustainability also allow you to assess your outside life as well. So often, we set goals that don’t take into account the realities of our lives. Or, those realities can change unexpectedly so we need to reconsider how our lives impact our business choices.
There is truly no point in attaining a milestone or goal only to realize it isn’t compatible with the life you want.
So, building in periods of sustainability and optimization prevent burnout and allow for the time and space to become more efficient and evaluate where you’re going.
All in all, these all help create a business with better long term viability and success.