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3 Questions Before You Start Your Next Business Growth Phase

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3 Questions Before You Start Your Next Business Growth Phase

Shh…it’s a secret. Growing your business can be intimidating.It may be time to release your next Big Idea into the marketplace. Perhaps you realised that just staying in business requires growth. You might feel excitement, doubt or any number of emotions. Hopefully, you have crafted a plan that gives you a step-wise system to follow. In my last post, I recommended reviewing your strategic plan so you had a clear framework for your business. This creates a guide as your small business moves ahead.

But there is one area that isn’t examined as thoroughly. Many a great plan for growth has succeeded or died due to the business owner’s ability to manage his or her thoughts and feelings. Our emotions and ability to manage them highly influences how well we lead our businesses. The things that derail us, inspire us or motivate us are activated when we initiate a growth plan. Growth leads to change and change is unsettling. It stands to reason that we have thoughts and feelings about our growth initiatives.

No matter what is driving the growth, there are three questions to answer.

For someone leading and managing a small business, the stuff that gets most in the way is not the technical skills. No, the stuff that gets in the way is in our heads. Even psychological research over the last 30 years indicates that it makes a difference whe n you know what’s going on in your head. This is true even if you discover that your motivations are coming from desperation, boredom or something not quite acceptable or noble.

1. What do you expect?

Expectations are funny things. When we don’t meet them, we experience feelings of loss. For most established small business owners, expectations are realistic. But…occasionally we get carried away with them. We want so much for everything to go well.

Begin by writing down everything you expect from your growth phase.  Read it back to yourself and notice which expectations sound realistic and which ones reflect your hopes, dreams and wishes. Avoid judging which ones are right or wrong. The point of writing out your expectations is to have a conversation with yourself. What do you hope to gain from pursuing this plan? Did you know this before you wrote down your expectations?

2. What is motivating you to start a new growth phase?

Your motivations are an important piece of this. It may be that this growth phase is an intentional stepping stone to a bigger stage. It may be that you think you’re supposed to grow your  business. Differentiating between desire to lead your small business to greater sophistication and the sense that it’s somehow expected is very important. I’ve worked with clients who discovered that bigger wasn’t necessarily better. They learned that it is more manageable and likely to succeed when growth is coupled with choice.

3. Why now?

This last question is about timing. What is about now that makes implementing this growth phase important? One of my clients answered this question when her business attracted an influx of clients. She realised that hiring more staff was the only way she could make sure these clients were served well while she became CEO-like and maintained her focus on her overall strategic plan.  For you, it may be about personal changes (interests, life events), market changes (new opportunities arise, ideal customer changes) or industry changes (product delivery innovations, new trends).

It’s a conversation with  yourself

The three questions are an opportunity to create space between your thoughts, feelings and actions. The act of writing down your answers and reading them back to yourself makes it possible to introduce objectivity. You may affirm what is already true about you. Or you may discover an aspect that you haven’t paid as much attention to previously. By taking the time to do this conversation before you start your next growth phase, you reduce the likelihood that you will sabotage your efforts and give yourself options for how to manage your emotions and thoughts.

What other questions do you see established small business owners asking? How do they relate to growth initiatives?


Growing a business locally or internationally takes a different mindset; the CEO Mindset. Elli St.George-Godfrey, a behavioral economics coach, international expansion consultant and founder of Ability Success Growth, uses her 3 Keys Coaching process to help business owners and executives in the US, Ireland and Northern Ireland to unlock the CEO within. Under her guidance, personal styles are fine-tuned allowing the senior leader to “authentically inhabit” the role of CEO and collaborate with their team more effectively. With this focus on both the people and the organization in which they work, Elli’s market-proven coaching helps leaders and their teams develop styles and capabilities which enables them to collaborate and effectively join together to optimize the business outcomes.

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  • Hi Elli, I think a lot of small businesses are not really interested in growing and while that’s perfectly fine of course, it still worth noting for the rest of us. Small businesses that are, tend to think BIG early on in my experience. Theyu2019re continually in a process of setting them selves up to handle more businesses, they tend to take a longer term view of things and have a clearer vision of where the business needs to go, another significant difference is in how they view their employees, they expect that their people will grow with the business and are prepared to invest and trust in them to get there.

  • Anonymous

    Niall,nnSmall businesses may not be thinking expansionu00a0but many are thinking growth.u00a0While writing thisu00a0 post,u00a0I thoughtu00a0about what a growth phase might mean to many business owners right now. nnReturning to basics andu00a0returning to pre-recession levels isu00a0the goal for many. This is a growth phase.u00a0Not a particularly sexy one but a growth phase nonetheless. Evaluating the type of customer that is wants what you offer, the relevance of the services/products one offers and what systems are still working becomes a crucial processu00a0for keeping the doors open.u00a0I’m notu00a0convinced that thinkingu00a0bigu00a0is key here.u00a0Keeping one’s head clear and not reacting to every bit of bad news is job #1 for the small business owner. Leading and managing during times of uncertainty means a business owner has to be willing to tell himself or herself the truth and set clear expectations for their employees. nnI think you may have inspired my next post. Thanks for the comment.

  • u00a0you’re right! think big can mean think differently here :)you’re right! think big can mean think differently here 🙂

  • Elishbul

    Thanks for the comment! I have just returned from recharging my familial batteries in Singapire and reconnected with the far east in the process. The energy in Asia is such a welcome difference I have to confess given the last few yrs here. Nevertheless the general sentiment is one of “bracing for the unknown” as Asian business is currently very conscious of the fact that issues faced in Europe have already affected their projections for growth . So the attitude now is very much dragon- like in this context- one of not testing on one’s laurels and working more creatively to overcome new challenges.

  • Elishbul

    Agreed – a good marketing plan is essential- being such an uncertain environment It would make sense for a marketing plan to have contingencies built in and the flexibility to adapt to more than one scenario – as our little foray into the Dragon year suggests

  • Debi Harper

    Thank you very much Niall for the opportunity  to blog for
    TYB, I really can’t stress enough how important the planning and execution of a
    good marketing plan is for business. Not implementing a proper plan can lead to
    disastrous results not only financially but on the future of your business. I
    am a great believer in the value aspect rather than cost issues. Oh that could
    be another blog:) The Value an app can bring to your business.

  • Great article. The key, as you say, is standing out in the crowd. So not only does your App have to be unique, differentiated and offer something others do not, then you then need to make sure people in the target are aware of it. The best is through recommendation – either as Apple (for example) has it as one of the featured ones in your category – or by trusted 3rd parties who will shout about it. 

  • Debi Harper

    Hi Gary, thank you very much.What a seriously impressive background you have,I am going to sign up to your blogs:) learn from the greats.

  • I like your pro-active approach to app marketing. I do a lot of work in the tourism sector and there also the most effective way to get online reviews is to ask for them.
    In my own tourism business more than 1 in 3 people asked now leave reviews. Our business didn’t get one review until I asked for it. Asking for reviews is now simply part of the process.  As you know, reviews, (if mainly positive), improve sales.
    Welcome to Tweak Your Biz Debi!

  • *blushes*  Thanks for signing up for my blog! look forward to reading more of your posts and having more interactions on here and on my blog!

  • Debi Harper

    Thank you Helen for taking the time to comment and the welcome, really appreciated. Asking is so hard for many people, myself included:) but so rewarding  and if people like your product they are more than happy to review. If they don’t like it then its a great opportunity to find out why and see if something can be done to help. We have been very fortunate to have been able to turn some negative reviews into positives all it takes is communication. Practice makes perfect:)

  • warrenrutherford

    Deb I appreciate your marketing approach as one that resonates with anyone seeking customers – but in a field with massive growth as you note.  I can see your approach as quite effective in standing out in the crowd. 

  • Debi Harper

    Thank you Warren and yes as the App store is moving so fast and the sheer number of apps you are up against is rising so quickly, it does call for putting yourself out of your comfort zone and fighting to be seen. I am only glad we deal with business apps (which have a longer slower steadier life span within the App store) the games market is a totally different ball game and needs a different approach. 

  • Hi Debi,

    Great first post and fantastic information on marketing your app in a growing marketplace.  I think people often don’t think through to what happens after the project is complete i.e. how people are going to find them and it’s great to find so much advice in one place as most of us don’t have a lot of experience in this particular field which is quite different to making an impression elsewhere.

  • Debi Harper

    Thank you Debbie, it is such a fast growing area and marketing is such a major part of having an app. Nothing worse than paying out a lot of money to have an app developed and not getting the downloads. Everyone would like the next Angry Birds app but they must remember that the marketing budget for that app was huge and in my opinion the game was only successful because of the fantastic marketing appproach.

  • Congrats! I clicked on the ad and did the What Type Of Business Owner Are You? test. I am the hands on soloist at this moment! 😉

  • Congratulations TYB and Sage. It’s great having Beatrice on board also, as a long standing contributor to and supporter of Tweak Your Biz. Here’s to a great 2013.

  • Paschal Preston

    Thanks Sian, appreciate the opportunity!

  • Peter Watson

    Thanks Sian.

  • Liesha Petrovich

    Thanks Sian. Good luck with it!

  • A great reminder of ways to benefit from all that hard work – and a timely reminder, thank you Liesha. Easy to follow steps to earn from something we may be doing also for other reasons.

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