Being a member of a company composed predominantly of younger professionals, the majority of us still have the luxury of being able to invest our personal time in improving our physical fitness. Recently, in an effort to encourage our fellow team members, we at Mentor Works began posting our healthy aspirations on a public message board near the entrance to our office, and we updated our progress (and excuses) on a monthly basis for four months.
Not surprisingly, by the end of the first three months, some of us had succeeded, while others had failed—some miserably. In an effort to make sure that the exercise was a positive experience in one form or another for all of us we decided to consult a personal trainer.
The lessons we learned about how effectively approach our fitness goals were strikingly similar to the advice we routinely offer business owners on how to grow their businesses:
1. Breakdown Your Growth Plan into Specific Projects and Prioritize
Whereas larger firms may have multiple improvement projects running simultaneously, small to medium-sized firms need to learn how to walk before they can run. In fitness, it might be very overwhelming to attempt to improve speed, agility, and increase muscular strength while eating cleaner and trimming two inches from one’s waistline.
Discerning among improvement objectives that will best compliment your brand and strengthen your competitive advantage is an important internal decision. Once you have in mind the objectives that are the most important to your business’ immediate growth needs you can begin to look to experts for customized solutions to fit your needs.
2. Take a Proactive Approach to Growth in Order to Ensure Adequate Resources
Ad hoc planning results in constantly being preoccupied with “putting out fires,” and it is no surprise that this kind of management style can effectively derail major projects and long-term goals. When it comes to fitness goals, we need to plan around busy work periods, holidays, and vacations to ensure that we will have the time and energy to invest in a new activity or the increase in frequency and/or intensity of an existing routine.
In addition to the consideration required when scheduling business improvement projects, there is an added bonus for forward-thinkers when access to government funding enters the picture.
3. Be Disciplined to Reap the Rewards Long-term
Every fitness trainer will tell you, “for most people results will not happen overnight.” While there is some exception to this rule when applied to government funding, a long-term commitment to improving your business’ cash flow is required in order to realize the greatest benefits over the long run.
You may have had the good fortune to have been amidst the project planning process when you caught wind of a last call for a generous small business grants program that fit your project perfectly. But if you really want to make government funding a part of your long-term growth strategy then at some point you are going to need to come up with a list of three to five projects that you would like to take on within the next 12 to 18 months, and be ready to move on them once the related funding program is released.