Like many small business leaders—I wear too many hats.. 

On top of that I often seek perfection—or at least a level of polish that's unrealistic across such a wide surface area. It's great in some areas—limiting in so many others.

So here.. I committed in Q3 (after P1 of Squad4's Launch Plan) to be more consistent at "doing" a shortlist activities I like doing and I've either neglected or purposefully de-prioritized to achieve other goals.

Less analysis/paralysis. Align the day-to-day activities I already perform and use those experiences to write... Then, during dedicated time. Pick a topic and go.

So here it goes..

Small business leaders... Are you stoking or choking your organization's growth?

The data says it all. Most SMBs fail. 18% in their first year. Up to 50% by year 5. This stat is as much about businesses as it is about their leaders. That's right.

Managing a business and vision with limited resources is difficult—crazy ambition. I love it, though I admit it's masochistic in a lot of ways.

So, how do you know if you're helping or hurting your own growth?

There are a lot of people with opinions, quick fixes, and motives out there. So if you're on tilt or gasping right now—you should probably focus more on your own well-being and balance than continue reading this or looking for answers.. at least for a few minutes. Detox and space is helpful. (Hey Scott, take your own advice more often.)

Hey, SMBs and their leaders face numerous challenges and ever increasing competition. It comes with the territory, leaders of "small" orgs are constantly trying to get creative... 

👉 How they allocate resources—monetary, physical, and human capital. 
👉 What projects they work on or don't. 
👉 What meetings make it on to their calendar. 
👉 Who they hire.
👉 What's the ROI or ROE (Return on Effort) for that?...

Also remember—context is everything. So temper your expectations when taking advice from others.

No two businesses, services/products, or moments in time when those individuals or organization's achieved their success or failure are ever the same.

The same tactics and approaches that build resiliency early in a person or organization's development often just hold you back once you have a vetted growth strategy or achieved product-market fit—and are getting ready to grow or scale.

There are too many things to cover here—but here are the headlines and key pieces of advice I've started adhering to lately:

  • You can't do everything. Remember that always. Positioning yourself as the nexus for change is a prison of success waiting to happen.
  • Where your attention goes, so will your energy. You'll tend to get caught in tunnel vision with your immediate (90 day goals/needs) so schedule time now to focus on vision and your priorities.
  • Document your vision. Regularly. It needs to be scalable and serve one-to-many. Whatever you document initially will be wildly off.. That's okay. You can course correct later (Did you know... Apollo missions were off course 97% of the time—they made it.) and you will get better over time.
  • Slow down to speed up.
  • As Gary Vee says... "Document. Don't create." Stop worrying about that great strategy. Document what you're doing and get over the hump of self-doubt. Most early drafts and initial pieces of work aren't any good. If you accept the path to great starts with garbage—you'll save yourself a lot of pain/stress.
  • Automation is a double-edged blade. It has the power to help you as much as hurt you. As a "tech kid" serving in digital/marketing ops roles early on—I have and continue to learn this the hard way). Yes, it will help with unit economics, but it's just as easy to throw the baby out with the bath water. If you try to automate out the personal interactions that drain your time—you will also automate away your value, your understanding of customer needs, wants, and challenges—and you often won't realize it until it's too late. Certain things can be automated—personal connection, relationships, and one-to-one or small group time that builds your network cannot.
  • Start looking at your strengths as your weaknesses and your weaknesses as strengths.
  • Follow as many experts in your area of interest as possible. You need more ideas, voices, and friction in your life to grow. Not less.
  • Commit to reading/listening to books to amplify your knowledge and impact on subjects you're interested in or that are adjacent/tangential to what you want to accomplish.
  • There are creators and then there are maintainers. No one is both (at least long-term). Building something new requires creativity, freedom, and flexibility. These are great characteristics for those developing new ideas. But these traits don't typically align with roles that need to maintain relationships, systems, and the status quo. You need to not only be aware of which category you fall in (and your energy) but the talents and traits of each of your team members. If you have a creative team member who achieves success with new, fresh ideas—putting them into a position where they have to manage/maintain the success or a team they've built will often just burn them out and lead to future failure.
  • Hiring personnel is NOT going to save you time.. At least not in the short term. Not only does it require a tremendous amount of energy to find great personnel (not to mention unicorns), then you have to onboard, train, and ensure they're success. I have made so many missteps thinking I'll hire an expert to "take some weight off" my shoulders. Plus, most SMB leaders often don't even have a foundation of tech, strategy, or ops to make use of someone's talents. Start by doing—in simple steps.

Just start, hit record, or write it down.

Get the ideas of your head and into the real world...

If you start thinking about it—or put it on a To Do List—the odds are significantly higher that you won't complete the task in any time period you want to.. If ever.

Scott—that's good enough. Next time, expand on the specific conversations you've been having with SMB leaders about their RevOps and their internal growth goals—or lack thereof.


Scott Flanigan
Post by Scott Flanigan
July 1, 2023
Do. Grow. Repeat. Figure the rest out as you go.