Growth without growth
If you don’t want to have employees, assistants, scale up or grow a company that’s bigger than you – you can still grow a company organically. It’s just a different kind of growth.
Which got me to thinking, if growth via scale isn’t an option for whatever valid reason we’ve got, how else can growth happen?
Here’s a list of the ways I think organic growth can happen without growth:
- Working for yourself doesn’t necessarily mean you have to work alone. Even if you aren’t interested in scaling your business, there are still great reasons to hire freelancers for specific projects. For example: an editor to help with your book, a research assistant to help gather content for your course, a programmer to code your website.
- Project partnerships are another great way to scale your reach and skillset without growing your business, since it’s just partnering up for one specific project with an end goal in mind. Think: co-creating a course that combines what you both do and pitched to both your audiences, or creating a small software company with partners.
- You can grow revenue without doing more work or working for longer hours if you get efficient with systems and processes. The more you create a standard process for doing repetitive tasks, the faster you can get them done. Or, if you can, automate them completely. For example: creating a series of onboarding emails for new buyers or using a scheduler app like Calendly or Acuity to book meetings/calls in significantly less steps.
- Say “no” to most opportunities. No matter how efficient you get, there is only so much time in the day. You’ve got to be vigilant about your priorities, because everything can’t be a priority. Opportunities, however seemingly great, come at a cost of time, attention and energy. Very rarely does a business succeed because you said “yes” to a single thing. You can safely turn down a speaking gig or summit invitation because you need to focus on your work.
- Heads down, work mode is your best friend. Read Cal Newport’s Deep Work. In order to create or do the specific work you do, you’ve got to tune out everything else for long stretches of time. That means turning off social media notifications or not working with your email program open. I recommend that you do your best to have at least a day or two a week without calls, meetings or interruptions.
- You can define your own measure of success, since your company is just you. Maybe that means more time in your garden or hiking. Or longer vacations with your family. It may have little to do with revenue or quarterly earnings reports. You can also decide what “enough” is. For example: if you know you only need a certain amount of revenue to cover your costs and savings for a year, once you hit that, you can take very long breaks from your work (and come back refreshed/energized).
- Repurpose as much as you can. Being one person means the more you can reuse things, the faster you can get work done. For instance, you could turn a blog post you wrote into several pull-quotes for social media, then syndicate the same content across the web (guest posts or Medium), then turn that content into a podcast episode, then use that content and go deeper with it as a chapter in a book. Same content, used many times.
- Create products that relate to each other and appeal to the same audience. It’s far easier to sell something new to to someone who’s already bought something from you (if they loved it). The more you can continue to hit the same audience, the more trust you’ll have built with them and the easier it’ll be to sell them something new. That said, if you’re starting from scratch, start with services, not products.
- Related to the last bullet: don’t give up on products too early. Relaunch everything you create multiple times, because there’s always probably a) people who don’t know about it, b) people who know about it but didn’t buy it yet and c) people who are just waiting for it launch again with a new discount, promotion, bonus or some other form of urgency.
These are just a few of the ideas off the top of my head to grow your business without growing your business.
The good thing, if it’s your work, you get to call the shots and figure out what actually matters to you. It may not be what matters to other businesses or business owners.