Business Growth Mindset: Risks and Rewards

 Will Your Confidence Expand as Fast as Your Company?

I’m always proud that the lifestyle party business that I ran for over a decade made the UK Fast Track 100 for two consecutive years (more on this another time). The growth was stratospheric, but with big growth comes big responsibility.

I definitely made mistakes but as a professional, I wasn’t afraid to take risks – we called them ‘calculated gambles’ or ‘educated estimates’. I urge you to do the same.

Are you risk-averse? Sometimes not taking the plunge can be the biggest risk of all.

Let me give you examples of my adventures in risk and how they played out.

Risk: Our bespoke booking system

To scale the business we needed a booking system that could absorb and manage the growth. So we built one from scratch, knowing/hoping it would pay for itself in the long run. A serious amount of investment went into building that software, it wasn’t cheap and a serious early-stage-gamble.

Reward?

We were able to process up to 70,000 customers more efficiently year after year. As customer expectations for technology grew, we were able to quickly adapt and provide them with a seamless, ever evolving experience. We soaked this benefit up in time saved, increased bottom line and a consistent flurry of positive reviews and internal feedback from happy teams.

Risk: Our leadership team

We built an elite, forward-thinking leadership team. It came at huge cost in terms of salaries but we justified it by calling it ‘building infrastructure’. 

Reward?

By employing people far more experienced than us in key roles we were able to focus on the future position of the business. We knew we were too involved in the day-to-day and asked ourselves if we weren’t looking to the future, who the hell was? As a result, forward thinking strategy became embedded in our business model, helping us plan more effectively.

Risk: Our accountability strategy

Betting on the future once again, we created an Advisory Board to provide objective input and feedback. It was made up of a diverse group of experienced indivuduals. The experience came at a cost, and rightly so.

Reward?

Creating the Advisory Board gave us a better perspective on the business and, once a quarter, it made us stop what we were doing and collectively reassess where the business was heading. External challenges proved crucial to grounding the company Directors and creating a strong sense of accountability. It kept us on our toes and made us take nothing for granted. Invaluable.

Risk: Our workplace

Our first office was a dump. One of our first risks was to get a much bigger, swankier office in the centre of town. Why? Because we were betting on the positive future of the business and we didn’t want our surroundings to hold us back! We set the intention for growth by increasing our rental costs, forcing expansion and challenging our mindsets..

Reward?

It worked, and in a decade we went from two of us in a broom cupboard to 80 staff in a beautiful big space, in line with our growth. It became essential for attracting new talent and supporting our culture of treating our teams well, while providing them with beautiful inspiring surroundings. It was exciting – but arguably cart-before-horse.

I’m a consultant now using my specific expertise to help companies grow their offerings. I have the joy of supporting others as they put themselves in the hot seat. But I’ve certainly learned that, even when business growth pays off, your ‘business brain’ might not have expanded at the same rate and you may have to catch up fast to see the next event horizon. Don’t worry – just be aware and be ready for it.

Thanks for reading.

PS: There is another version of this called Nick’s Risks and Disasters! I’ll save that for another article or perhaps over a lazy pint.