When times got really tough, these slower growing businesses were able to hunker down and not only survive but actually thrive.
Everyone wants to grow their business fast in order to make money quickly. I know it has a lot of advantages i.e. quick money, immediate rewards etc. but is this the ideal way to grow a business?
I grew up on a farm, so I tend to make business observations based on my background as a farmer. Even though I no longer do it and the land I farmed has now been sold, I still like to drive down there and look at the crops.
A couple of years ago, as I was driving with my dad, I noticed the produce on our farms looked great, but as we drove East, the crops didn’t look so good. The ears of corn were smaller and many of the stalks were bent or broken. In some fields up to 50% of the crop was lodged down.
I asked my dad what happened. I speculated that it might be corn
borer damage (larvae that bores into the stalks and weakens them),
rains, high winds or hail. My dad said “no” to each of these.
What happened, he explained, was that the Spring was cool and wet, which delayed the planting. The farmers rushed into the fields as soon as the weather warmed up and the topsoil dried out.
With the continued warm weather and ample moisture, the crops germinated fast and were able to rapidly grow without sinking deep roots. Things went along fine until the drought hit in July and August. The corn and other crops were rapidly growing when they suddenly lost the moisture that was spurring the growth.
They had not developed the root system needed to tap deeper moisture. They ran out of the energy needed to develop strong stalks and big ears. Just normal winds and weight of the stalks caused them to bend and in many cases break.
Why were the crops on our farm doing so well?
The area where our farms were located didn’t have the excess Spring moisture so they sunk deeper roots in order to tap the moisture that was lower in the ground. They actually were behind the growth of the crops on the other farms throughout the Spring.
But when the hot, dry July and August came along they had the root system needed to take advantage of the hot weather and sunshine without suffering from lack of moisture.
What does this have to do with a business?
Some business are created at just the right moment and place. They take off and grow bigger and faster than anyone ever imagined possible, but as times change, as slower growing competitors come along these businesses do not have the infrastructure (root system) in place to tap reserves (moisture) and carry them through the drought.
They don’t have the collateral (strong stalks) built to carry them through the small returns (ears of corn). And, in many cases, they fail.
The slower growing businesses needed to work harder and sink deeper roots (infrastructure, advertising, customers, leads, collateral) in order to stay in the game. They had to acquire more knowledge of the market in order to even get a small, but consistent, share of it.
They had to sink their roots and build stronger stalks from the very onset in order to ensure their survival. When times got really tough, these slower growing businesses were able to hunker down and not only survive but actually thrive.
Why? Because they were built on a solid base and could focus on selling the product rather than surviving.
Does this mean you should throttle your business back?
No! Just make sure you grow your business deep and solid as well as up. If
you’re growing fast and making money, congratulations! Just make sure you are building a deep, solid foundation that will carry you through hard times.
Remember you want a lasting business. You’re into it for the long term not fast, flash in the pan profits that leave you hurting in the long term.