There will be times in your business where the topography changes rapidly. You’ve settled into a groove of comfort and stability, getting along, doing what you need to do, and planning for the glorious future. The place where your business is full and thriving, and you are getting public recognition, and it feels, basically, like you can pull back on working so hard.
Except when your long held dreams start to come true, what follows looks very much like a breakdown. Things start falling apart, right at the seams, leaving you wondering what you’ve unleashed.
That, pretty much, describes my state of experience over the past two months, since my business more than doubled in size after one really well delivered talk at a conference called Wealthy Thought Leader. From that one event, I generated over 60 client inquiries, multiple subsequent referrals, and now have a waiting list of several months for my “done for you” services.
I don’t say this to brag, though I am aware that this is what you might call a first world type problem. The part that has surprised me about the sudden shift in business topography has been just how quickly even more change has been required. Before the event, I had it all figured out. I thought. But since?
My best-laid out plans of how I would work with my clients? Trashed. My best-laid working schedule? Obliterated. My belief that I could do it all and do it well mostly on my own? I won’t even go there.
But…even for that… my desire to do good and make a difference? Huge as ever. My excitement and love for what I do? Still there.
Yet, the acid test of my planning came to a vigorous roiling boil right after speaking at the event, and has been unfolding since then. As I kept signing on new clients, I began to realize that I’d need more help. Lots more help to be able to do all the good work I wanted to do for them. That brought another challenge of looking to hire more people.
Since my plan had always been to have a boutique business, I had too little help for the size of business I was saying Yes to. What I saw, then, was that I have been working harder and harder, and taking on more and more work. At the same time, some life circumstances required that I be away from my business more than I had planned.
As a result, I began feeling sluggish, overloaded, and paralyzed. I didn’t realize that I needed to ride the tiger, as it were- to find a way to hold on and match myself to the pace of my new business. There was this incredible slow down in my processes- which, if you know me at all, is very unlike me- I generally move super fast and accomplish a great deal, one after another and another.
I was, essentially, trying to slow myself down to catch up to all that was happening when what was actually required was to keep accelerating the rate of change.
And so- after a few well timed kicks in the butt from some close friends, I began to realize that waiting for things to calm down was not the right strategy. That things were feeling as if they were falling apart to show me how to make them stronger. That the size of the business that was calling me was bigger than I had thought.
And so, even though I thought I had a map, the topography had changed, and my old map wasn’t working as well anymore.
So while I’m still in the process of riding the tiger, here are a few things I’ve learned so far:
1) When your business grows rapidly, quickly hire more help than you need. It doesn’t matter if they are the exactly right people or the long term people. But if you are going to say yes to new clients, say yes to assisting them well. You need capacity to do this.
2) Get a lot of extra rest. You need time to assimilate all that’s happening. Sleep is one of the best ways to do this.
3) Simplify and streamline. You will need to let go of some things in order to match your new landscape.
4) Cultivate trust that you can make this work. If you trust yourself and your process, you can stay centered and grounded even when stuff is flying.
You can’t have something new in your business (or your life) without changing who you are. You need to let go of the old you to make room for the new. And that’s the key strategy of how you ride the tiger when everything seems to be hitting the fan.