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Edition 365 – The Big Leap Of Small Steps

Why is everyone looking for a quick fix? Impatience? Not quite committed to the cause? Left it too late to do something, so you’re playing catchup?

Whether it’s your health or a change that’s required in your business, no positive change ever happens rapidly. Ever! It’s only ever small, incremental steps that eventually lead to the longest lasting, most impactful change.

In October 2022, whilst getting ready in a hotel room after an overnight city stay for technical training day, I caught a glimpse of myself as I entered the bathroom. I knew I’d piled on a few kilos over COVID, but for some reason, in a different light, in a different location, I realised it was more than a few kilos – it was a lot!

It was at that moment I decided I needed to change. In the back of my mind, when I went back for that second helping, or tucked into a delicious cake when, really, I wasn’t that hungry, I knew the point would come when I had an epiphany. That was the day.

I’d been successful at losing weight around 7 years ago, so I knew what it would take this time around:

  1. Setting a realistic first goal as a target weight (there is a second, more optimistic one).
  2. Not eating after 7.30pm.
  3. Cutting back on the carbs.
  4. Watching portion sizes.
  5. Monitoring my daily food intake via an app.

It took four months of daily focus and in early February, I achieved my first target weight. I’d shed 8 kg, which doesn’t seem a lot when you look at the time frame. However, 400-500 grams per week is optimal in terms of maintaining weight loss. The fact that I dropped almost two sizes in trousers is where I noticed it.

It’s the same when it comes to making changes in business. So many people are impatient when they’ve finally come to the decision that something needs to change and they expect an almost immediate impact. Sorry, it rarely happens.

Similarly, I’m of the firm opinion that after more than three decades of working with small and family businesses, rapid growth is not sustainable and often, leads to exactly the opposite.

When I work with my clients, we often talk about the need to have a period of consolidation in business. It’s my reasoning that growing businesses need to, at some point, stop and take stock of where the business is at. They may have grown from $3 million to $5 million in turnover over a 2 year period. However, they should take their foot off the accelerator and consider:

  1. Do we have the right people with the right skills on board?
  2. Are the type of clients we’re working with now the ones we want to work with in the future?
  3. Can our systems and processes cope now in the business and will they cope with any future increase in turnover?
  4. Is our financing structure right to fund future growth?
  5. Is our current location able to cope today, let alone tomorrow?
  6. Where are we at risk in our business, that we hadn’t otherwise considered?

The challenge is to temper the impatience of some family business owners to want to keep growing. Sometimes, the period of consolidation is three months – for others, it is two years. In my opinion, it takes what it takes to ensure the business is capable of any future growth, assuming that’s the ultimate objective of the family and the owners.

Change in any business is a series of small steps. There is no quick fix.  However, to get there, the two most important characteristics you’ll need to possess are:

  1. Patience
  2. Perseverance

This Week’s Tip

“It’s only on reflection at a later date, when you look back,
that you notice the big leap that took place.”