Last weekend, I spent time with some friends discussing their fledgling business. We talked at length about content and its role in developing their brand. We also spoke about sales and how they’re adjusting to the highs and lows that come with the good days and the bad.
On special occasions they see a spike in sales and then the rest of the week can be quiet. It’s a psychological battle that can wear you down when you’re scrutinising each day and wondering ‘why won’t they buy?’. Your motivation levels fluctuate and you begin to question the entire operation.
Sensing these feelings, I posed the following question, “how long has your business been up and running?”.
Six weeks! I immediately felt a sense of optimism for their cause. Besides, people go on holidays for six weeks! Six weeks is insignificant in the grand scale of building a sustainable and profitable business — if you take a long term perspective.
When I look at Teach Starter, I want the business to be here in 50 years. I want to be an old man, long replaced by a new CEO, and still able to see the legacy we created continuing to grow. I want Teach Starter to outlast my time on this planet.
When you have that kind of long-term perspective, the day to day highs and lows are well and truly put into perspective. You begin to ask questions that look beyond the 6 month outlook. What kind of business do we want to create? What is our purpose? What is our impact?
For a start, I recommended that my friends begin to look at sales on a monthly or quarterly basis. This will allow them to take a step back from the ups and downs that come with daily sales. This will give them some longer term goals and direction. Can next month be better than this month? How do we make that happen?
It can be incredibly difficult to move the needle of growth significantly in one day, so by looking at things on a month to month basis, the results of their day to day strategies become more apparent. They can then reflect and see if this month is better than the last, and have some kind of idea why.
While this small change will cultivate a monthly/quarterly outlook, it’s important to have the patience and vision to look farther into the future. Can you imagine the business in 5 years? What does it look like? Allow yourself the pleasure of imagining this reality. It will help to cement a vision in your mind and begin to guide your decisions with greater purpose.
The only thing separating you from this vision is the ‘days’ along the way. Making the right decisions, working on the right things, executing the right strategy, having the right product and targeting the right audience. When these ducks line up, growth will follow.
But growth doesn’t need to be 100% year on year. If you truly believe in a long term perspective, as long as there is growth, you’ll get there in the end. Competitors will come and go. Those who lack patience and determination will stumble. Those who execute poorly will fall. Ultimately, the market will decide.
Do you have the ability (and ability to learn), the patience, the discipline and the long term perspective to win?