Time to cross the chasm?


There is always plenty of noise about the fabled growth phase but how do you know if you are in it and what do you do if you want to get there quicker? Once you are post-revenue (actually selling the stuff you are making) the siren call of ‘early stage’ is beckoning. The growth phase will mean different things to different businesses depending on their level of ambition and where they are right now.  Is it just an increase in customers and revenues, or is it about getting a bigger team team or moving to a bigger office. It might even mean mining another seam of investment, acquiring another business or even merging with another one. But invariably it does mean that you are standing on the edge of the chasm trying to weigh up how to cross without falling Gandalf-like into the depths of Moria. You may even have found a comfort zone where growth can be daunting and potentially risky so it’s going to take a pretty good reason to take the leap and risk it all. So just ask yourself the following question “What are the signs that my business is ready for growth to the next level, and what is that next level?” Is it really a straight leap across the chasm? Here are three telltale signs of whether you need to jump or not

1.    Your inner signals.

You are frustrated with your progress and dissatisfied with your level of success in some way, be it turnover, the size of your team, the reach of your products or services, or even your personal remuneration. You feel bored with things the way they are and want a change and you need more, or better, or different. In summary your vision for the business is bigger your current reality. You are desperate to cross the chasm but can’t think of ways to do it, without taking too much of a risk.  Have you looked into the darkness below and taken fright?

2.    Your business’ signals

Your team keeps hitting some form or barrier to achieving more, perhaps    experiencing a catch-22 due to limitations of resources, i.e. the team is too small to make more sales yet you need sales to afford a bigger team. They are unable to satisfy the demand customers are making of the business and keep “dropping the ball” and struggling to deliver a desirable level of service. You are very nervous about accelerating your burn rate and you are stuck in the rut of “safety first”. You really need to hit the pavement with new products or services that have taken time to develop and a rapid ROI is needed. Is more cash the answer and if you had the extra funds would you be able to execute any quicker? Actually – you have not grown enough to exit properly or realise the value of the business and you aren’t quite at the point where you can take time off without the business collapsing in your absence! It’s a real worry isn’t it?

3.  External signs

You have identified a new opportunity, a gap in the market or a chance for vertical or horizontal integration and need to move quickly. Your competition is struggling due to limited resources and capacity to deliver – they creaking with the signs of stress and you have the chance to rinse them. The market for your products or services is now ready and your customers are asking if you can do more.

If any of the above is resonating with you then its time to cross the chasm and jump. You may never get another opportunity so take a deep breath, say three Hail Marys and take the leap. Upgrade your management team and your IT systems, aggressively fund your business and hit the pavement. You just don’t want to die wondering if……..