It’s my birthday.
When you are a small child birthdays are about being made to feel special and the centre of attention just for one day.
When I entered my early teens it was about getting “stuff” or cash that could be spent on stuff.
In my later teens and early 20’s, it was all about getting as drunk as possible for as long as possible.
As I get older birthdays become a time of reflection as I take stock about the progress I have made in the past year.
The most memorable gifts were those from the middle teenage years and were music related. Six months after everyone else got it I finally received the CD of The Stones Roses album (I had been listening to it on a cassette tape copied from a friend – music piracy is not a new phenomena). I also used the money I had saved from that birthday to get a ticket to the legendary Spike Island gig – for one May Bank Holiday weekend in 1990 I was actually cool.
This was my generation’s Woodstock (and my parents thought I was camping with my mates – technically I was but just not in the location I had specified to them).
What has my birthday and a Manchester guitar band got to do with your business?
The lead singer of The Stone Roses, Ian Brown, once said “it’s not where you are from, it’s where you are at”. So much as birthdays change and evolve as you get more mature so will your business and you need to reflect on “where you are at” and, more importantly, where you are going next.
Where is your business in its lifecycle?
What stage of maturity has your enterprise achieved? You may be at the early stages and the equivalent as a young child. Everything is fascinating and new. You have a lot to learn but you are learning more in those early years than you will ever learn again at any stage of your life. Being an entrepreneur is great, every day is a new experience and you are having great fun.
Or is your business an early teen when it is all about accumulating “stuff” or cold hard cash. You are not interested in CDs and gig tickets but the entrepreneurial equivalent that you need cash flow for more staff, bigger premises, stock, product development and larger marketing campaigns. Like a young teenager, this is where life starts to get more complicated and you experience growing pains. This is where the cosy, simple world you had experienced as a child starts to reveal its true self. You have setbacks and disappointments – and for the first time since you actually were a teenager, you may find yourself screaming life is unfair to nobody in particular! However, you will also experience rapid growth, push the boundaries of previous experience, challenge the barriers holding you back and feel the exhilaration of feeling truly in control of your business. Even if that feeling of teenage invincibility in tinged with a healthy dose of naivety.
Ah, those lost drunken years. The business equivalent of partying hard during an undergraduate degree. You have survived the early years and grown beyond all recognition and you are finally an adult but still not ready to accept what you perceive to be the boredom and monotony of being a grown up. This hedonistic stage of your business growth is where you start to enjoy the fruits of your labour. You get an executive company car, you start travelling business class and stopping in budget hotels when on business are a thing of the past. And like being a young adult who has just graduated you actually start to get paid some real money. Life feels good.
This is a very dangerous time and sooner or later the realities of being an adult will, one way or another, present themselves. This is the real test of whether you are going to have a great business or if this is going to continue to be a crazy rollercoaster ride – fun, exhilarating but you are hanging on for dear life and hoping that it it ends soon.
This stage is often when we first come into contact with people who join our Mastermind programmes. They have enjoyed the ride but they are looking for stability and maturity in their business and want some support to achieve that. When people get to that mature stage when they become more reflective on what they have achieved and what they truly want their business to be.
You can have some huge breakthroughs and masterminding with other people at the same stage as you really helps you to appreciate what they have and gives more certainty about where they need to go next.
In personal terms, you are married with kids and have some order in your life. You are now starting to think long term about your legacy, how you can start to enjoy your hard work and what you will do if you don’t want to or are unable to carry on committing the time and effort to the business. Often this is the first time that people have really thought about their business because they are actually starting to realise that they can control their business rather than just be dragged along in its wake which can be a strong feature of the earlier stages in the business lifecycle.
This leaves me with one question “where are you at” and more importantly are you ready to progress to the next stage?