Nothing fires up creativity like a complex problem or challenge that you want to solve.
This is what fuels entrepreneurs. It’s a rush to work really hard and build something that didn’t exist before. That’s what makes startups so exhilarating. But maintaining the fuel and energy can be challenging, because success can squelch the fire.
Entrepreneurs can struggle inside their businesses. On the outside it may look like everything is going well. They have happy customers, a strong corporate culture, and they’re making money. But inside, the entrepreneur is struggling.
Some call it the seven year itch. Others call it the ceiling of complexity. Whatever you call it, there’s a disconcerting feeling that kicks in when your business plateaus: boredom, apathy, frustration, not achieving your potential.
Kickstart your creativity when you face these plateaus. Success is not the destination. It’s simply a marker along the way. Your goal is to define the next big challenge or problem you plan to solve.
Chase the Next Revenue Plateau
Companies have predictable revenue plateaus: $1 million, $5 million, $10 million, $25 million, $100 million, and so on. In the sub-$1 million category, the plateaus are based on incremental growth stages of $10,000 per month: $120,000, $240,000, $360,000, $480,000, $600,000, $720,000.
Each plateau involves a major shift for the business. It requires different skills, management resources, talent, and systems to break through the plateau and reach the next level.
Growing through the plateaus is fundamentally a challenge of infrastructure building. You are building an engine for scale.
These plateaus are ideal targets for an entrepreneur looking for a challenge. Ask yourself, “What do we need to do to grow to the next plateau?”
Chances are your business doesn’t have the model, talent, or systems to get to the next level. And in some cases, you will have to create new business units or services to expand your growth potential. Your current asset can take you only so far, which is why the question is so powerful: What are you building next?
Create an Opportunity to Change
“A business’s ability to grow is dependent on the entrepreneur’s ability to change,” says Jim Stewart, President of ProfitPATH.
Jim is a longtime friend and mentor. He taught me that evolution is a fundamental skill set of leadership. The strategies and habits that got me to where I am today won’t be sufficient for the next leg of the journey. I have to evolve to succeed.
Sometimes you need to accelerate that evolution. You need a reason to challenge the status quo, and to give yourself permission to change. This is when you need that external goal.
Revenue targets might not be the vision for your brand, but they can be an effective change agent. Each new revenue plateau will force you to change as both an entrepreneur and a business.
The goal is only the starting point. Change is what we’re really driving for. To facilitate the process ask yourself three questions:
- Where am I today, and where do I need to move towards?
- What’s working, and what isn’t working?
- Who do I need on my team moving forward, and who has stopped growing and can’t keep up?
These are deep questions, but they will help you uncover what it will take to get unstuck and drive for the next phase of your business.