Doug Phares | for Editor & Publisher
If you’ve received any business advice in the past, say, 50 years, I’m willing to bet that it came with the assumption that you wanted to expand. We hear that advice all the time — make it bigger and better, scale this area, try these new strategies for growth and similar ideas. But should growing always be the ultimate goal of every business venture?
At its core, business is a hobby that generates money, and there’s no reason to pretend that money doesn’t matter. Everyone has to eat. But, assuming that you’re meeting basic needs and putting bread on the table, it’s important to consider what you want from your investment.
Why did you get into your current business? If it was solely to make boatloads of money, then go with my blessing. Bigger is probably better for you. But for some people, that’s not the ultimate goal. Maybe you started your organization to fulfill a need in your community, or you wanted to work toward a mission goal. If that sounds like you, expanding may not always be in your best interest.
I recently engaged with a small business owner who works in the trades. He’s occupied many positions throughout a long and successful career, including growing a business that was generating good, steady profits with more than 20 employees. But when he sat down to look at what he was getting for his investment — and his time, he realized that he didn’t like what he was seeing.
The business was thriving, certainly, but it took a lot of hours of mental and emotional work from him every week. He was enjoying the profits, but he’d stopped enjoying his work. And he decided that ultimately, making good money wasn’t worth the hassle of managing an enterprise of that size.
So he unwound it. He sold the parts of the business that he could, and he downsized his staff to just him and a few core team members. And he’s over the moon. Sure, he makes a little less now, but he gets to do the hands-on work he wanted to do when he started his business, and he finally has time to enjoy the fruits of his labor.
With the proposition of “go big or go home,” he chose an unspoken third option — to stay right where he wanted to be.
This illustrates the fundamental problem with the messaging that your business is either growing or failing; it’s a false dichotomy. There is a spot for having a satisfying business that serves a purpose and …….