To succeed in business, you must be willing to work very hard for it. Successful entrepreneur and stock trader Tim Sykes describe this desire to work harder than most as being “crazy aggressive.” In his case, he turned the $12K he received for his bar mitzvah into $4 million by the time he was only 22 years old. As he describes it, “I was crazy aggressive, but that kind of determination is what has made me successful.”
The word aggressive in this case doesn’t denote hostile behavior, but instead refers to your determined efforts to truly make your business all that it has the potential to be. As a small business owner, you need to be particularly aggressive when it comes to transitioning from a startup company to an established, successful business. This transition can be especially challenging, which is why a majority of small businesses never make it.
Many businesses that successfully move to the next stage lose sight of their original goals of creating an innovative product or service. These businesses expand so quickly that the only thing that seems to matter is their profit margin and annual growth percentage.
Blanchette Press is an exception to this idea of super growth, and as such, has been aggressive in its efforts to always stay just the right size. After over 45 years in business, the company’s business concept still revolves around being the best printer, not the biggest.
As Blanchette Press owner and founder Kim Blanchette puts it, “As you grow outside of what we’ll call your ‘sweet spot,’ many things tend to become less important and capital growth is often the only thing that matters. Businesses will put the blinkers on and lose sight of what gets them to that point. We believe our sweet spot is the people we serve.”
Surviving the Transition from Startup to Established Business
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, up to 70 percent of businesses fail in their first five years of existence. They never make the transition to becoming a long-term, established business. Forbes contributor Martin Zwilling says, “Early-stage entrepreneurs rightly keep their focus on creating an innovative product or service. After celebrating success at that level, they often find themselves ill prepared to move to the next stage, for scaling their business into a high-performing enterprise that delivers a superlative customer experience.”
As your business becomes more established, you should avoid growing so large that you no longer meet the needs of your customers. This means keeping a high standard of quality and innovation in your products and services. Although technology can play a significant role in your business’s transition, it should never replace personal contact with customers—they are ultimately the foundation your success is built upon.
During this period when your business is transitioning, you need to take time to reflect upon your company’s future and where you want it to be in the next five years. Dan Arens, business growth advisor for Inside Indiana Business, suggests performing an internal assessment of your company by asking these kinds of questions: