I’ve been thinking a lot about growth lately in three different contexts:
- Marketing growth. What does it mean to apply growth marketing principles, but from a mindset of abundance (e.g., there’s enough for me and you and we can both play the long-game) instead of scarcity (e.g., if I don’t grab these people NOW, I’ll lose)?
- Business growth. What does it mean to grow a business when you (I?) want to stay independent and solo, with a small team of contractors, but not employees?
- Muscle growth. As I (s l o w l y) restart my weight lifting, what are the essential mechanics/fundamentals and the 80/20 to focus on?
In each case, one particular word-answer has come — time and time again — to my mind.
No matter what goal you’re playing towards, you need to start by getting really f’ing clear with yourself on your intentions and goals for both the short-term and long-term.
Let’s look at this idea through three different lenses.
If your goal for growth is to grow as much as possible — fast! faster! more! — it’s too easy to be tempted to throw the kitchen sink of short-term marketing/growth tactics against the wall, see what sticks, and end up somewhere with no idea how to proceed forward.
If you have a clear intention for marketing growth — e.g., write two articles/month, get to 10k subscribers in 12 months, reach 1 million people in your audience by 2023 — then you have a clear(er) target to aim for.
With that target, you can define a strategy. And that makes all the difference. You can then look at all possible tactics and filter them/weigh them against your intention and overall strategy.
This approach can be the difference between asking, “Does this make the boat go faster?” and “Does this make the boat go faster in the direction that’s relevant to my intention?”
Without that clarity of intention, it’s too easy to get duped by shortcuts that might get you moving, but with a hidden cost.
I’m unashamedly a fan of running a small, independent business.
But there are inflection points in every business where it’s harder and harder to grow and scale when you’re 100% solo.
One of my directives is that adage about knowing if what you’re working on is $1/hour work, $10/hour, $100/hour, or $1,000/hour—and then doubling down on just the high-value $100/hour and $1,000/hour work.
As low-value as $1/hour and $10/hour work can be, it often is stuff that needs to be done at some point. (Ideally? Not by you.) Eventually, the business kipple (https://www.zinzin.com/observations/2012/kipple-drives-out-nonkipple/) of low-value tasks builds up. They need to be swept down.
So, how does one reconcile that against a drive to not grow a team of employees?
Are you hiring — contractors, ideally — because it feels nice or because there’s a business process you’re delegating to them that either removes you from operations or frees you up to generate more value?
A long time ago — the second time I got into weight lifting, back in the Year of our Lady Two Thousand and Twelve — I was a big fan of a niche weightlifting methodology called LeanGains.
One thing I loved about LeanGains was that it took a lot of the decision paralysis out of lifting, training, and eating. You focused on a simple, low-volume, high-intensity workout: Squat, deadlift, bench press, overhead press, and chin-ups.
The key insight? Numbers don’t lie.
If you want to gain more muscle or lose weight
- Track your key numbers (e.g., calories in, weight lifted, bodyweight)
- Keep it simple as you focus on the process that will move you towards your goal (e.g., lift heavy things and put them down again, eat good things, drink water, move your body so the wind blows your hair back, sleep).
Intentionality, again, is key. Another directive (emphasis added):
Training requires an investment of time. A lot of time. And after many, many months or years go by, and much effort is expended, one day you will find yourself standing in the gym, feeling tired, and you will ask yourself, “What am I doing here?” The correct answer is, “I am working up to squatting 315.” If your answer is, “I don’t know,” you start getting all philosophical. The gym is not a place for philosophy. The gym is a place for action.
To succeed, you need to have a specific intention or target in mind that you’re working towards (e.g., squat 315 lbs). Otherwise, it’s too easy to either:
- Move the goalposts and convince yourself that you’re not quite at your target yet (no matter how much work you’ve put in)
- OR get overly philosophical instead of focusing on taking action
When it comes to your marketing and business growth, what’s your intention for 2021? What’s your target?
- Get more clients?
- Earn more money?
- Spend less time working in the business?
- Launch a product and better leverage your time?
Or, are your intention, goal, and target as yet undefined?
As with any growth, it’s ideal to have clarity regarding why you’re growing. Is it in service of a particular goal? Does it help you get closer to a target? Or is your answer, “I don’t know”?
The most valuable thing I can recommend for you? Sit down and think through the goals you’re aiming for in the new year. Take stock of where you are and where you want to be. Make a plan — a backward plan, ideally — of what it’ll take to get from where you are moving towards where you want to be.
And if you’re looking for outside insight, perspective, and direction when it comes to growing as an indie consultant in 2021, you’ll want to check out a 1-on-1 Marketing Growth Workshop (https://kaidavis.com/services/marketing-growth-workshop/).
In your Marketing Growth Workshop, we’ll discuss the business outcomes you want to achieve over the coming months, review your options, and define an action plan for you to follow to get there.