The Growth Paradox and the Paradox of Growth


When most business owners are asked what their biggest opportunity and challenge is for the coming year, they agree on one thing: growth. Yet how a business goes about it makes all the difference.

Recently, the State of the Business Owner, or SOBO report came out which researches small and midsize business trends by surveying over 1700 business owners from over 83 countries, and had some surprising results, one of which is about the paradox of business growth. (You can download the free report here).

One interesting discovery is that most entrepreneurs start their businesses for personal values and drivers such as freedom, passion, and independence. Money came in a distant fourth. Owners who did not have a personal connection with why they started their business, played-out this disconnect in their business. In fact, revenue, profits, and overall performance could be predicted and correlated to the degree that an owner has a feeling of control and happiness or a sense of meaning with their business.

The Growth Myth

The section that caught my eye was around how a business owner seeks growth. Most business owners assume that if they just focus on more sales, more leads, more SEO optimization, a higher Google rank, etc., that they will feel in-control of their business and it will then bring them the sense of happiness and satisfaction they’ve been yearning for.

In fact, I see this time and time again as a business coach. It’s common that owners assume that if they just had a little more revenue, or hit their target number for leads or lead conversions, they would feel less stress, personal satisfaction, and accomplishment. And while there is nothing wrong with these goals, research in the SOBO report shows that it’s your priority of goals that makes all the difference.

Infrastructure is Unsexy, But More Effective

The data from this report shows that companies fail to grow if the owner feels out of control. That focusing on profit margins and revenue is the wrong direction. What this report reveals, which my own experience validates, is that if a business owner is leading from overwhelm, that affects every other aspect of the business. Growth happens when you tackle your infrastructure issues, not by avoiding them for the "quick fix" of new sales. This doesn’t mean you can afford to ignore lead generation and conversion activities, but to not relate to them as the magic pill.

Owners who felt more in-control of their business, meaning they spent time working strategically ON their business, creating systems, procedures, vision, and metrics to track the business performance brought in more revenue, and thus a sense of freedom. Freedom can’t happen from overwhelm. So what are you needing to do to get bigger than the day-to-day chaos and catch-up in your business? What infrastructure is most lacking right now?

Building Your Leadership and Management Infrastructure

One way to refocus and re-prioritize on what’s important in your business is to carve out the necessary time to work ON your business. Otherwise it won’t happen magically. In addition to this daily discipline, here are some workshops designed specifically to help you lead and manage your business by first working on your self-management and getting back in-control of how you are leading.

EMyth Business Leadership Intensive August 2nd in San Francisco:


Eventbrite - EMyth Business Leadership Intensive

Creating a Culture of Ownership: A Business and Management Intensive August 16 and 17 in Boulder, Colorado



Eventbrite - Creating a Culture of Ownership: A Business Leadership and Management Intensive