Surviving “The Crunch” Phase in Your Business Growth

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Joseph had a fast growing business …but like many bootstrapping entrepreneurs he’s the ONLY one working in the business. Joseph was working 10 – 12 hour days, 7 days a week. He’d have a couple of good weeks where he accomplished a lot, then hit a wall of exhaustion and overwhelm and lose traction for three weeks. So Joseph hired me to coach him through his challenging phase so the frustration didn’t overtake his motivation to create a profitable business.

We map out his Profit Growth Plan.

I outline his key growth factors which included hiring a virtual assistant and starting an Authority Platform Booster to create visibility and leads.

Then we agree on a timeline for each step.

Joseph is excited and jumps in eagerly on his action steps, checking in every week with his progress.

At about the 6 week mark, Joseph shares that he’s feeling anxious. His list of “to-do’s” is way longer than he can stomach. He wants to see progress NOW. His lack of patience quickly turns to outright desperation as he begins to believe he can never have his dream business.

Joseph is in a phase I liked to refer to as The Crunch.

The Crunch is that horribly overwhelming and quite daunting phase of knowing WHAT to do but not having the TIME to do it. This phase usually kicks in when the small business owner things like this:

– I know I need to outsource more tasks but I’m afraid to spend any more money on my business.

– Bringing clients in the door fast is essential to my cash flow but when I do I’m overwhelmed with too much to do.

– Tasks and deliverables are falling through the cracks but I can’t slow down enough to put the systems into place.

– There’s never enough time in the day to get everything done so I always feel like I’m slipping farther and farther away from my dream business!

Ouch. The Crunch is not a fun place to be but I see so many eager entrepreneurs fall into this challenging phase over and over again.

Why?

Because we want things faster than we can realistically achieve them. High-achievers are impatient.

Here’s a little recipe to survive “The Crunch” phase:

1. Decide to set realistic expectations of what’s possible.

The reason you feel so frustrated and down-trodden is because your expectations are not realistic – so your mental chatter becomes toxic as you focus on what you have not accomplished yet. Instead of beating yourself up for not moving fast enough, recognize that you are human and you can’t do everything all at once. Introducing leverage strategies takes time. Rome wasn’t built in a day and your business won’t turn around in a week – or probably even a month. If you can slow down your expectations to say, semi-superhero levels, maybe you’ll feel less frustrated and put your energies into accomplishing more.

2. Prioritize your new strategies.

Take time to identify what strategies should come first. You can’t get them all done at once (really, you can’t, I promise) so prioritize what really needs to get done first versus what would be nice to accomplish. When you prioritize you can focus better and you’ll spend less time in the mental spin cycle. Not sure what to prioritize? Well, first off, hire a coach to help you map out a game plan. If that’s not possible right now then here’s my secret:

Prioritize tasks that make money today first, then focus on what will make you money in 30 days, 90 days, etc. Click To Tweet

3. Embrace that you have to invest to grow.

Whether it’s investing in a team or growth opportunities, it takes an investment of time and money to elevate your business to the next level. If you freak out when you have to spend money on a coach, a team member or a new marketing strategy, then you might as well just decide to stop growing. Consider each expense an investment and get clear on what has to happen to turn that investment into a profitable result.

4. Indulge in a little (or a lot) of tolerance and patience.

Being frustrated won’t help. A frustrated mind can’t focus, make good decisions or see clearly. You’ll need to be patient as implement new strategies. Some of your heard work will payoff immediately – but some things will require more time. You will have wins — and failures. A set back is not a permanent position, its just an opportunity to gather information and get better in the long run. Remember that growing a business is a process that requires having a level-head. Slow and steady wins the race my friend.

Could you use a little perspective on where you are in the growth of your business? Take my FREE Influential Profits Quiz and discover what your best growth strategies really are.

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3 Comments

  • Jeanne hurlbert, PhD

    October 19, 2010

    Awesome advice, Melanie! You gave concrete, actionable strategies for a dilemma I hear customers and clients describe every day. Doing the things to get “out of the crunch” and “through the chute” requires letting go of some of the strategies that got you this far, which is scary. But embracing the proven strategies you suggest will provide growth and results.

    • Melanie Benson Strick

      October 20, 2010

      Thanks Jeanne. Seems like ideas without action just become more “ideas.” =-)

  • Monica Shah

    October 30, 2010

    This is an awesome post and I so resonate with what you are saying. I am especially happy about your last point about having to invest money in your business to grow it. I totally agree and this is so hard for business owners who may have to take a leap of faith and spend money they don’t currently have to get to the next level.