There are two main phases companies exist in: the profit phase or growth phase.
The growth phase is like pedaling your bike up hill. It’s hard. It take a lot of energy. But usually it’s worth it.
Once you get to the top of the hill you typically enter the profit phase. That’s where you start coasting. You use all the energy that got you to the top of the hill and coast down to the bottom.
There is much more risk and less benefit for the principals of the company in the growth phase. Most of the money that comes into the company is put right back into the company to keep growing.
In the profit phase risk is minimized, expenses are cut and excess money is funneled directly into the owners’ pockets. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. However, it’s not what our area needs to move into the next era of the business world.
Most of the world is growing: New York, LA, India, China. The list is wide and varied.
There is extreme innovation happening everywhere. And very few things that we do in our region need to be produced here. Another state or country could do them just as easily.
It is not lost on me that we are almost directly in-between Detroit and Pittsburgh:
Detroit is in a dark ages. Pittsburgh is in a renaissance.
We could go either way.
The only way to move into our own renaissance is through growth.
And the only people that can do it are business owners. They are the people who need to sacrifice, risk and grow.
If the business owners don’t do it we will likely fall back into our own dark times. If that happens we all lose. Our communities, our citizens and ultimately our own businesses.
We are our own saviors.
If we coast and profit we will ultimately die.
If we work like hell and grow everyone wins. And not inconsequentially, the riches for those who grow will be significantly greater. But you have to risk and sacrifice now.
That’s the rub.
This is a risk. You definitely could fail. You could definitely pick the wrong path. You could step out of your comfort zone only to meet defeat.
But know this: You have come from a background of risk. You and your founders risked everything to get where you are today. You know risk better than the vast majority. If there is anyone who can manage risk and drive through it, it’s the business owners. You can do it!
And I’ll tell you something else: Fortune favors the bold.
Those who risk often succeed. In fact, they usually succeed. If you truly risk. If you truly drive forward you likely will succeed.
So how do you do it? Here are some thoughts:
- Force your company to become savvy with online marketing. You know it’s the future. It is where everything is moving. Your business is moving there. Become smart about it. Here’s some places to get help with that:
- If you are in Akron, come to a Digital Akron event: http://digitalakron.com/. They are free and all about helping you succeed in online marketing.
- I do a free Web marketing show on Friday’s at 3:15pm, Friday Internet Marketing. You can get to that here: http://sagerock.com/live
- Go to Web Association events. They have great content: http://www.webassociation.org/
- Force yourself to innovate.
- Invent another product.
- Push your services to a more advanced level.
- Make your customer service innovative and great.
- Go to trade shows on the coasts.
- Go to Europe, China, India.
- Go to Canada for God’s sake. It’s only 4 hours away.
- You need to know that you are in a global market. Your competitors are no longer down the road. They are all over the globe.
You simply have to become a stronger, sharper human being. You can’t be the stereotypical conservative, slow-moving Midwesterner. You will get killed.
But I know you can do it. You have a work ethic unlike most others in this country. It is probably on par with the Chinese. You are determined. You are steadfast. You can do this!
But just be sure you do do it. Do it for your neighbors, family, kids and co-workers. We all desperately need this from you.
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