Four days into my new adventure with The Grow Project, there were a few things I had learned; get some sleep. Eat breakfast. Always take notes. Be ready to jump in with two feet.
While Rebecca has spent three years creating The Grow Project, building relationships, and finding expert partners, I have come in at the point where she’s ready to push the big red button and there simply isn’t time for me to dip one toe in to see if the temperature is comfortable. The key here is that the groundwork has been laid over time – as Branson says “there are no quick wins in business. An overnight success takes years.” Just ask Jeff Bezos of Amazon – launched in 1994, Bezos took the company public in 1997 but didn’t turn a profit until late 2001. Or the Finnish game developers Rovio Entertainment who launched in 2003 and almost went bankrupt before their app ‘Angry Birds’ took the world by storm in 2009 (now with over two billion downloads).
Having spent two days with Linzi Boyd of BoB School and author of Brand Famous in my second week with The Grow Project I have learnt even more. When you’re looking to scale your business, you won’t be going it alone. While you know the names Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, they didn’t build empires by themselves. They moved out of their garage and dorm room, respectively, and had partners who were and continue to be, invaluable to the growth of the business. Did you know there are four other founders of Facebook? Or that Jobs could never have built the first Apple computer without Steve Wozniak who single-handedly developed the Apple I in 1976 and primarily designed the Apple II in ’77 while Jobs oversaw the development of the outer case?
If you’re expanding from solopreneur status, finding team members who understand your vision is important. But there is a difference between understanding and aligning. With the rise of social media and freer access to companies and celebrities, consumers and clients want to see what, or rather who, sits behind your brand. When you are looking to grow your team, what dot points are on your selection criteria? Is it it strictly focused on experience, qualifications and contacts? When you interview someone, do you ask for what it is they stand? For what they want to be known? Do they understand and empathise with the issues your clients and target audience are facing?
I have worked for large organisations and SMEs and one thing they have in common is that I have struggled to clearly communicate the company’s purpose. While maybe we can share the blame, I think it does demonstrate that businesses themselves aren’t always clear on what it is they’re trying to get done. I’m not talking about a lovely and inspo-language filled vision statement you print in your employee handbook and display on screen at events. What purpose is coursing through your veins? That gets you out of bed every day, even when you’d really rather not? What vision is ingrained in the very essence of who you are? When you uncover the answers you may realise you’re not living authentically; this may be reflected in the team members and partners you’re attracting, or why you feel like there is always a puzzle piece missing.
Work out what it is that fuels your fire; fill your tribe with people who get it; stand tall; then jump.