I know what my business looks like when it’s mature and I know to the day and hour when I plan to get there. And it won’t take as long as you think. What’s your Business Maturity Date?
What we talked about 2 weeks ago is too important to not repeat as a setup for this week’s conversation: We think our purpose in business is to make money when our purpose in business is to BUILD A BUSINESS that makes money when we’re not there. These two things are worlds apart, and almost every business owner I work with is absolutely buried in making money, which will keep them from ever making a lot of it.
Why? Because we can’t find the proper balance between the Tyranny of the Urgent – things we have to do to personally make money today; and the Priority of the Important – building a business that will make money for us w/out even being there.
We never have a problem with the Tyranny of the Urgent. Got to pay the bills – It comes rushing at us every morning like a locomotive with a stuck, screeching whistle, while the Priority of the Important (building a business that makes money when we’re not around) sits quietly in the corner of our minds, waiting to be picked up and dealt with, never screaming; just a subconscious whisper in our ears, “Deal with me now and you’ll have fewer Urgent things down the road.”
It’s immediately drowned out by the screeching whistle, so we get sucked on board and spend another day riding in circles with cranky passengers, smoke in our eyes, shoveling coal and sweating it out, and wondering how to get off this cursed treadmill-like train that just comes back to the same place every day.
Pick a Business Maturity Date. It’s that simple. What? Yes. Just pick a maturity date. It will change you forever. From a hostage to someone heading straight for freedom.
Two years ago this week, March 6, 2007, I started my business with a Business Leader’s Insight lunch workshop with 24 people in attendance, with the same fear and trepidation every one of you felt the day you opened your doors and for months afterwards – it’s not any different for anyone – don’tkid yourself.
But something is different. I have a Business Maturity Date that will take me past the startup fear and right through the “languishing” that most businesses resign themselves to.
In 3 years, 11 months, 2 weeks, and 22 ½ hrs. from when I started, I expect to be done building a business that makes money when I’m not around. I’ve got a lot of work to do and the clock is ticking relentlessly, the train is screeching, belching, and going in circles, and at the same time I’ve got little time left already to build this business to maturity.
My Business Maturity Date? Friday, February 18, 2011, at 10am – 1 year 11 months and two weeks from now.
On that day I will have a mixed Stage 6-7 business (more another time on the Seven Stages of a Business) with others running the day to day and me continuing on in content development and focused delivery. I know how much money it is making on that day and how much I will take home. It is very clear to me what Maturity means to my business on that day.
At 8:30am on that morning I will have a staff meeting and turn over the business to them to run, have an early glass of champagne with them, leaving the office in good hands, and be out of the office by 10am to pack my bags. At 6:10pm that evening my wife and I will be on a plane to Auckland, New Zealand, her dream vacation, for three weeks of celebration. We land in Auckland at 7:25am Sunday morning. The trip will cost $12,380.
Does it change you a little bit even reading this? Imagine what it’s done to me, and what it will do to you when you make the same commitment. It will change you forever.
There are three steps that, when we take them, we change:
- Decide something.
- Pick a date for when we will be done.
- Go public.
To help us all with this three-step process in building a Mature Business, I’m starting a new “club” that is a big idea and will need to be owned by everyone involved. It will certainly end up with committed, focused business owners in cities across the world. It’s called 3to5Club. The three requirements to become a member?
- Make a decision that a) you will stop trying to make money and will become committed to building a business that makes money, and b) you will define and describe for yourself what a mature business means to you (it has to make money when you’re not there as a starter.)
- Pick a date for when it will be mature (note: this doesn’t mean you sell it that day; you could sell it, keep it and start another one, use it to fund your lifetime goals, turn it over to your kids, or keep working in it doing just the very few things that make magic for you.) And pick a time of day, not just a day – it will make a Priority of the Important Clock start ticking in your head loudly to help counter the screeching whistle of the Tyranny of the Urgent.
- Go public. You won’t really change permanently until you take this step.
Why the name? I’ve come to the conviction that it is normal that any business could be grown from inception to maturity in 3to5 years (investors always want their money back in 3to5), 2 to 7 in the best and worst of circumstances. That doesn’t mean you have to pick something in that range. But if you go out 9, 12, 15 years, I believe the bar isn’t high enough to create the urgency you need to be intentional every day about growing your business. It will be too easy to lapse back into making money, a deadly trap. Be ambitiously lazy, get done quicker.
I believe by using the one motivator and two bosses we talked about last week, that it is quite possible my business will be at Maturity before Friday, February 18, 2011, 10am. But what if I miss that date? How do I deal with the fear I might fail? The head starts spinning. We’ll talk about this next week, and the week after we’ll deal with the hostage comment I made at the beginning of this blog.
Are you in? Will you join me in becoming charter members of the 3to5 Club? We’ll do a website and all that crap later. Let’s get started. I’ve set up a meetup.com group for Denver (http://www.meetup.com/3to5Club/), and we’re going to have a charter meeting on Thursday, March 27 at 11:30pm at PanAsia Bistro in Lone Tree, CO. I would be happy to help you set up 3to5Club in your city as well – just leave me a comment.
I’d love to be the first graduate of the 3to5Club in 1 year, 11 months and two weeks from now, but I’m sure there will be a lot of people who will beat me to it. I hope so.
What’s your Business Maturity Date? What does your business look like that day, at that hour? Go public right here in the comments section and let’s take it from there. Speed of execution. I’m looking forward to “executing” that locomotive as quickly as possible.