Am I alone in thinking that 2013 has the feel of the ‘end of an era’ about it? People who have been big players in my life have passed away, or look like they will before too long – my lovely dad, my mum’s best friend, Maggie Thatcher, Prince Philip maybe…and of course the wonderful Nelson Mandela who is in a critical condition as I write. The retirement from football of big names like Sir Alex Ferguson, Paul Scholes and Michael Owen has only added to my sense of a ‘changing order’.
For me personally, this year has been a challenge, and I have to admit to struggling in recent weeks, to see the many positives in my life. It’s not been a barrel of laughs, but I did have a chuckle when I spoke to my wonderful friend Boydy, (think ‘Frankie’ off the telly, but a little older and a Macmillan nurse) who explained to me that I was simply going through the grieving process.
Oh my life, there really is a process for everything! Five stages to the grieving process apparently, and you have to go through all five. You can’t try and skip over, or avoid…you have to push through, take what comes, do what you must…as Boydy put it, you simply have to ‘do the work of grief’.
Knowing about this process made me feel a little better, and certainly less of a pathetic wimp. It also got me thinking about the similarity with business…the stages you have to go through to grow a business and how often you just have to knuckle down and do the hard yards to get to where you want to be.
So many business owners start out with a very clear vision of where they want to be. It’s exciting, they’re passionate about it, and they get stuff ‘out there’ that gets them off to a very successful start. These are the good times, like the early days of any passionate relationship, it just doesn’t feel like work at all.
It’s only when they want to grow, to move up to the next stage of their business journey, that they realise that the building blocks of process and systems are not in place to take them there. There’s no going forward without them – if they try the whole business will fail – they simply have to ‘do the work of building a business’.
Those who get how crucial process and systems are business success, also get how liberated they will be from the day to day of their business by having them in place. They understand that if they put in the hard yards now, work through the sometimes painful process of building and refining effective systems, and developing their people to work effectively with them, they will reap the rewards of business growth, and move one stagecloser to delivering on their vision.
Like reaching the top of a difficult climb…the pain of getting there is always worth the view from the summit.
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