How fast can you grow?

rate-of-growth.png Everyone seems to be in a hurry these days.

Perhaps it’s the media and stories we see which give us that impression. Stories of companies that have shot to success, overnight celebrities and competition winners who leap the queue to create a personal brand in a very short period.

Many businesses that start up seem to have a growth mindset that believes in building a customer base fast, scaling themselves quickly and getting to a point where a larger player in the market will see them as a competitor or a source of innovation and snap them up, enabling the founders to exit with a nice payout.

This is the rocketship option.

The alternative is a business that starts out serving customers. It develops incrementally, adds capability and resources, reinvests in its core business and, as a result, grows over time.

This, perhaps, is the walking option.

If you want to reach the stars fast, the rocket is the way to go. Get in, strap on, start your engines and hold on for the ride.

At the same time, there are a few pre-requisites.

First, you need to build your rocket. You need the machine itself, the launching pad, the control centre and the army of people needed to keep everything going.

Then you need fuel, enough to get you first off the ground and then to keep you in the air.

All that takes money and resources up front – which you need to borrow or invest in the business.

The slower way is to get a backpack, fill it with the things you have or need and get walking. Every day you do a little bit more distance.

That needs less money up front, but you have to put in the daily effort required to move forward.

It might seem that the rocket is clearly the better way to get there. Time is money, after all, and why get somewhere slowly when you can get there faster?

Well, the one thing to remember about rockets is that you need enough fuel to escape the earth’s pull. Run out of fuel and things are going to end very badly. Startups use the term “burn-rate” for a reason.

As a six-year old will tell you, if you want to reach the stars and you have the two options open to you, the rocket will get you there fast, but the walk is safer.

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