Grow With Intention

Resources to help you mindfully grow your business

You’re in the right place if…

  • You want to grow your business, but you’re not sure what your options are or which option will best suit your needs
  • You don’t want your business to get bigger than you can manage
  • You’re not sure what the ideal size of your business should be
  • You need help with marketing and promoting your business in an ethical way
  • You hate sleazy, spammy and salesy marketing tactics
  • You genuinely want your business to help more people

30 Questions

to Discover Your True Self

Download this free resource that includes 30 questions to help you better understand your true self. This is one of the first steps in better understanding your purpose, and your ultimate focus in life. 

What does it mean to grow with intention?

stop chasing growth at all costs

There is a commonly held belief in business, even more so with start-ups, that growth is the ultimate goal. Early stage investors are willing to sink millions, even billions, into new businesses, usually without any hopes of immediate profitability or return, but to simply grow the business and capture more market share.

The idea is that small fish can’t survive in a big pond, and the global world today is really a gigantic, connected ocean. Everyone wants to be a whale.

Mindful entrepreneurs don’t buy into that bull shit. We believe in being grateful for what we have, not desiring what we don’t. Small is manageable, growing too big can unnecessarily complicate your business and your life. Enough is enough.

There are costs associated with growing your business beyond what you need, and it’s typically your relationships and quality of life that suffer most.

Growing with intention is about understanding what ‘enough’ means for you, knowing your ideal size, and being satisfied when you reach it. It’s about being mindful of your ultimate purpose and priorities in life and not being seduced by the perception that more is better.  The opposite of growing with intention, is growth by default. You grow because you think you should, regardless of whether or not it’s in your best interest.

This can be VERY difficult to avoid in our culture as it is ingrained in every aspect of our economy. But it is possible. And it can be very rewarding for those who can commit to their purpose.

Why is it important?

Small is beautiful

The benefit of knowing your limit, and having the self-control to stop when you have enough, is that you get to appreciate what you have. So often we’re perpetually chasing ‘what’s next’ or focused on our next goal in the misconceived notion that we’ll be happier when…

…but it turns out that’s not true. We do get temporarily happier with more, but we also adapt quickly back to our normal state of being. And the urge comes back, and we keep chasing it.

As humans, we’ve evolved to always be searching, always be moving forward, always wanting more. Brene Brown coins this our ‘never enough’ culture and talks about how our fear of scarcity is ruining our lives. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We get to choose. We get to decide how we live our lives and we can escape the rat race by having a clearer understanding of what’s most important to us, what we need, and being content when we have enough.

We often loose sight of the beautiful moments that occur in the everyday, the joy, because we’re too busy chasing down the extraordinary we see in our future. Growing with intention is about pursuing what we value and ignoring what society expects us to value.

So how do you grow intentionally?

Know when enough is enough

How we determine our idea size is a personal choice. It depends on a number of factors including:

  • Your actual financial needs
  • What sort of impact you want to create with your business
  • Your personal ambitions and motivations
  • ...and most importantly, your purpose

If you don’t yet know your purpose, you won’t be able to figure this out. Luckily for all of you, I’m in the process of developing a new course, Purpose for Obsessive Planners, that will guide you through the process. It’s designed to be re-visited often and you’ll have access for life so that as you discover more about yourself, and what matters most to you, you can update and improve the clarity and definition of your own life’s purpose.

STEP 1: Determine your needs

Most of us give money too much power. We think it will make us happier (but it doesn’t). We go after it as if it’s the most important thing (but it’s not). So if you want to overcome its power, learn to know when enough is enough.

Keeping your purpose in mind, the first step is to figure out the ideal size you’d like your business to be in the next 1-3 years. If you’re a solopreneur, this step also involves looking at your personal financial situation and having a clear understanding of how much profit you need to make each year (and don’t forget about long term savings for retirement, etc.).  From there you can look at your business financials to determine how much revenue you have to generate to cover your business expenses and still have enough profit remaining to cover your personal expenses. Here is a good template you can use to quickly and easily forecast income and expenses over 3 years to better understand your financials. [coming soon].

This should lead to your minimum revenue target. But you don’t have to stop there.

Intentional growth doesn’t have to mean being less ambitious.  If your mission is to impact the lives of millions through your venture, you can intentionally grow aggressively. But if your mission is to spend more time with your family, keep in mind the trade offs necessary to endlessly growing your business.

Think about your life plan, when are the periods of your life you want to focus on your career, focus on earning income? Do you want to be in this mode forever or for a set number of years? If it’s a limited window, be intentional about growing at the right time, and knowing when the time comes to slow down or focus on other priorities.

Write down your short and long term objectives and share them with your partner or closest friend that you know will be around to help you stay accountable, when you need them to.

Here are some additional tips and resources to gain clarity about your actual needs:

STEP 2: Analyze your growth options

Analyze your business to determine what’s working and what’s not. Where is your revenue coming from? Where are you spending all your time? What activities do you enjoy doing and which do you despise? 

Analyze your market to better understand where future growth opportunities may exist. Are you fed up with social and search channels changing algorithms and distorting your business model? Do you notice more and more of your customers complaining about the same problem or bringing up the same issues to you? Are there any shifts in your industry you predict as a result of changing laws, societal preferences or lasting trends? 

Analyze your growth options. Once you know more about what’s working and not for you inside your business, and how the outside forces of the market might affect your business. You can begin to understand and analyze the growth options that will work best for you. 

I like to use the Ansoff Matrix which is an easy way to consider all growth strategies at once. This can pretty quickly narrow down your focus, so that you can spend more time analyzing the options within the particular strategy that makes the most sense. And more importantly, it instantly limits your thinking on the strategies you know you should avoid.

Ansoff Matrix

There are basically four categories of growth opportunities to consider. Because it is often easier to create new products and services than to find a new market (either a new customer segment or a new geographic location), the options below are listed in order from least risky (and therefore easiest), to most risky (and therefore should be considered last, in most cases):

Growth option
Description
Online business example
Offline business example
Market penetration
Offering your existing products and services to your existing market
Expanding your marketing efforts to reach more of your existing target customers with the products you already have. This is the easiest and less risky way to grow your business, and a good recommended starting place.
Product development
Offering new products and services to your existing market
Creating a new online course that still meets the needs of your existing target market
If you’re a real estate agent, begin offering property management services to your investor clients
Market development
Offing your existing products or services to a new market
Either adding a new customer segment or adding a new revenue stream (i.e. expanding to small businesses if you already target solopreneurs or adding affiliate links to your blog where you already run advertising)
Expanding to a new physical location (i.e. if you’re a gym this is just opening up a new gym in a new neighborhood)
Diversification
Offing new products and services to a new market
Adding a new digital property to your portfolio (i.e you currently operate a food blog, this would be creating a new and separate parenting blog)
Expanding a catering business from breakfast and lunch platters at corporate offices to making in-home dinners for busy families

Every strategy requires different resources, involves a different level of risk, and is best suited for a different stage of venture. For those reasons and more it is recommended to choose just one strategy at a time. If you try to do too many things at once, you’ll fail at everything. Keep it simple.

Once you know which strategy is best suited for your venture. The fun can begin. It’s time to brainstorm ideas. I like to use sticky notes, with one idea per note. That way it’s easier to prioritize them later. 

For each idea, the goal of the next step is to determine the overall value of each opportunity and consider it against your liklihood of success. For example, if you think you could make an additional $50,000/year by offering a new course and you’re 75% confident you can pull this off successfully, the net value of the opportunity would be $37,500. So many people fail to account for the likelihood of success (the risk, time, and money involved in achieving success). This is a common practice in developing sales pipelines, but few people consider it when evaluating their own growth opportunities.

If you’re a one woman show without a lot of resources, you can just subjectively figure this out by giving each a couple of minutes of thought. If you’re a growing small business with a bit more resources, I would recommend actually modeling this out. In the coming months I’ll be putting together a complete guide for how to do this. If you’re interested in learning more, sign up for updates here

There are many ways to make a decision about which options are best. But at the most basic level, you should do the following:

  • Determine the financial value of each opportunity (as discussed above)
  • Determine the intangible value of each opportunity (as in how much you'll enjoy it, or how much value it'll bring to your customers or society in general)
  • Prioritize the list based on your work purpose and your short and long term growth objectives
  • Start with the first item on the list, and focus only on that till it's complete, then move on

STEP 3: Determine your growth plan

Once you know your growth strategy, and have prioritized and/or chosen your best option(s), you can start to put together your game plan.

First you want to establish expectations by determining some specific growth goals. Which metrics, that you can easily and affordably track, will best help you define success? You’ll want at least one, but no more than 5 key indicators so that you can monitor and adjust your performance as needed. Typical indicators include things like:

  • $ sales or revenue target
  • # of customers, email subscribers, social followers, etc.
  • % growth from the same time period last year
  • # of units sold (particularly useful for digital downloads or online shops with limited inventory around a similar price point)
  • $ average sales per customer (if your goal is to get each of your customers to spend more money, either by raising your rates or up-selling them to new or higher value products)

Growth goals should be SMART, as in:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time bound

Next consider the marketing tactics and other action items that will help you achieve your goals. It’s pretty easy to Google some solutions and find a myriad of tactics, but many of them are sleazy, can be considered unethical, and take advantage of your current and future customers. That is a bad long term solution. It’ll deteriorate your brand, weaken your relationship with your customers, and ultimately leave you feeling a bit…empty.

A better approach is to be mindful of your customer’s needs and offer them value at every opportunity you have. Research continually shows that customers make purchase decisions based on how much they trust that brand. So be mindful of how you’re building trust and adding value to your customers lives.

Choose tactics that build trust, empathy and demonstrate authenticity with your brand.

Some action items just require your time, others need a budget, but for each, determine how much time and money is needed

And finally, put it all down on a timeline in a plan. I discuss how I do this on the Planning Your Future page and encourage you to read that section for more. 

STEP 4: APPRECIATE WHAT YOU HAVE

You obviously want to check back on your progress early and often and adjust your plan as needed. If something isn’t working, change it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, adjust what you need to. It’ll take a bit of time to figure it all out, but you’ll get there.

Whatever you do, don’t get caught up in the game of running at full speed ahead mindlessly. Be grateful for what you have and appreciate the success you’ve found instead of focusing on all the things you don’t yet have. 

The final step in our process is to focus on tightening up your business, streamlining things and improving efficiency so that you have more time for the things that matter most. Are you ready to work smarter, not harder?

Popular Resources TO GROW WITH INTENTION

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Ways & Meaning is a website designed for mindful entrepreneurs. But what does that mean anyway? And why does it matter? Well let me tell you, mindful entrepreneurship is the act of being intentional about following your dreams. This article is the ultimate guide to understanding this definition, the characteristics of what makes a mindful entrepreneur and the benefits of choosing this path for your business or venture.

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I sure hope so, because that's what I'm building my entire business around 🙂 This article from Fast Company validates my belief that growth is good, when intentional, not just for the sake of growth. That it can be good to stay small, to have 'good enough' goals, that the need for unsustainable growth is one of the biggest problems with our current economic system.

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Ready for the next Step?