There Is No Formula For Building Your Business

The world out there makes it seems like building a business should be a linear process involving some kind of formula and multi-step process. Figure out your target market, your brand, your customer avatar, etc.  I’ve never seen it work that way.

I work with startup and early stage companies and every one of them has had their own unique set of twists, turns and growing pains. Their businesses evolve in surprising and unexpected ways and on timetables that no one can really predict.

Years ago, for example, I spent thousands of dollars on a program promising to teach me how to “scale” my law business. The content made logical sense, but I resisted implementing any of it, and the end result was wasted time and money.

When I quit the program and just focused on the business, I learned there was an enormous amount of foundational work required before I could even think about scaling.  And when I started doing that work, slowly, patiently, my business got far more satisfying.  I was serving my clients well, building something with care, that reflected my values, and I was doing it at a pace that left time for my studies and training in psychology.

Years later, I read these words by LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman: “If you want your company to truly scale, you first have to do things that don’t scale. You don’t start with a 100 million users, you start with a few.  So stop thinking big and start thinking small.”

It confirmed the central point of this article: each of us already has, built into us, the intelligence and judgment we need to guide our work.  When we focus on what’s in front of us, with care and attention, our mind helps us climb a learning curve, figure things out, in a way that it totally responsive to the circumstances at hand.  And in a way, no formula, book or

When we focus on what’s in front of us, with care and attention, our mind helps us climb a learning curve and navigate towards success.  It gives us ideas and next steps. It sends warning lights when we need to pause, and green lights when taking a calculated risk might make sense.

It helps us figure things out, in a way that it totally personal and responsive to the circumstances at hand. In a way, ultimately, that no formula, book or other person could ever replicate.

The deeper we get this, the more we slow down and rely on our grounding and intelligence to navigate the twists and turns of entrepreneurship with good judgment and common sense.  And that grounding — rather than any formula, concept, or strategy – is what makes all the difference. It is the secret sauce of effective entrepreneurial leadership.

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