Growing Pains - The Third & Fourth Year in Business!
Posted on February 14 2018
I bought a new car recently & the salesman was taking a keen interest in what I did for a living. Turns out he had a business degree & had run a pretty successful music business before leaving to sell cars. He asked me how long the business had been going & I told him 4 years.
"Well done!", he said, "It's normally that year between 3 & 4 that kills businesses."
"Really?", I replied (all you ever hear about businesses failing is the same old statistic of 50% failing in the first 5 years).
"Yeah, the third to fourth year of business is the toughest so if you've made it through that, you're doing well."
That comment has stuck with me since. When I thought about it, he was right. Last year WAS the toughest year for Rock The Frock. We moved into a new shop, gained new staff members, moved into franchising & gained a whole lot of stress & strain in the process. People often ask me how I do it all. "How do you have time?" "Wow, you're taking over the world". The real reason behind our quick expansion has been my willingness to give things a go & not worry about failing (within the remit of making sure the business stays profitable, of course, and securing my staff's jobs). I've always followed Richard Branson's advice of "Say yes & figure out how afterwards".
But, I have to be honest, last year was hard. Having a baby turn into a toddler added to the pressure - I simply CANNOT get work done with her around now so I have to be much stricter with my time & compartmentalise work & home life. But, that's a good thing and, while I still need to be forced to switch off on a weekend, I am better at saying "no" to work on my Nancy Fridays & focussing on her. But, there have been days when I've just wanted to give it all up & go get a job.
The third year seems to be a boom for a lot of businesses which, sadly can turn into a bust in the fourth. My third year was a boom but my fourth wasn't a bust - it was more of a massive expansion which cost me investment both in time & money. The sales growth of between years 3 & 4 wasn't as significant in the shop, and while I beat myself up about that for a while, I have to remember that the focus has been on GROWING the business, as a whole, for expansion.
Having my first franchise open last month & FOUR potential new branches opening across the UK this year, has been pretty incredible. For business owners, though, it's so easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day. The cashflow, the sales forecasts, the legal wrangling & general admin. It's sometimes hard to take a step back & appreciate what you've put in but also what you've achieved.
I guess it's not a coincidence that I'm posting this on Valentine's Day. I think it's about time us business owners gave ourselves a break & started appreciating ourselves as much as those around us. It was only four years ago that I started out on this crazy journey after leaving my very secure teaching job & risking it all in an industry I knew little about. After all, if we don't take a step outside sometimes & give ourselves a big old pat on the back nobody else will! So, here's to some self-love on Valentine's Day & a MASSIVE well done to anyone who's come through year 4 unscathed!