I’ve always had trouble fathoming those that own businesses in low growth industries. I’m not being pious, or looking down on anybody–this is just my own thought processes–but whoever got rich running a gas station, sandwich deli, low-priced hair salon, mini-mart, or any number of other such businesses? I’m not talking about the few that buy up multiples of such types of stores as an investment. That I get. But those that become content in an industry where they know it will never make them considerably more financially well off I don’t get whatsoever. Almost any place I go I’m thinking about the financial prospects of such a business, thinking about overhead, potential gross income, profit margins and I start to wonder if this is a business I would or could ever spend my life doing.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a person driven by greed, or even primarily by “success”… I put God and family first, but I also don’t shy away from wanting to be successful in the traditional (American) sense. Someone asked me my definition of success recently and I responded: Life, Health and Happiness. Life and health are easily determined, but happiness is pretty darn vague, and I deliberately answered that way. What makes me happy?
On a professional level, my job (usually) makes me happy. I enjoy the struggle for success, which is, in my own mind, a destination that I will probably never fully achieve. But that’s the way I like it, because no matter how successful I am, I’m content with where I am but also not so content that I don’t continue the struggle to be more successful tomorrow than I am today. That’s why I couldn’t survive in a no- or low-growth industry. I have to see the potential of being greater tomorrow than where I currently am today. And to get there, I must always be growing not just my business but personally as well.
The other day I read these three reasons why growth should matter:
- Gifting without growth produces ineffectiveness.
You can be great–even the best–at something, but if you never try to improve yourself beyond that it won’t be long before you find yourself surpassed by others. Think of any world record that was achieved. All past world records, with the exception of the current, have been beaten. The same with personal and business growth. As soon as you become complacent where you are someone will come a long who isn’t and when they break the current records, or become better than you at what you do, they’ll be the one that people turn to in stead of you.
- Growth prevents stagnation.
Everybody goes through down periods, but if you are constantly striving for growth, those periods will come less often and disappear more quickly. Growth has its own momentum, you start growing its easier to keep growing. Only when you stop do you stagnate. Then it becomes much harder to start growing again.
- Continuous improvement guarantees success!
If you keep reaching for the goal you will eventually reach it. It’s inevitable. Practice may not always make perfect, but it gets you a lot closer to it than those that don’t practice. You can never go wrong trying to improve. Never.
And while I may not see the growth potential in a gas station or a deli, those who do because that’s what they love to do certainly can see the potential. You just need to decide if making a good sandwich is enough or if you want to strive to make the best sandwich… or provide the best customer service, the most cutting edge hair styles, etc. Where ever you are, whatever your niche, look for those opportunities for growth. Find them and attack them with vigor. I have no doubt that once you do, you’ll see endless opportunities before you.