How small businesses can avoid flatlining with brand-building agency Rock Candy Media

As the CEO of a brand-building agency, I know every business owner who’s still in the game knows what it’s like when it’s just you and your computer and your entity that’s a sole proprietorship. It’s a lonely place to be. You have every naysayer wondering why you didn’t get a job with health benefits, a cushy 401(k), and a shot at that corner office.

Depending on your motivator, you either have a lot to gain or you have everything to lose. You left the cushy job and nothing about your entrepreneurial drive will make common sense to most. Everyone around you was less inclined to support your ambitions when the truth is that 22.5% of small businesses fail within the first year.

Right then, at the beginning of this entrepreneurial escapade, things seem like they couldn’t be more precarious. In fact, if all goes well, the stakes become much much higher.

Now, let’s jump ahead. You did it. Naysayers have gone by the wayside and you said “Later!” to them a long time ago. You’ve got actual years under your belt, and you look back upon that time with gratitude. They say that once you’ve made it, the beginning was the most fun. And it’s true, but I argue it’s because you didn’t realize what was about to happen when you grow: You’re responsible for employees being able to feed their families. Heck, you’re responsible for them being able to afford groceries.

You don’t go from your home office to your real office without growth–where the line indicating your revenue is constantly going up. The line going up is fantastic. It’s satisfying knowing your big bet is paying off. You feel it, and that feeling is transferred through the whole company. The opposite of that is the falling line where profits are shrinking, and the company is at risk. That produces an entirely different feeling that is nonetheless energizing. You have to fight to survive.

Then there’s the in-between, a line that is completely horizontal. A flatline doesn’t elicit the same excitement or dread. The bills are being paid, the employees are being paid, you’re being taken care of too. You don’t have to worry about staffing up or laying people off. It can be comfortable and can lead to complacency. As a brand-building agency, that’s the mental and financial space I fear the most.

Published in Fast Company’s HOW TO BE A SUCCESS AT EVERYTHING category.


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