Grow vs. thrive
I had a conversation today about the word “thrive”, and it struck me like a fiery arrow right between the eyes. Here I’d been talking about how I help businesses grow, but what I really meant was thrive.
The definition of the word ‘thrive’ is “to grow or develop well or vigorously; to prosper or flourish”.
It is really what we seek to achieve when we create or acquire anything that has the capacity for growth. Plants, pets, children, investment funds, science projects in our parents’ basement…
Your business is alive
What does it mean to thrive in a business? It means that you’re not just checking boxes and meeting/exceeding goals. It means that every part of your business seems to have life, that it grows like it’s an organism, with a heart and a soul. It means that all that it does breathes life into something else.
In particular, into the heart of its owner.
That’s what it means to thrive in business. But so many business owners are still just getting by.
Just getting by means checking boxes, chasing sales, rote routine and pervasive process. It means focusing on the bare minimum and staring off into space, seeking inspiration.
When it’s all about the money
See, we’re too used to aligning a business with commerce. A business exists just to make money, right? Well, not entirely untrue, but what we’re learning is that business that exists JUST to make money rarely actually thrives. It grows by brute force, repetitive routine, and strict adherence to what has worked in the past. It may grow on its bottom line, but it rarely thrives. And, that’s OK, if that’s what you’re into.
But if you are a solo entrepreneur or even a small business owner, chances are that you really want a business that thrives, because there is actually not that much of a boundary between our business and our *lives*. Business is becoming a means for delivering our gifts to the world. It’s a means of creative self-expression, of creating impact, of doing something other than making someone else some money.
We need to be inspired. We need life. We need every part of what we do in our precious and irreplaceable time to *matter*.
And here’s the extra special surprise… When your business thrives, it not only feels good, but it makes you more money.
That’s why I never promise you more money… because I know that when you’ve done all the things to make your business thrive, the money will come. So we focus on your foundation, and let the rest take care of itself.
So how do you make your business thrive?
The first thing I do with my clients is I help them create alignment in their business. Alignment means that every single thing you do supports what you value, your vision and your passions. You absolutely cannot thrive without alignment.
Every single day you are out of alignment, you are making it hard to keep going. It’s like walking through wet sand because all these pieces of your business are rubbing up against each other. Your energy is depleted and running a business feels like a chore.
At best, it’s ho-hum. At worst, it makes you want to cry tears of blood from clawing your eyes out every day.
Oh, you creatives are probably shrinking back right now and hissing like you’re a teen vampire and just saw sunlight. But here’s what I know… structure creates freedom, and I’ve got a whole bunch of converts who will shout this from the rooftops after fighting me tooth and nail until they finally saw the light.
Structure gives you the time and energy to focus on the business as a whole, rather than frantically chasing the pieces that never really fit together. Structure creates a backbone for all of the consistent work, so that you don’t recreate the wheel every time you go to do it.
Structure eliminates all the noise so you can focus on the creative aspects of your work.
Similarly, when you find what works, you need to create habits so that you can keep flourishing. Habits are activities you choose to adopt and develop to achieve a greater goal. Just like when we have plants or children, we develop habits so they can continue to thrive. Feeding, sleeping, cuddling and bathing – all important to thriving, and all important to growth.
Think of your business in the same way. Develop habits for the things that keep you in alignment and satisfy your values. Create habits because they are much easier than routines.
Growth takes time. Meaningful growth takes more time. Please never let anyone tell you differently. Please reject every insistence that you need to grow quickly, or reach your goals in record time.
There is no prize and there is no finish line. It’s a trap!
Pace yourself. Create an environment in which you can watch, learn, reflect, entrench, embed, nurture and teach. This is the kind of environment that a business thrives in, not the FOMO-laden jazz hands promotions that have infiltrated our channels.