Have you ever created a personal fitness program that backfired? Maybe you decided to lose those love handles and whip yourself into shape. So, you went on a juice diet that left you feeling dazed and starved, and you bought yourself some “magic bullet” piece of exercise equipment guaranteed to work out every muscle in your body at the same time. Sure, it had been years since you’d really exercised, but you pitched yourself into your new workout routine with all flags flying, adding repetitions or laps or miles onto your workout beyond what you really should have done.
How’d that go? Well, unless you’re bionic, you probably got up the morning after that first hard workout feeling like you’d been rolled downhill in a barrel. Was fitness really supposed to feel this bad? To heck with it; let the love handles stay. So, that pricey piece of exercise equipment wound up getting sold at a garage sale, along with that juicer.
It’s a lot like what happens in the phase of the Business Storm Cycle I call the Tornado, that hypergrowth thrill ride when your product or service suddenly takes off, and sales go through the roof. The faster you shoot up the acceleration curve of the cycle, though, the faster you’re likely to drop on the other side. The faster your production outruns your back office, the faster your Tornado will turn into an Avalanche, the downturn phase of shrinking margins and falling profits.
The rule here is a lot like the rule for your physical health: if you practice moderation, you can minimize the pain. If you push too hard, the pain will probably be a lot more severe when it hits—and it will probably hit sooner than if you had exercised moderately, habitually eaten healthy foods, and didn’t try to do it all in a week.
When it comes to the business cycle, the ideal, then, is to stay in the Tornado as long as possible to get that growth while you can – and just like with your physical health, the way to do this is to practice moderation. Keep that upward curve you see on the graph from becoming too steep; try to keep it gradual so that you can keep up better with demand (and avoid the tyranny of the urgent). If you’ve addressed all three angles of the business triangle – people, process, and technology – during your start-up (or consolidation) phase so that they’re scalable, you’ll be in far better shape!