Towards a comprehensive growth model

After starting a business, things change. You realize that the garage days are over and that you need to make a decision - do we want to grow this leading a market? Or do we let it be as it is. As entrepreneur my DNA is set to growth and I like to share what happened to my company after we have shaped vision and mission more clearly.

Early 2017 we had 80 people working for the company. I was one of the leaders always thinking about strategy (vs. reactive things based on the day-to-day business). I was often asked: where do you and your company (which has been the same for many years) want to be in 5 years. With help of a mentor (I will write about the idea of mentoring later) I have developed a multi-dimensional growth model that helped me to further grow the company, look for growth capital, and finally sell it. I will outline the key ideas in the following:

A natural starting point are the financials. You know your year-on-year growth from the past, you know your costs, and based on that data you can project how the future might look like. You can use conservative data (organic growth - we had an average YoY growth of 25% over several years) and more aggressive curves assuming that you can invest in certain areas.

And this leads directly to follow-up questions like driven by bottleneck thinking: what hinders me to further grow the company and what do I need to do closing the bottleneck? If I do that, what would be the next bottleneck? And so on. A second layer is: what would unleash new revenue streams that you don't have today (new products, new sales territories, etc.) and how do you get there?

I found that besides financial planning (revenue, cost, margin) the following dimensions should be considered: people, go-to-market approach, portfolio, innovation, and delivery. I will write on those topics later.

Such a comprehensive growth model helps you to better understand your company. You will find out the different dimensions that are interdependent and that changes on one end have an impact on other ends. Understand that and you get into control of your planning and execution. Such a model is also not static but helps you to move forward strategically and adjust it whenever needed. I will talk about working with the model, too.

Murder for coffee withdrawal

Coffee has been a part of my life since I was in college, back in the late 90s. I could only survive so many lectures in which the professor made little effort and which were therefore just boring. Later, at work, coffee was a companion for many exciting hours when we were researching something new at university, inventing something at the company or working on a tricky deal. In the morning, coffee is part of the wake-up routine and at meetings (now via web session) it is still an integral part. At the weekend, a good coffee is part of an indulgent breakfast. So why on earth would you want to get off coffee? I did and I want to report on it here (yes, I survived it!).

Coffee belongs to the sgt. stimulants. We do not need them to survive, but consume them because they simply do one thing: they taste good and they provide (short-term) happiness. This is also the reason for the danger of addiction, which varies depending on the stimulant. But that's not why I gave up coffee, because I love drinking coffee. It was rather a recommendation in the context of a 1-week cure fast to do without any stimulant. And I can therefore confirm that coffee is a) addictive and b) giving it up can lead to real withdrawal symptoms. In my case it was mainly persistent and sometimes severe headaches, but also restlessness, followed by listlessness and a certain irritability. This only got better after 2-3 days, but I managed it with a lot of discipline. At least for one week.

What has it done for me? I see (at least) the following advantages:

  • Conscious perception of body and mind: You learn to pay more attention to the signals and to act accordingly.
  • Concentration: focused work is also possible without coffee. Take a break to enjoy your coffee instead of drinking gallons of it.
  • Natural flow: without coffee you learn to follow the flow of your biorhythm. Work in the high, rest in the low.
  • Better sleep: for me, coffee works 100% and I can't fall asleep if I have another cup after a certain time. Without coffee I can simply sleep better and recharge the batteries.

What's the next step?

Forever giving up coffee and other stimulants. I'm too much of a hedonist for that (another topic for another article). However, the planned and controlled withdrawal has taught me mindfulness (another topic!) for pleasure: to enjoy pleasure consciously . I've since significantly reduced the amount of coffee I drink, and I've been enjoying every cup double and triple ever since. For me, this now applies to many other indulgences and foods as well. If you ever get an idea like that, let me know if you've managed to do it without making a killing.