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Watching our businesses or blogs grow is an exciting thing. Heck yeah it is! But small business growth doesn’t just happen – it takes all our free (and not so free) time. As entrepreneurs, we often live, breathe, sleep and obsess over our companies, for better or for worse; even those of us with exceptional time management skills can find our energy and strategies in the weeds from time to time.

So what can we do to make our small business growth happen in ways that work for us? After all, if I’m going to work for myself, my business better work for me!

Small business growth - Is a business plan worth it? Or go with the flow?  - PeppercornCreative.com | website design agency and blog & business mentor in Vancouver BC

“They” say before we jump into business for ourselves, we should have exceptional and well detailed business plans. There are thousands of guides on how to start a small business and generally, these should be a tool that helps your keep your head above water when the going gets rocky. Know what to do, when to do it and where to do if “plan A” eddies back…

I’ll tell you my secret to successful small business growth: Go with the flow.

It’s a lesson you learn white water rafting, surfing and working in bars – if the wine water be going one way, go with it. You’ll come up for air faster, find your limbs intact and though you may require a couple of extra strength advil the next day, you’ll also be somewhere new and exciting full of spectacular opportunities and new contacts.

Saying yes to the ebbs and flows of your business will open doors you never even thought of in the beginning. Saying yes will present moments of reflection and growth. Saying yes will help determine whether your company remains a trickle in the forest or a raging river of opportunities.

Say yes.

I started my business with the idea that social media strategy would be the central service and I’d offer blog based website design as a side project… Yeah, that’s changed. As it turns out, blog based web design is kind of a big deal and I’m pretty damn good at it. Digital marketing starts with a solid foundation – a good, user-friendly, accessible and attractive website. And I’m honored that I get to help my clients with that. So instead of fight the current and feel frustrated, angry and agonizingly breathless (not in a good way), I’m going with it – and it’s not terrible at all.

Water is the key to life – the lessons we learn in relation to it can help guide us in our business ventures to the most interesting and profitable possibilities while making time for the fun stuff in life.

What do you think? Stick to a business plan? Or go with the flow?

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26 Comments on Small Business Growth: Stick to A Business Plan or Go With The Flow?

  1. Patricia Weber
    July 16, 2013 at 2:54 pm (4 years ago)

    I like how you suggest, let go of resistance and practice more acceptance. That’s how I’ve come to define go with the flow. For certain it is easier. Great metaphor with the white water rafting!

    Thanks for the valuable content.

    Reply
    • kristygardner@gmail.com
      July 17, 2013 at 10:26 am (4 years ago)

      Thank you Patricia!

      Practicing acceptance is so important in so many areas of life. While you want to succeed and definitely have a plan, it’s also key to go with the flow…. unless you want to cause yourself a heart-attack. personally, not so much 😉

      Reply
  2. Cassi
    July 16, 2013 at 3:54 pm (4 years ago)

    I went white water rafting once but never again….

    You have to adapt your business to the changing times or you won’t survive. You must look at what your customer base wants and needs to determine the path you need to take to mold your business into something.

    You can always modify a business plan but can rarely save a sinking ship.

    Reply
    • kristygardner@gmail.com
      July 17, 2013 at 10:27 am (4 years ago)

      haha – I’m sorry to hear that Cassi! I love white water rafting!!

      Well said – and no one wants to be on a sinking ship. At least I don’t.

      Reply
  3. Ann
    July 16, 2013 at 7:00 pm (4 years ago)

    I think that having a business plan is a necessity; but it does need to be flexible. Like you say, you never know where an opportunity may take you!

    Reply
    • kristygardner@gmail.com
      July 17, 2013 at 10:28 am (4 years ago)

      True that Ann! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to reflect.

      Reply
  4. Krystyna Lagowski
    July 16, 2013 at 10:51 pm (4 years ago)

    Well, I think you may need to balance going with the flow with some structure. For myself, I always have a back-up plan and tell myself it isn’t the end of the world if a project goes through. Although we have control over our own time and work, we can’t always predict what is on the client’s agenda. So a little of both, maybe?

    Reply
    • kristygardner@gmail.com
      July 17, 2013 at 10:30 am (4 years ago)

      Absolutely Krystyna! That’s a good point – our clients can often dictate how our work days go. It’s important maybe in this respect to remember that they have their own agendas and bring their own experiences to the relationship – this could provide an opportunity for new doors to open, seeing things in a new light, or depending on how things are going… learning patience.

      Reply
  5. Barbara Hockley
    July 17, 2013 at 9:38 am (4 years ago)

    Go with the flow every time! I love the metaphors. A business plan is a great and necessary start – but change is inevitable (in my experience) and resisatance is futile (so they say). For some strange reason the picture of the elephant reminded me of giving birth (don’t ask!). It was like being on a helter skelter – resist the slide and hold onto the sides and it was goning to hurt – I went with the flow and it was exhilarating!

    Reply
    • kristygardner@gmail.com
      July 17, 2013 at 10:31 am (4 years ago)

      Thank you Barbara! I agree entirely!

      …..umm… remind me never to give birth. especially to an elephant. ouch.

      Reply
  6. Jeri
    July 17, 2013 at 10:00 am (4 years ago)

    I tend to be a go with the flow type of person, and that can have repercussions that impede progress, so I try to actively remind myself to work on a “real” plan.

    Reply
    • kristygardner@gmail.com
      July 17, 2013 at 10:32 am (4 years ago)

      It certainly can Jeri… I think we need to use a combination of both planning and plasticity, as the women above have said. If we’re too loose-goosy we run the risk of becoming lazy and drinking wine every day at 3PM…. not that there’s anything wrong with that 😉

      Reply
  7. Suzanne Fluhr (Just One Boomer)
    July 17, 2013 at 12:54 pm (4 years ago)

    I think you should probably start out with a REALISTIC business plan (or at least have a very good idea of what you’re trying to accomplish), but part of the plan should include some type of metrics or notion of how you are going to keep track of what’s going on and what’s producing the most income (revenue minus expenses—and your time is an expense). This will help you see the forest through the trees and be able to spot trends you need to be on top of.

    Reply
    • kristygardner@gmail.com
      July 17, 2013 at 1:00 pm (4 years ago)

      That’s a great point Suzanne! Keeping track of where your business is coming from is very important. Do you have any suggestions as to how this can be done?

      Personally, I use a simple spreadsheet and of course, color coding. I love my color coding 🙂

      Reply
  8. Grace
    July 17, 2013 at 4:57 pm (4 years ago)

    Go with the Flow is great advise, not only in business, but also in life!

    Reply
    • kristygardner@gmail.com
      July 18, 2013 at 8:30 am (4 years ago)

      Totally Grace – I agree completely. And if it isn’t going well, bourbon is always close at hand. Makes it much easier to relax 😉

      Reply
      • Grace
        July 18, 2013 at 8:57 am (4 years ago)

        Or a little red wine!

        Reply
        • kristygardner@gmail.com
          July 18, 2013 at 9:52 am (4 years ago)

          Nothing wrong with red wine at all, Grace! 🙂

          Reply
  9. Susan Cooper
    July 17, 2013 at 5:13 pm (4 years ago)

    I love this post. Many people go into business for themselves without putting enough thought into it. I believe there is a balance between a good solid plan but also you need to be flexible to go with the flow. As you mentioned time management pros can often get overwhelmed with all the daily things it takes to run a business. I do not know what I would do without the help of my VA. She gives me the vital time that I need to focus on the content I am writing. 🙂

    Reply
    • kristygardner@gmail.com
      July 18, 2013 at 8:33 am (4 years ago)

      Thanks Susan! Great point – sometimes running a successful business means knowing when to delegate and when to take control. Leaving some things to a VA can mean the difference between sinking or swimming.

      Reply
  10. Arleen
    July 17, 2013 at 5:51 pm (4 years ago)

    I hear all the time you need a business plan. Well I have been selling promotional products on the internet since the early 90’s and have a business plan but have learned that you have go with the flow. It has worked for me. Life is always going to throw you a curve ball. Catch it and move on

    Reply
    • kristygardner@gmail.com
      July 18, 2013 at 8:35 am (4 years ago)

      I’ve found the same thing Arlene. While I started one way, my business has gone another. It’s so important to plan but to be willing to change that plan as well if circumstances account for it. I love me a good curve ball – the key to catching it is to anticipate that it’s gonna shift and lean into it. If that makes sense 😉

      Reply
  11. Debra Yearwood
    July 19, 2013 at 12:00 am (4 years ago)

    Keeping yourself open to opportunities is smart. Good plans allow you to steer in the right direction and change course when needed.

    Reply
    • kristygardner@gmail.com
      July 19, 2013 at 7:26 am (4 years ago)

      I couldn’t agree more Debra! Planning not to plan might be a very valuable lesson in this sense.

      Reply
  12. Valerie Remy Milora
    July 20, 2013 at 3:53 am (4 years ago)

    Love the river rafting metaphor.. makes me realize how long it’s been since I’ve done that! The rafting that is. Need to put that on my calendar. As for business I love that you suggest going with the flow. Trying to hard to control and resist change as it comes our way does make it hard to grow. I sometimes feel like I get boxed in with blinders on… great advice. Thanks for sharing and I love the look of your blog, and your writing style 🙂

    Reply
    • kristygardner@gmail.com
      July 23, 2013 at 6:03 pm (4 years ago)

      Thank you Valerie! I think we all feel that way from time to time – it can be difficult to see what’s happening right in front of us. Luckily, we have each other to keep us honest 😉

      Reply

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