So, what exactly does growth mean?
The self-employed are smart, quick to adapt and passionate about making their ideas a reality. What sets them apart is their motivation for growth – but what exactly do we mean by growth?
The ABCs of the g-word
Let’s start from the beginning. To realise their dreams, the self-employed and the self-starters of the world take financial risks and work long hours; building their businesses day-by-day from the ground up. The self-made path certainly isn’t for everyone.
So, why choose such a bumpy road? In one word. Passion. It’s the drive to achieve and unwavering commitment that inspires these ambitious individuals into action.
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Finding fulfilment and fun in the success and even failures of their days, self-starters take the long view. When things are good, they’re real good. Smart, quick to adapt and passionate about making their idea a reality, it’s a self-belief that sees them blaze new trails; a fervour that inspires others to join them.
What sets these solo flyers apart from the pack is the will and courage to commit. They’re in it for the long haul. What sets them apart from each other is their motivation for growth: success, social conscience or lifestyle betterment.
Whether growth is about financial returns, new business opportunities, community growth or lifestyle freedom, the time is ripe for ambitious self-starters. Understand your motivations for growth, and you can reach the milestones you’re looking to achieve.
Let’s understand the different definitions of growth by looking at three small business personas.
Growth and the serial self-starter
Start a business, grow it until you can sell it, and repeat. So goes a year or three in the life of the serial self-starter. Where the thrill of startup life is too appealing to only do once, this individual is known for starting new ventures throughout their career. Driven by successive growth, as a serial entrepreneur you “want to challenge yourself to do it again,”(1) says Forbes contributor Patrick Hull. The long-game: capital growth. Always building upon previous successes, the serial small business mind understands the value in their failures because risk is often directly related to reward.
But what’s the reality? Most businesses do not make their riches in their first year of operations or even in their first five years of business. It’s often an uphill climb. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, but it does mean other values may need to take a back seat. Despite this, when a good idea, good execution and good timing combine, a committed self-made business person can find more success. Stay realistic and you’ll avoid frustration on your journey to the profit margin.
Growth and the social conscience self-starter
The social conscience business owner puts community over profit, meaning growth is about protecting and nurturing ‘human capital’. They have a desire to give customers the opportunity to help solve issues they care about, whether that’s through sustainable products or even charity-driven brands. Forbes Journalist Kesha Cash says socially conscious companies that “are closest to the customers they are serving, and who are relentless about putting them first”(2) truly succeed. The social conscience starter gives ‘purchasing power’ a fresh perspective, with a purchase helping a cause both the customer and business owner care about.
Applying what they do well to what they care about, the community-orientated self-employed believe the most valuable use of time and money is to give back. Money is not their primary goal, it is purely a function of the business ambitions. However, in a Forbes article, co-founder and managing director at VilCap Investments Victoria Fram warns: “there is a sense that if you are working in a realm that really matters to you and is mission-aligned that that should be enough.”(3) While your desire to make a difference may be beyond doubt, the challenge can be securing enough capital to retain a hardworking team that will set you and your business up for the long haul.
Growth and the lifestyle entrepreneur
Quality of life comes first for the lifestyle entrepreneur. Driven by a fierce desire to shun financial gain in favour of growing more slowly, their main focus is ‘living their best life’. Forbes says that while many lifestyle entrepreneurs are financially successful, they don’t think about having investors, a board of directors, or going public.”(4) Their aim is to make a living and earn to support their chosen way of life. Whether it’s residing in a city like Melbourne or a coastal spot like Bali, work doesn’t shape life, it fits around it. These agile businesses, often popular with young people or people with families, include e-stores, design studios and tech start-ups. The self-made may seek to base themselves somewhere warm and laidback, or somewhere that allows them to prioritise the ‘stuff that matters’. For many, that’s “more time with friends and family; for others, it’s travel and adventure. You get to decide,” explains entrepreneur expert Sean Ogle, in his Forbes article ‘7 Reasons Most People Should Build Lifestyle Businesses, Not Startups’.(5)
While some view lifestyle entrepreneurship as a passive form of business, it should be noted that the time and effort of aligning important factors takes both muscle and mind. These include selecting the right people to work with, managing technology to make life easier, achieving the right mix of growth and control and – of course – making money.
And because these individuals are not clocking in or out, it also requires a lot of self-discipline. To keep business running smoothly, a travelling lifestyle entrepreneur needs everything from a quiet room to reliable WIFI connection. No matter their location, making a living online still means navigating all sorts of time zones – from Sydney and Hong Kong to the Pacific Islands. For these intrepid freelancers, however, the life rewards are second to none.