The second stage in the Predictable Success Lifecycle is Fun. It’s an incredible time for the business. During this time, businesses often achieve double-digit and triple-digit annual growth as they break free from gravity and rocket out of Early Struggle.
The focus in Fun is all about mining the profitable, sustainable market you worked so hard to find in Early Struggle. This means sales, lots of sales. In fact, a business in Fun usually has to divisions (though they are typically informal) sales and sales support. If you aren’t selling or directly supporting or fulfilling purchases, you’re probably not going to be working at the company for long.
When I teach about Fun, some business owners mistake the label as “easy.” Easy is rarely the case. Instead, each week feels like a breathless sprint. As soon as you cross the finish line, you realize you need to start again for the next week. When you’re winning, the sprints are worth it. Your increasing sales and profits are the worthy reward of all your hard work.
Business isn’t necessarily easy in Fun, but winning is fun. It’s fun to lead a business in Fun. It’s fun to work in a business in Fun (Here’s an article about company culture in Fun). It’s also fun to work with a business in Fun. Businesses in Fun are nimble and agile; they are highly responsive to their customer’s needs. This allows a business in this stage to steal clients away from much bigger, more established businesses creating even more significant growth.
Getting into Fun
You’ll remember from the article on Stage 1: Early Struggle that to get out of Early Struggle, you need to find a profitable, sustainable market before cash runs out. You’ll know you’re in Fun if you can stay in the black for an entire quarter even while receiving a fair salary for your position.
For more on Getting into Fun, read Stage 1: Early Struggle
Staying in Fun
Remember those two routes I mentioned in the first article that lead to success? Fun is one of them. Fun is one of only two valid stages for your business to remain indefinitely (the other being Predictable Success).
For many business owners, Fun is as far as they would like to go. Often, they earn more than ever have before, and they have the freedom to do what they love. Click To Tweet
For many business owners, Fun is as far as they would like to go. Often, they earn more than ever have before, and they have the freedom to do what they love.This freedom maybe something in the business, sales, consulting, or product design.
It may even be something outside of the business. When appropriately structured, a business in Fun can run with very little input from its owner.
That said, staying in Fun can be a tricky business. As businesses grow, they become increasingly complex until that complexity overcomes the organization’s ability to fight through and win the day heroically. When this starts to happen systemically across the business, you’ve moved into Stage 3: Whitewater.
To stay in Fun, you need to keep out of Early Struggle and Whitewater, and you do that by focusing on sales while limiting complexity within the business. Here are the four things you need to do to make the most of your time in Fun.
- Focus on creating a consistent marketing and sales system for your existing market, then scaling it to multiple reps or even offices. Often this means transitioning the sales responsibility from the Founder to a sales team. It’s a tricky transition, but when done right, it can create incredible growth. Learn more about marketing here
- Keep other processes to an absolute minimum. Too much process will bog down and complicate an organization fast. Continue to resist the urge to over-process and keep a hard limit on employees who are not directly related to sales or fulfillment. Leaning on contractors is often a great strategy.
- Raise up, heroes. Hire and promote Operator types who have a bias toward action. You want to get A-players who think on their feet and know how to solve problems for customers creatively. Pay your top-performers well and share the stories of their heroic deeds with the whole company. We call this group Big Dog Operators, and they are critical if you want to optimize your time in Fun.
- Say “Yes,” a little less. In Early Struggle and even the beginning of Fun, you survived then thrived by saying “Yes” to just about everything. If customers were willing to pay for it, you’d find a way to deliver it. As the organization grows, one of the prime drivers of complexity is saying “Yes” to too much. If you keep your focus on your market and keep new products and services from getting out of control, you’ll be able to keep that additional complexity at bay.
If you are in Fun, you probably want to enjoy this time and stay there for as long as possible. There’s no rush to get into the next stage, Whitewater. Check out this course, Optimizing Your Time in Fun to learn more about these four steps and how you can apply them to your organization. If you enroll today, you’ll get immediate access to the Predictable Success Playbook for making the most of this great time for your business!
Getting out of Fun
Getting out of Fun really isn’t something you want to do.
Rolling back into Early Struggle has the obvious discomfort associated with low sales and lower profitability. A fall back into Early Struggle can be caused by some massive external factors, like the COVID-19 crisis in 2020.
However, more often than not, it is the result of decisions or actions made within the business that moves it out of its profitable, sustainable market. An example would be releasing a new product or service that serves a different market. Another example is releasing a related too soon, pulling too many resources, and momentum away from the existing business. Also, disruptions in a new or small sales team can knock a business back. That is why it is essential to develop a sales system that is consistently bringing in new business.
Finding yourself in Whitewater also has its pains. This isn’t a conscious decision to move forward. Instead, it is typically the conscious realization that the game has indeed changed. You can’t push harder and further to get through. You have to stop and re-work much of the organization from the ground up. This is what Whitewater is all about, and we’ll discuss it in great detail in the next article.
Again, if you are in Fun, you probably want to enjoy this time and stay there as long as you can. There’s no rush to get into the next stage, Whitewater. Check out this course, Optimizing Your Time in Fun. If you enroll today, you’ll get immediate access to the Predictable Success Playbook for making the most of this great time for your business!
If you think you are in Fun but aren’t quite sure, I’d like to encourage you to take the free Lifecycle assessment at https://bit.ly/Lifecycle-Quiz to find out for sure and to see around the corner at what is next for your business!