Do you invest time thinking about updating and refining your vision for your business? Or are you so caught up with running the everday operation that you have lost sight of things that aren’t on your calendar for the week?150px-Thomsons-gazelle

In his book titled Scaling Up, Verne Harnish talks about the life cycle of companies. He calls new ventures “mice”. Harnish goes on to say that 96% of businesses that survive past startup stay mice. Think about the intention – or lack of vision in some cases – that keeps companies small.

  • Some business owners choose not to manage anyone, or to have to worry about the business supporting payroll.
  • Some businesses are local, even superlocal, and that’s part of the design of the business. To serve a micro market in the exact way that the market needs to be served.
  • In some instances the businesses never really generate the volume of cash flow that would support growth.
  • And in other cases the founder and/or other key people in the business are lacking in some key talent, skills, or training that they would need to grow the company.

Harnish calls the middle of the company life cycle “gazelles”. This is the part of the business’s life that is dedicated toward substantial growth, which we’ll define as growing to $10 million or more.  A “gazelle” business has to:

  1. Attract and keep the right People
  2. Differentiate the company through it’s Strategy
  3. Execute the strategy flawlessly
  4. Generate and maintain adequate Cash

Eventually large businesses, which Harnish calls “elephants” are so big that they mostly screw up what they have built. Perhaps they think they are, in contemporary parlance, “too big to fail,” but they forget about the four principles of the scaling up phase of the business.

Now back to you.  You make decisions every day that influence whether you are going to remain a mouse, choose to be a gazelle, or thunder around in elephant mode. If you are not consciously deciding, through a written planning process that looks longer than one budget year, you are deciding subconsciously. Your habits of working hard rather than smart, or of deciding to knock off before the day is done or the goals are met, or of settling for “good enough” are doing the choosing for you.  Is that really what you want? Ohttp://http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/8a/Thomsons-gazelle.jpg/150px-Thomsons-gazelle.jpgr do you have a different vision for yourself and your business?