Ahh, you’ve arrived, but it hardly looks like the destination you thought it would be. Instead of smooth sailing and fewer hours as a reward for years of hard work and dedication, work hours extend beyond what is possible, and it feels like the business is being held together with duct tape and glue. Frankly, it’s a little chaotic and a lot stressful.
How did you get here? Like most entrepreneurs, it was likely by default, not by plan, even though you had your sights set on a brighter destination from the beginning. One thing you’re sure of — it’s not what you thought it would be.
Welcome to “The Messy Middle.”
Defining The Messy Middle
The Messy Middle is the time in your business between start-up and smooth sailing. It generally occurs at around $350K -$500K, then about $750K to $1M, and once again at approximately $3-4M.
It’s often punctuated by stagnant or slowed growth, dwindling cash flow, a withering talent pool, and missed opportunities.
The exhaustion experienced by you and your team from what was once temporarily extended work hours is now untenable.
Not only is there no time to pause to think strategically to make clear, data-based decisions, but the cracks are widening, and critical pieces of the business are vanishing.
At this point in your business, you realize that what got you here is no longer working. The strategies you use to build your business won’t get you to the next level.
Surviving The Messy Middle
Even though you’re drowning in seemingly unsolvable complications and problems, The Messy Middle is survivable.
Start with a deep breath and realize, first and foremost, that you’re not alone. Even though it may not be reassuring given your current situation, every business enters this unavoidable phase of growth and development. Whether or not an organization passes through to the next level depends on the decisions and actions going forward.
Muffling The Messy Middle
You might think you could have avoided this — if you had only known. But unfortunately, the sad truth is that there is little information available about this stage of business growth and development for most entrepreneurs.
Frankly, I don’t understand the lack of knowledge in the business environment, which is why I’m starting the conversation. It’s one we need to have that is long overdue.
Most business journals focus on larger organizations, but only 6% of all business enterprises fit that profile. Even as a member of The Messy Middle, you make up 19%, with the remaining 75% comprised of stage one organizations.
The Messy Middle is a natural part of the business growth and development continuum. But, sadly, a colossal information gap exists between startup, stage one business growth and development, YOU, and the corporate behemoths. Moreover, it’s vital for solving your enterprise’s problems.
Plus, most entrepreneurs who are members of this elite club known as The Messy Middle are either too busy or utterly exhausted, with little time to learn, study, and share their dilemmas.
You want proven strategies to stop the stall, turn the momentum around, and get to the next level.
For further insight into The Messy Middle, read: What No One Tells An Entrepreneur About Breaking Through a Business Plateau.
Thriving The Messy Middle
Interrupting and moving through a stall requires new knowledge and skill for entrepreneurs. You can no longer rely upon the know-how and expertise that got you to this point of business growth. This challenge is especially true during difficult economic times.
Although your chosen strategy is business-dependent, there are several situations to address, such as:
- Insufficient access to resources needed to succeed, like money and talent.
- Missing growth plan.
- Limited cash.
- Inadequate deployment of resources such as staff, time, and money.
- Burnout and fatigue, yours and your team.
Regardless of the underlying factor contributing to your plateau, you can elevate your business above the current chaos. It’s a balancing act to test the boundaries of what is possible, understand the limits of your business, and maximize its potential.
We’re here to help you make the most of your business. If you need advice on where to grow next or just a listening ear, we’re happy to chat.