Control before growth

For four years now, part of my life has been the running of Bitesize Irish Gaelic.

Life has changed over that time. The feeling of falling behind on things that “must be done” has only increased with time.

The feeling didn’t even improve with working full-time on the project for six months, funded by the Irish state.

To improve and build a project, there’s always pressure from different sides: market it, build new features, keep up with email, track its accounts, develop new content.

Customers being ignored

Tim Conly, an internet marketing consultant, recently made the point that businesses work so hard to grow that they run out of time to take care of their customers. Customers leave because they’ve been ignored.

My management of Bitesize Irish Gaelic goes through phases, but I’m currently in one of those tough spots on falling behind.

Customers have emails in my inbox that I haven’t replied to in two weeks. We have a forum that I usually don’t get to participate in. A bug for new members was live for about 10 days while I knew of it, and it was fixed for a week before I went live with it. The company’s accounts of the past 10 months are only getting processed now.

Tim’s answer is to systematise your processes. Scott Adams of Dilbert fame is of the same opinion.

Before growing, Tim says you need to first get a hold of how effective your current business practices are. If you don’t have the bandwidth to be in control of your current business, there’s not much point in jumping onto new approaches.

Control before growth, robustness before anti-fragility

Nassim Taleb’s book Antifragile formalised this thought for me.

He says that there is a linear progression between fragility (where volatility will harm you), to robustness, and finaly to anti-fragility (where you will benefit from volatility, at least to a point).

For a business or project to be robust, I see that there needs to be control.

You can’t grow into wild success without being first in control. You can’t be a thriving business without first being robust. You probably won’t acheive sustainable growth if you’re regularly fragile.