What do you do when the weather report warns of an impending large-scale storm? You hit the hardware store for flashlights, batteries and candles, nail sheets of plywood over your windows, and make sure your storm cellar is ready for occupation. You buy gas for the generator if you have one, and you line up with your neighbors for milk and bread at the supermarket. In other words, you prepare. You may not be able to avoid the storm, but you do all you can to be sure you’re ready to ride it out safely when it hits.
Similarly, if you’ve addressed all three angles of the business triangle—people, process, and technology—during your start-up (or consolidation) phase so that they’re scalable, you’ll be in far better shape when the hypergrowth phase we call the Tornado hits your business. If you haven’t, you may not survive the Tornado’s wild ride.
Tornados are phenomenally exciting, but keep in mind that any storm, no matter how thrilling it may seem at the moment, can also be destructive—and the ones that blow in the fastest are often the most dangerous. A Category 5 hurricane that builds up over the ocean and then suddenly veers overland will often sweep rapidly across cities and towns—but during that short period of time, its effects are catastrophic. Houses will be destroyed and trees knocked down. Power outages will last for weeks. No one will be able to live in the region for weeks, even months. On the other hand, a Category
1 hurricane often moves more slowly. It hangs around and dumps a lot of rain. It will certainly cause some messes that will have to be cleaned up, but it’s a whole lot more manageable than a Category 5!
So, when your business gets swept up in a Tornado, keep in mind that the severity of the aftereffects can depend on how you’ve managed the upward curve. The more you can slow things down, the longer the Tornado will last. The deceleration point is inevitable—but by the time it comes, you want to dominate your market. This will give you the strength you’re going to need for what comes next.
And once you reach that next transition point, pay attention! Recognize what’s happening. Don’t keep going along the same way you were during the Tornado. The tyranny of the urgent may let up a little, but now you have other problems to address to make sure your Avalanche doesn’t drop too far, too fast. By planning intelligently for the next phase in your Business Storm Cycle, you can learn to work with it strategically (and don’t forget to stock up on batteries!)