Chapter 3: Fun
In this chapter, we examine what it means to be in the Fun stage of growth. During Early Struggle, the focus was on surviving. Now, the business begins to thrive.
During Fun, the sky’s the limit – there’s a renewed sense of optimism and energy. The organization is small and nimble, so whatever the customer needs, they get.
This is the time when myths and legends are built. Sales go through the roof, and the Big Dogs responsible begin to build “sweat equity” with the founder/owners.
Of course the double- or triple-digit growth of Fun isn’t without danger or consequences. In some cases, ambitious owners overextend by opening too many new offices too fast, or thinking that none of their ventures will fail.
For those who do navigate this stage wisely, the complexity of the organization inevitably increases as more and more employees/layers of management are added to accommodate continued growth.
Eventually, balls begin being dropped and the unthinkable happens – customers are let down. Soon the organization is kicked out of Fun and into Whitewater. That is, unless a conscious decision is made to stay in Fun permanently, and the necessary next steps are taken.
Use the links below to click through the resources to access the resources for Chapter Three.
They will help you with determining whether an organization is actually in Fun, how to make the most of it, as well as how to prepare for what comes next.
Chapter 3 Resources
Interview: Gregg Pollack
In this interview, Envy Labs founder Gregg Pollack shares the valuable lessons he learned while taking his company through Early Struggle and into Fun. From the importance of managing cash flow and how he did so, to finding the right people and learning the best way to delegate. You’ll also hear the top three things he would tell someone who is starting a new business today.
Avoiding the Artisan Trap
When an organization is led by a Visionary/Operator who can easily switch between these two roles, there’s a danger of falling victim to the Artisan Trap.
What happens is, during Early Struggle this leader uses their charismatic, passionate Visionary side to bring in sales.
However, once the orders begin piling up, this person switches to Operator mode and begins preparing/delivering what’s been sold. The problem is, while they are doing this, sales stall because they’re no longer out there selling.
It becomes a vicious cycle of selling and delivering that prevents the business from growing.
The solution? The Visionary needs to surround him/herself with first one, then a team of Operators. This way, the Visionary can continue to bring in sales while the Operators make sure that the customers’ needs are fulfilled.
Often when an organization is toggling back and forth between Late Early Struggle and Early Fun, the Artisan Trap is to blame.
Read more about the Artisan Trap in this blog post.
Want to know whether you’re a Visionary, an Operator, or perhaps another leadership style? Find out by taking our quiz here!
COURSE: Optimizing Your Time in Fun
How do you know whether an organization has left late Early Struggle and entered Fun? In this course, you’ll learn the specific signs that signal you’ve reached the Fun stage of growth.
From there, you’ll discover how to mine the market, manage profitability, and avoid potential pitfalls that could quickly derail growth.
We’ll also also take a closer look at why some founders choose to keep their organization in Fun permanently while others proceed into Whitewater, and the consequences of both.
Blog Posts: Resisting the Pull Back to Early Struggle
Just because an organization has reached Fun doesn’t mean it is safe from the gravitational pull of Early Struggle. Here are some of the ways that businesses become derailed:
The Walmart Effect – When a business lands a large customer, such as Walmart, it may seem like it’s a dream come true. However, when one client accounts for over 20% of total revenue, it can end up costing the organization in numerous ways, ultimately stunting its growth. Learn more in this blog post.
The Dilettante Syndrome – One of the dangers of Fun, especially for a Visionary, is the lure of wanting to take this new-found success and try to replicate it again immediately. Doing so too soon could dissipate an organization’s already thin resources and even pull it back into Early Struggle. Here’s a closer look at the Dilettante Syndrome.
Fun: Should You Stay or Should You Scale?
Fun is called that for a reason. However, there comes a time when founder/owners must decide whether to push on to Whitewater or to stay in Fun. And if you’re tempted to avoid making the choice, then you will quickly discover that the decision has been made for you as you find yourself in Whitewater.
Here are the factors to consider when determining which path to take:
Do you truly want to scale your business? – If you are happy running four sandwich shops and don’t wish to open a dozen more, then that is perfectly fine. You can certainly increase your profitability with your existing stores. However, if you want to truly scale your business, then you will need to take the plunge into Whitewater.
Are you prepared to voluntarily give up a high degree of personal freedom and autonomy? – In Fun, you are the king/queen of the castle. One of the reasons many Visionary/founders start an enterprise in the first place is because they value the personal freedom/autonomy it offers. If you want to reach Predictable Success, however, you will have to become another member of the team, one who follows the same rules as everyone else.
Are you prepared to lose up to 1/3 of your best Operators? – Big Dogs don’t like losing the autonomy they’ve had throughout Fun. They will attempt to use their “sweat equity” to obtain a free pass from senior management, so that they don’t have to adhere to systems/processes. However, this won’t be possible if the organization is going to scale, and some Big Dogs will end up leaving.
Are you prepared to actively support substantial systems and processes – Visionaries will readily agree to systems and processes, so long as they don’t apply to them. In order to scale, however, you will have to adhere the same systems and processes that everyone else does.
Blog Post: Myths, Legends, and Heroic Leadership
Fun is a time when the myths and legends of the business are built. The nimbleness of the organization allows it to turn on a dime, enabling it rescue success from the jaws of defeat. The business is able to pull off the near-impossible again and again, winning clients away from larger, more established businesses.
However, as the business grows, it eventually becomes too complex to rely on heroic acts to save the day. Instead, it must use systems and processes.
Read this blog post to learn why it’s essential that they do.
Key Players in Fun: The Visionary and The Operator
The Visionary brings the enthusiasm, passion, and long-term thinking that is essential for surviving the extreme challenges of Early Struggle.
The Operator is a perfect complement to the Visionary’s style. Operators are do-ers, they think in the short-term and are entirely focused on making things happen.
Dive deeper into these two styles by enrolling in these two courses: