Lots of what business is about isn't necessarily exciting or creative.

Often the exciting and creative things happen early on in the early 'days' (the reference to 'days' here could mean weeks, months or years).  Things are new, fresh and full of options.  You are trying things out and figuring out what works, or doesn't. Things are thrown to the wall to see what sticks. It's somewhat chaotic. Projects and ideas start and get forgotten about quickly. There are ups and of course many downs.

At this point it can be hard to be repeatable with growth.  There are too many variables. However it is wise to look for clues.  What are the patterns? What are the things that are actually working? What things are making the highest impact?

The Path to Growth Stability Needs (Some) Repeatability

Once there is some stability of what you 'do' you've hopefully figured out how to sell it, even if it feels rough and amateurish. There has been a pattern that you've noticed. A specific area that works better than others.  Take these points and try defining them further.

The thing with repeatable growth processes is that they can only really work for you.  That magic formula is not something that can easily be copied and pasted from someone else to give you results.  You need to find the right mix and dosage of all the options that are out there.  Sure, get inspiration from other sources, but the formula that works needs to come from you and only you.

There are just so many options on how to grow. They vary over time. I'm not even going to attempt to list anything here.

In my early days when it was me mostly doing all the things, my very simplistic overview would be:

  1. try things out that aligned with my vision
  2. see what worked
  3. did more of what worked
  4. quickly forgot about what didn't

Then repeat.

This is not rocket science.

Each cycle would vary a bit as we grew.  But the main structure didn't change massively from month to month. However, only in hindsight and looking back year on year did I see the bigger picture of how things had changed.

It's important to have guidelines of what needs doing, but it's also equally as important to recognise that change needs to happen constantly.

As my mindset grew to figuring out to grow a business that didn't rely on me I began developing a lightweight process and passing on the knowledge. There was process, but there was also room for change.

The process was essential as it was based on what I believed and knew what was working.  Some things were directly measurable.  Other things were not, but I still believed they added long term value.

Measurable things:

  • clicks
  • discussions
  • feedback
  • enquiries
  • sales
  • getting on big business vendor lists
  • repeatable sales
  • etc

Non-measurable:

  • brand awareness
  • reputation
  • how I or the team feels

Allowing Room for Movement

I don't think any business is safe and entirely predictable these days, the fast moving pace of the world and the tech industry can quickly abolish many businesses. You only need to look back 5-10 years and realise how many small and big businesses are just not viable today.

Any process that exists needs the ability to change.  These should never be set in stone, but should be approached as a way to systemise and educate the people that you work with.

There is also the age old advice that will always be relevant - if you or someone in your team gets knocked over by a bus tomorrow, will you know what to do and how to cope?

Example at hand, with my Ministry of Testing experience in mind

Maybe it's hard to understand all of this without an example, so here's a quick overview of what a repeatable process might look like

Promoting an online article:

At Ministry of Testing we regularly published articles from the wider community. What do we do when an article is published?

  • we share it on Twitter
  • we share it on LinkedIn
  • we flip it to our Flipboard
  • share it on our Slack
  • is it Reddit worthy?
  • can we think of anyone or anywhere that would be interested in the article?
  • we tag in author where relevant
  • we include it in our weekly newsletter
  • we'll bear it in mind to refer to if people ask a question that it can answer
  • consider whether it is worthy to start a forum discussion around it

This was our repeatable process, it worked because:

  • it drove results (clicks, traffic, SEO)
  • raised awareness of our brand
  • it invested in other people (helping them get published)
  • our reach would grow through our efforts and through the author sharing
  • it would help us keep the community engaged and coming back
  • it was a piece of the funnel for directing people towards our paid events

Repeatable Processes are Good for Business

Businesses need to understand what will get them to their end goal.  The above example is simplistic, and a very small part of what it takes to get the bigger goals - in our case putting on a profitable event.

All businesses need to be able to plan for survival and growth.  The more 'processes that actually work' exist, then the better able they are able to forecast and plan for the future.  Without repeatable actions it makes the whole process of getting to the end results so much and unnecessarily harder.