Growth is tough. It's tough in good times - it's even tougher in challenging times like we are in now. The truth is that the vast majority of companies (and individuals) will not grow any faster (or better) than the prevailing tide. The reason for this?
Recently, I've come to the conclusion that it's because people don't like to get beaten up. They play it safe - not intentionally, but in reality. They figure that they just need to get it figured out first - then it will work. They try to stay clean and avoid the natural bruises of growth. Unfortunately, the only way to succeed with that approach is by relying on rare luck.
I remember when I started my second company - a coaching/training company focused on the travel industry. I started the company with my family. My parents had run a very successful travel agency and had done quite a bit of consulting in the travel industry. We had a clear plan all laid out - convinced that we'd be raking in the clients.
I went out to Phoenix, AZ for a (planned) two week trip of sales calls. About three days into the trip, I realized that we had a problem. People were not interested in our value proposition. The basis of our approach was not going to work.
Admittedly I was worried - scared even. I'd left a great job, my parents had funded the business with a second mortgage - and I was looking at a failure.
Looking back it was the absolute best thing that happened to us. Had we not gone full tilt into the market we would not have gotten the intelligence we needed to refine our value proposition to the realities of the market.
By the way, the same has been true at Imagine. When I started this company, I got absolutely beaten up in the process. I wasn't clear, wasn't comfortable and wasn't ready for real opportunities. The act of getting "beaten up" strengthened me - and the company. Had I avoided it, I'd still be planning the business instead of running it.