6 years ago we got a dog.
She was the scrappiest thing we ever saw. Before getting to the shelter, and before we even saw her, we had agreed on a name — Chloe. But when we got to see her, well, let’s just say she didn’t look as refined as a “Chloe”. She was skinny, mangy, and hungry for attention. Despite being in a home, she looked like a wandering dog from the streets, and we weren’t sure any amount of bathing and grooming could fix it. So, we shrugged and settled on the name Gypsy.
When we first got Gypsy home, she was the master escape artist, master manipulator, and cunning innovator– learning how to open doors, jump fences and exploit every weakness in our fenced-in back yard.
Now, my scrappy dog is living the good life. She’s a bit plumper, has a cushy dog bed, and she’s jumping fences less often. It’s almost as if she goes up to the fence, looks at it, and says to herself “it just isn’t worth the effort!” and trots off. While she used to devour her meals when you put food in her bowl, these days she waits for a treat, some food scraps or some drippings from whatever we’re cooking.
She’s not so scrappy any more.
The same way my dog has lost her scrappiness the same thing happens with businesses as they grow. They get a little “fat”, a little less innovative and a little more complacent. They aren’t fighting as hard as they used to, they aren’t as aggressive and they wait for things to come to them. They’ve lost the scrappiness of their startup years.
So how can you get back to your scrappy roots? Take some time to evaluate your business with an objective eye.
Start with asking the 5 “Ws”
- Who have we added to the team in recent years? Are they performing as expected? Have they delivered the growth, efficiencies etc.?
- Who is the market we serve? Who else could benefit from our product or service?
- Who is our ideal client and have we strayed from that?
- What are our core competencies?
- What are the opportunities we aren’t going after– and why?
- When was the last time we took a step back and objectively looked at our business?
- When did we have our last bump in revenue, profits, innovation? Has it been too long?
- Where do we see the new opportunities?
- Where do we want to be in a few years?
- Why are we doing things the way we are doing them?
- Are we staying true to “why” we started our business in the first place?
- Do our mission, vision and values reflect how we operate today?
Scrappiness takes a lot of energy but it also can mean growth and innovation while being very resourceful. So go back to the “good ol’ days” of your early business years and remember your scrappiness.