Transition is almost always a good thing. Most times we are unable to see it or appreciate it from up close. But afterward, with a little honesty, we can often say if it had not been for (x) we might never have had the opportunity to (y). A similar saying goes, “Humor = Pain + Time.”
My business is transitioning. It is both painful and exhilarating to endure the pangs of growth or the disappointment of not being able to grow at as quick a pace as I might like. This time of year, for example, is the time of year many coffee buyers love/hate because so many good coffees are coming on line and you simply can’t have them all. Difficult choices ensue. Careful forward analysis and projections must be done. Every dollar must be made to bring a friend or two along back to your bank account. Otherwise you’re just treading water. That may be fine for some. I am not in that category.
From the beginning Brown made the conscious decision to grow organically. No bank loans. No revolving lines of credit with lending institutions. No back alley deals with Vinnie the loan shark. Over the long arc it is very, very gratifying to see what we’ve built so far: from pumping out tiny batches of coffee in the garage at my folks’ home to getting our own lovely place, to turning a profit for the first time this year to…what’s next? Maybe I could have seen faster growth had we taken that risk of exposing our dreams to the probing spotlight of a loan officer. But then, maybe not. In that respect Brown is both gloriously upheld on its philosophical pedestal and confined to what we can afford at the moment. Our business decisions remain no more than 6 months forward at any given time–often more like 6 weeks forward.
How do you handle transition times? If you started organically like I did, did you at some point take your dreams for the next phase of growth to a bank to leverage yourself to the next plateau? Did you risk all in the beginning and have it pay off handsomely? Or not so handsomely?