Two Danger Traps That Can Derail Your Growth

Josh Linkner
August 29, 2021

Josh Linkner

Five-time tech entrepreneur, hyper-growth CEO, NY Times bestselling author and venture capitalist.

Whether you run a two-person graphic design shop or a 200,000-person global manufacturing conglomerate, you're likely craving growth. We all do. Expansion fuels profits, serves customers, drives share price, and impacts the world. Through building five companies of my own and helping at least 100 others scale, I've seen two repeating growth traps that have stunted many organizations. Keep an eye out for these obstacles in your organization, in order to accelerate growth and mitigate risk:

1. The Overcorrect. Inevitably, growing a business involves solving a series of problems. You'll have your share of moments where you proclaim, "D'oh!" (think Homer Simpson) at how stupid you were for doing something a certain way. The natural instinct is to sprint in the exact opposite direction. If you had zero client sign offs, now you'll want 78 of them. If you lost a team member because you provided no ongoing training, you decide to offer three-day-a-week development sessions. By overcorrecting, you run the risk of creating a new problem while solving the old one. Resist this temptation, even if the original problem fills you with disdain. Otherwise, reducing one challenge may create a new one, just like the carnival game of Whack-A-Mole. Life, and business, is all about striking balance, and the land of unintended consequences is no way to get there.

2. Gorging on Too Many Opportunities. As your business expands, you will be seduced by a growing number of new opportunities. You could add to your product line, expand internationally, hire 20 new sales people, or film a documentary. There will be no shortage of shiny opportunities luring you away from your focus. Flip-flopping leaders who embrace the flavor-of-the-week strategy rarely build sustainable companies.

Remember this: More companies die of indigestion than starvation. When you look back five years from now, your success will be based much more on the times you said "no" rather than the times you said "yes." As the old Chinese proverb states wisely, "Chase two rabbits and both will escape."

As a leader, seeing your company through the treacherous waters of growth may feel overwhelming. Remain vigilant in identifying these traps coming at you and, in turn, you'll be able to avoid them. Stay focused on the rewards awaiting you on the other side of the chasm, and fight to reach dry land as quickly as possible. If you can navigate through that challenging growth stage, you'll end up in the rarified territory reserved for champions.

The post Two Danger Traps That Can Derail Your Growth appeared first on Josh Linkner.

Josh Linkner

Want Josh Linkner for your next event?

Find out more information, including fees and availability.
Find Out More
Keep Reading
Innovation Techniques from Jazz Musicians (Part 2 of 3)
Josh Linkner
Josh Linkner
October 24, 2021
As a music geek and a student of jazz for over 40 years, I’m obsessed with the ...
Innovation Techniques from Jazz Musicians (Part 1 of 3)
Josh Linkner
Josh Linkner
October 17, 2021
Having studied jazz improvisation for nearly 40 years, performing thousands of times ...
The Stone Cutter's Quest for More
Josh Linkner
Josh Linkner
October 03, 2021
There was once a stonecutter who was dissatisfied with himself and with his position in life. One day he ...
Innovation Techniques from Jazz Musicians (Part 2 of 3)
As a music geek and a student of jazz for over 40 years, I’m obsessed with the intricate, dangerous, soul-filled improvisational skills of legends like Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, and Ella Fitzgerald. Which is why I’ve decided to share some of the inside approaches that have delighted audiences and made history. Last week, we covered two techni...
Read More
Innovation Techniques from Jazz Musicians (Part 1 of 3)
Having studied jazz improvisation for nearly 40 years, performing thousands of times all over the world, I can tell you that instantaneous creativity is the language of jazz. Jazz music is a real-time art form; there's no going back to re-do or touch-up your work. The improvisation is intense, fluid, and dangerous. Let's take an inside look at s...
Read More
The Stone Cutter's Quest for More
There was once a stonecutter who was dissatisfied with himself and with his position in life. One day he passed a wealthy merchant’s house. Through the open gateway, he saw many fine possessions and important visitors. “How powerful that merchant must be!” thought the stone cutter. He became very envious and wished that he could be like the merc...
Read More
There's Always an Alternative
There are few projects more complex, difficult, and expensive than rebuilding a gate at an existing airport. Inoperable during construction, gate closures create huge losses for airlines. Further, doing the construction work in a live airport setting is especially tricky for the craftspeople working the project. Often toiling away in the middle ...
Read More
When Traditions Should Change
I had the great honor to deliver a keynote speech this past Sunday on Northern Michigan's beautiful Mackinac Island. Sweeping vistas. Historic homes. Unpolluted air. It's right out of a storybook, but there is one tradition that is long-overdue for a change. There are no cars on the island, which is pretty darn cool. Fun fact: the island has th...
Read More
Creating the Perfect Circle (a Zen Proverb)
One day a small boy was playing near the river when he saw an old man with a long beard seated in the sand. The boy moved closer and watched as the old man drew a perfect circle into the sand. "Hey, old man, how did you draw such a perfect circle?" asked the boy. The old man looked at the boy and said, "I don't know, I just tried, and tried agai...
Read More
Two Danger Traps That Can Derail Your Growth
Whether you run a two-person graphic design shop or a 200,000-person global manufacturing conglomerate, you're likely craving growth. We all do. Expansion fuels profits, serves customers, drives share price, and impacts the world. Through building five companies of my own and helping at least 100 others scale, I've seen two repeating growth trap...
Read More
Duct Tape and a Paperclip
From the time I saw MacGyver use candlesticks, an extension cord, and a rubber mat to create an improvised defibrillator to save a man's life, I was hooked on the show. Whether it was creating a makeshift bazooka out of a muffler, gear shift knob, seat cushion stuffing, and a cigarette lighter to escape a car chase or the time he used a magnifyi...
Read More
Want Fresh Ideas? Try This.
In these competitive and uncertain times, most of us long for that bold, fresh idea that will shake things up and drive meaningful progress. Yet great new ideas can feel harder to find than a five-leaf clover. We stare at the same problem - with the same set of eyes and the same perspective - and then wonder why our ideas fall short. To shake...
Read More
A Simple Way to De-Risk Innovation
We know that embracing innovation is the only way to grow and win over the long term, but it sure can feel risky and overwhelming. This is often because we overemphasize idea generation while skipping the most important step in the process: experimentation. Most of us think: Step 1: Generate an idea Step 2: Widespread implementation Step 3: Grit...
Read More