In 2013, I experienced fast growth.

I was pretty much right out of the gate with my design business, and things got hot and heavy pretty quickly.

I remember looking down at my iPhone, and seeing the money rolling in.

I took my mum shopping. I bought my dream kettle (don’t judge until you’ve seen it).

We went on two fabulous family holidays that year.

At first, it was pretty awesome. Since we’d moved in together in 2002, Andy and I hadn’t had much money. What we did have, we’d worked hard for.

The feeling of not having to worry whether or not we could cover the bills each month was incredible. To be able to look at my bank balance and see black – not red – was completely liberating.

I’d done it. I’d cracked the code, figured it out, and was on my way to a six figure business. We no longer had to worry about money.

Just a few months later, I was literally on my knees in despair.

What I didn’t realise (while I was ‘investing’ in my dream kettle and soaking up the rays in the Canaries) is that I was now dancing to the beat of a particular formula. It went something like this:

Fast growth x naïve solopreneur = a ticking time bomb.

At the time, I didn’t see myself ‘naïve’. I actually thought I had it going on. I thought I had it aaaalllll figured out; because after all, I must be a rockstar entrepreneur to grow so quickly, so fast…right?

Wrong.

I was actually incredible naïve.

And if I’m being honest?

I was also deluded about what it would take to actually keep this up.

Just a few months later, the business was still growing at a fast rate – but I was buckling under the pressure.

I’d committed myself to too many things, too soon. I’d made promises I couldn’t keep.

Perhaps worst of all, the cost of maintaining that growth had increased dramatically.

In other words: I’d become a hamster in a wheel that I couldn’t stop. (Although I was a hamster with a dream kettle…)

The faster the business grew, the more sacrifices I had to make just to keep up.

That ticking time bomb looked like this:

Long hours. Missing out on family fun. Pressure. Overwhelm. Late nights. Lack of sleep. Feeling like I was letting everyone down. The dread of opening my inbox. Refunds.

And then eventually, BOOM. I collapsed in a heap of quivering nerves, wondering how the hell I ended up there. (Because after all, I was a rockstar…right?).

When I see marketing messages and offerings that promote a fast-track to fast growth, I immediately recoil.

I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with fast growth. But the question is:

How will you sustain it when you have it?

This is the ‘bonus’ material that seems to be missing in so many cases.

When you get those ‘promised’ six figures, what will you have to sacrifice to keep them?

In my experience, making the money isn’t actually the hard part.

Sustaining it is the hard part.

Significant growth requires a significant input.

Financial (apps, programs, software, monthly subscriptions)

Energetic (delivering on your promises, fulfilling your commitments)

Time (saying no to family engagements, working through holidays, working late at night and at weekends)

The question isn’t whether you can make six or seven figures.

The question is: are you prepared to cope with the ongoing commitment that that brings with it?

I definitely wasn’t, and things got ugly.

When I relaunched the business in 2014, I had three words at the forefront of my mind:

Slow, steady…and sustainable.

My soul couldn’t take another ravaging in the name of ‘success’. This time round, I grew the business from the ground up in a way that I knew I could sustain long-term.

I sat down, and really thought about how my Alchemist (and my Secondary Archetype the Sage) could bring sustainability to the business.

For example – before, my business had been purely service-based (i.e. I traded my time for money). As a Sage, I knew that sharing my knowledge and experience could be an additional income stream that I’d actually enjoy fulfilling on a long term basis. And so, I added courses and mentorship to my offerings. My Archetypal Business Initiation Kit launched in 2014, and it has since become a sustainable source of income. I can pretty much rely on the fact that the Kit will bring in enough income each month to pay the $3000p/m it takes to just keep this business afloat. (Side note: it’s the hidden expenses that add up. My substantial monthly expenditure covers things like Erin’s wages, Infusionsoft etc – but there are so many little costs that make it up to $3000, such as apps, subscriptions etc – all of which are needed to keep the business running as it is now).

If you’re at a point in your business where you’re experiencing dream-kettle-growth, and are sailing smoothly – congratulations. I am truly, truly happy for you.

If, however, you’re finding that you’re looking round and envying the growth of others, perhaps this is an opportunity for you to reflect on what you’re aiming for, and whether it’s worth what it will cost to get there.

Try switching ‘fast’ for ‘slow’.

‘Overnight’ for ‘steady’.

‘Unpredictable’ for ‘sustainable’.

The ultimate lesson is this:

Slow, steady and sustainable. (Unless it’s a damn fine kettle). 

Agree? Disagree? Have something to say about this? Leave me a love note in the comments below 🙂