The Grind is one of the more romantic business notions. And there is a belief out there that it never ends. And that’s simply not true. For owners of growing businesses, there is a time to grind and a time to lead. And knowing when to make that shift is crucial for the long-term success of your business.

When The Grind Quits Working

What is “The Grind?”

It’s hard to find the business/entrepreneur definition of the grind. Webster’s dictionary doesn’t even try. All they provide is: “to reduce to fine particles, as by pounding or crushing.” And that’s not what entrepreneurs mean at all. The closest meaning for them comes from Urban Dictionary, which defines it as: “staying “on the grind working hard, always be hustling.”

So, the grind is just the idea of working relentlessly toward a goal. It’s getting up every morning and doing everything you can to make your venture successful.

When It Matters

And there are stages in your career or business when the grind matters. And it matters a lot. For my small business clients, I see it in their relentless networking, social media posting, and then with any time they have left, actually delivering for their clients. And they do it willingly because they are building their business with the hope it will pay off financially and, someday, more efficiently, with teams built around them.

And we see it, too, in corporate careers. Law firms, consulting firms, you name it. They love to encourage the grind in their younger employees. Fifteen-hour days, seven days a week. “Earn your stripes,” they tell the young employees. I did, and they do, willingly. And many times for the promise of that big payoff down the road.

We look back fondly at the grind as we get further along in our business or career. We almost romanticize it, pushing down the toll it took on us because it got us to where we are now. And that’s the truth of the grind. It is necessary to put in the effort early on and go hard. It will lead to success.

When “The Grind” Stops Working

The grind does lead to success. But it will not sustain your success. I see this break down when entrepreneurs and small business owners begin to grow when they are no longer the source of all the work in their business.

Initially, you have the money and the need to surround yourself with people to help you. And at this stage, you still will need to do some grinding. But if that’s all you do, you will begin to fail. Why? Because when you start adding people, you need to spend less time doing and more time directing behavior. The grind loses its value because you have people around you to do the work. And if you’re not paying attention to and supporting your new team, the results won’t happen.

At this point, the inexperienced leader will see the team not getting it done and decide to throw it all back on their shoulders. They think, “if I grind, it will get done. And they’ll see me do it and grind correctly too.” But it simply doesn’t work that way.

As your business grows, you need to leave the grind behind. Your work becomes less about doing and more about two things:

  1. Ensuring you equip the team around you to get things done.
  2. Think about where your business is growing and prepare for it.

Leaders don’t grind. Leaders inspire, create and share the vision and drive the business forward through an ever-growing team. The successful business owner realizes that pivot point where the company is no longer about their effort but the team’s effort they surround themselves with. And when they make that pivot successfully, they win.

If you are struggling to make the transition from “the grind” to being a leader, let’s set up a time to connect and move you one step closer to that transition.

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