As we move from the past year into this new year, we often spend some time reflecting, be that personally or as a business owner. Paul and I recently had the opportunity to reflect on a Q&A session that we hosted back in 2017, where I spoke of 6 lessons I had personally learnt from scaling a business, as an Episode on our Podcast – The MAP Room

As we spoke, Paul asked me to recall an image that I had created to support the phrase “You can’t fire a cannon from a canoe” when referring to making sure that your business is ready for growth and it is built on some solid foundations.

At MAP, we refer to these as Essentials.

As I found the original presentation and reviewed the slides it reminded me of something else that I spoke of back in 2017, and on reflection in our discussion, felt it was even more important today. That was planning, and the planning for growth of your business.

One of the slides was an image of a start line. Simple enough image, to communicate the simple, yet often miss understood task of knowing where you are starting from. What is your current reality?

This was borne out of the G.R.O.W Acronym from the GROW Coaching Methodology.

Goal – Reality – Options – Way Forward

I first came across this many years ago via the British Army, which made this all the more appropriate for the MAP Room and its military connotations.

Goal – What is your goal and where do you want to end up?

Reality – What is the current reality and what issues and challenges must be overcome? 

Options – What are the options to overcome these challenges?

Way Forward – These options must be formed into an Action Plan, which is the way forward.

When we talk with clients about their ambitions for growth, the Goal is often easy to understand and to communicate to the team. The Reality is often the main challenge. Just as we know with our Sat Nav systems, we can put any destination we like, but to work effectively, we have to be precise about where we are starting from.

Ambition is a key driver to any business success, but if it is blind ambition, then it can also be a significant hindrance, as you will not be clear on where your business is today. Often small details are ignored in the rush to the goal…. Not to be advised when planning a military campaign!

At MAP, we suggest stress testing your key assumptions.

  • Is my proposition ready?
  • Is my pricing right?
  • Do I have the team I need to deliver?
  • What does growing the team look like and what will it cost me?
  • Will growth increase my working capital requirements?
  • Do I have the funding for this growth, or do I need to get it?

These are just a few, but they give a flavour of many areas we see ignored in a rush for growth.

To help understand the Options, sometimes also called Outcomes, then Scenario Planning is a valuable tool where the use of a Capacity Planner or a Live Finance Forecast can be hugely valuable.  

  • Am I asking my team to be at capacity or maybe breaking point for an extended period of time, and when will I know I need to recruit? 
  • If I can get this uplift in recoverable hours charged, what does that do to my top line?

The Way Forward is the optimal plan to get you from where you are today (Reality) to where you want to be (Goal). But to make this work action must be taken and so I have often used  the W also as Will and When.

Who is doing this and by when? (And when it was time precious, the W was the Weekly Will & When Report!)


As part of our reflective discussion we questioned whether these views from 2017 are still appropriate in 2024. Well, I can tell you this model and methodology was first published back in 1992. I first came across it around 1998, using it in many different businesses since then, and it is still used by the British Army today.   

To listen to the full Episode click the button below.

Stuart Brown