Many years ago, I lived in Montana and became friends with a body builder named Jim. Jim spent many hours in the gym each day building the type of body that wins competitions. As I got to know Jim, I learned a little bit about body building.
As Jim explained it, early on it is all about mass. The goal is to get as big as possible. You work hard in the gym and a eat a lot. Jim was not concerned about fat at this stage. The goal is simply growth. At a certain point, a few months before a competition, Jim would begin working on definition. He would still work hard in the gym but would change to an exceptionally low-fat diet. This change allows his body to begin shedding fat and improving definition. By the time the competition arrived, Jim’s body looked like it was carved out of stone.
Why do I tell you this? Because building a business is very similar. During the early stage of business development, it is all about building mass. You spend money on advertising, hire people and add infrastructure before needed, and grow mass. Your business may not have the best ROI in the first year but if you are building mass, then you are building the foundation to be competitive. Once the business has a strong base, then you can begin working on definition. Melt away the fat and drive profitability. Reinvesting for growth in the early stages gives you the foundation to create amazing definition later.
I know everyone wants to open a business and be profitable ASAP, but it is good to remember that successful businesses focus on mass before definition.