I was involved in a business roundtable discussion with some intelligent small business owners and entrepreneurs. One of them had just crossed the $1,000,000 point and was anxiously trying to 2X his business but was overwhelmed at the challenge. We started to brainstorm some ideas and share insights on next steps. This sparked a discussion on what it takes to hit the next level.
Many times, in a family run or small business, one’s personality can handle all the ups and downs of the day-to-day operations. Once you start approaching the “two comma mark” you’ll have to start facing the facts that you’ll need to look outside your own core competencies to really stretch to hit that next level of growth.
Here is a summary of that 4-Step Guide to Take your Business to the Next Level:
Step 1: Stick to what you can do great and outsource what you cannot do well
There was a reason you started this business in the first place. As it grew, you had to take on things you hated doing like payroll, taxes, bookkeeping, security, (unless those are your services you provide). Time and time again, the most successful entrepreneurs have learned to find cost-effective partners you can outsource with so you can stick to the work you love. There are bookkeeping and payroll options for very cheap that can keep your small business humming (mycorportion.com, neat.com, and even my own company moneysolver.org to name a few). You can even outsource your entire HR organization if you’d like. Stay focused on what you are passionate about every day so that you continue to love doing it. If you get stuck on finding your passion, here is a 21 Questions guide from Wake Up Cloud to help get you going
Step 2: Hire for character and integrity first
Poor employees sour culture quickly; their poison rots the entire wood and it takes years to correct. At the same time, positive culture is equally infectious and has enormously powerful effects. As you continuously hire positive and honest individuals, you will have a loyal employee base that gives more than their job description and more than their “required hours per week.” Though many entrepreneurs and owners tend to hire on resumes, I’d suggest using the resume as a starting point for the hiring discussion, not the decision point. For example:
Find out their character and integrity.How have they handled failure? What are ways they handle the pressure? Do they prefer a chaotic environment or structured environment?What is their approach to decision making?
This will shape your future in five years instead of five months. Want data to back that up? A 2002 study by Watson Wyatt revealed that publicly traded companies with a perception that they were “highly trusted” outperformed “low-levels of trust” companies by 286%. How would you like your small business to outperform itself by +200%?
Step 3: Have disciplined redundancy throughout the businesses
In a small business, when one person of mid-to-high position leaves unexpectedly the weight is felt throughout the organization. And though everyone cannot be expected to be as trained as well as everyone else, there is enormous value in redundancy so that people can cover people in a moment’s notice. This allows not only for smoother transitions in case of an exit but also better team dynamics and accountability when working together. Creating this culture is essential to redundancy as discussed by Brent Gleeson. This ultimately creates a culture of constant discipline and training whereas greatness doesn’t come without training.
Jim Collins is quoted as saying in his book, Good to Great, that “A culture of discipline is not a principle of business, it is a principle of greatness.”
“A culture of discipline is not a principle of business, it is a principle of greatness.” – Jim Collins, Good to Great
Create this culture and you’ll be thankful.
Step 4: Fire those challenging clients that really don’t keep the lights on
Many companies suffer from those early clients who you struggle to let go because they’ve been around so long you simply struggle to fire them. Gordon Tredgold has highlighted many reasons why clients can go sour like they detract from our brand, or they treat us like a bank, it still doesn’t change the fact that some are just too kind-hearted to cut them loose. The fact of the matter is, they are a drag on your organization, your team, and your personal energy. You’d be better off letting them go but you haven’t for years. Remembering when to say no is sometimes the hardest thing to do.
Above all, growth is a grind. It takes constant effort and requires doing the hard things over and over again. Be sure to surround yourself with the right partners and mentors who can tell you the truth and hold you accountable. By sticking to these guides, you’ll make sound decisions and keep moving ahead.