How to Immediately Improve Your Company Culture

How to Immediately Improve Your Company Culture

If you’ve grown your company past the first few employees, chances are you’ve wrestled with culture issues.

When it was just you and a handful of employees, your culture was you and you controlled it. However, as you’ve added employees, with fewer and fewer of them reporting directly to you, chances are culture has become a huge issue.

So, if you’d like to fix that problem fast so that you don’t have five or 37 different cultures functioning in your business, make sure you watch this week’s video, simply entitled,

How to Immediately Improve Your Company Culture (in five easy steps)

 

Remember, consistency is the key.

To your accelerated success!

Bruce

P.S. If you haven’t subscribed to my new YouTube Channel yet, make sure you do so today.

What To Do When Your Team Is Behind On Their Targets

What To Do When Your Team Is Behind On Their Targets

We’ve all been there. You created a set of targets (e.g. KPIs or key performance indicators) for your team. And halfway through the quarter or halfway through the year you already know (and they probably know, as well), they’re not going to hit their targets. What should you do?

If you’re like most business owners and entrepreneurs chances are you’re going to adjust the target down to something “more reasonable.” For example

  • Sally was supposed to generate $800K in revenue this year, but halfway through the year, she’s only at $200K, so let’s ratchet her goal down to $600K. That will still be a stretch but it’s “more attainable,” than keeping her goal at $800K.
  • MacKenzie was supposed to create 10 new systems for her area this month. We’re at week three and she’s only done two. So, let’s ratchet her goal down to six for this month so she can feel like she’s making progress.
  • Michael was supposed to generate 150 leads this quarter. We’re only three weeks away from the end of our quarter and Micheal is a good guy, but he’s only at 75 leads for the quarter. Let’s adjust his leads number down to 100 for the quarter so he’ll feel like this was a win.

The problem with this kind of process is that it backfires by creating a culture of non-accountability. When you consistently have people missing targets and there’s no consequence to not hitting their targets, even worse that their targets are adjusted downward so that they (the individual) feel good about not meeting their targets, you’re creating a dysfunctional workplace. In essence, you end up getting more people not meeting their targets quarter by quarter (the exact opposite of what you want).

So, what’s the better option? Instead of ratcheting down your targets, use the following strategy.

When it looks like your team is behind on their targets, don’t reduce their target, increase their activity.

That’s the better strategy. You don’t want to create a culture where it’s “okay” to not meet your KPIs, where you can simply carry over from month-to-month or quarter-to-quarter any targets that weren’t hit in a previous period. So, here’s a simple three step strategy to use when someone on your team is behind on their targets.

I. Increase Their Activity

Culture is created by what you enforce, not what you want or what you have written on a wall or in a policy manual. So, when it’s clear that someone isn’t going to hit their metric, don’t make your default, “Let’s reduce their production.” Make your default, “Okay, how are you going to increase your activity so you’ll hit your target?”

Note: you want to engage your employees in the process of increasing their activity, as opposed to simply telling them what to do. For example,

  • “Sally, it’s now July and, as you know, you’re only a quarter of the way to your revenue generation goal. So, how are you going to increase your activity over the next six months to generate that additional $600K?”
  • “I’m not sure I can do that.”
  • “Okay. How about we simply brainstorm together. What could you do? For example, how many leads do you have in your pipeline?”
  • “Not enough.”
  • “Well, to get to get to $600K in six months, how many leads do you think you’ll need?”
  • “Probably 100.”
  • “Alright, so how many calls would you need to make to hit that number? How many would you need to make each week to hit that number? How many are you currently making per week?”
  • “How many meetings would you need to take to hit that target?” “How many per week?” How many are you currently taking per week?
  • “How many networking functions? How many are you currently attending?”
  • “How many people are you asking for referrals every week?” “How many people do you think you need to ask per week to hit your goal?” Etc.
  • “Now, what if you were to increase your activity to the numbers you just told me, do you think you could you hit your $800K target?”

You get the idea. Too often we accept other people’s excuses for why they didn’t get something done that they agreed to get done at the start of the quarter or start of the year. Instead of accepting that as “reality.” Why not create a new reality? If you’re falling behind, increase your activity. Make that the standard, not reducing their targets.

So, who on your team do you need to have a crucial conversation with this week?

II. Reduce Your Reporting Cycle

One of the reasons why so many people get so far behind is because the accountability cycles they’re being held to are too far apart. For example, if someone has to report on their metrics once per quarter, they can get way behind (in their mind, they’re thinking, “I have thirteen weeks to get this done. No pressure to get started right away. I don’t have to give an answer until the end of the quarter”). On the other hand, if they have to give a report once per month, they’ll probably get less far behind because they can’t put off getting started as long as if they have 13 weeks.

Even better, if they have to report back once per week, they’ll probably fall even less far behind than once per month because they can’t push off getting started for a few weeks. And if they have to report back on their activity every day, they’ll probably fall less behind than if they have to report back once per week. It’s just the nature of  the human condition.

This is one of the reasons why, here at BizScalers Club, I’m such a huge fan of daily meetings. If someone (let’s call him, Joe) has to say, day after day, “I didn’t get X done (e.g. I didn’t hit my sales call quota yesterday or I didn’t get that part of the project done that Sally is waiting on, etc.)” there’s a much higher probability that Joe’s behavior will change sooner rather than later vs. if he had four weeks before he had to give account for his actions/production.

There’s no question about it. Daily accountability will get more done faster than just about anything else you can do in your business. So, give daily meetings a shot. And if you’re not willing to try daily yet, at least go to weekly accountability (and then slowly head toward daily).

The math on this is simple. The more you reduce your reporting cycle, the faster you’ll fix any lagging problems.

So, how can you reduce your reporting and accountability cycle this month?

III. Make Accountability Visible

Few things spur activity more than competition and not wanting to be publicly embarrassed. Way too many employees get away with underperformance because “no one knows” what they’re doing (or, more appropriately, what they’re not doing). It’s all a mystery.

On the other hand, what most sales teams have figured out is that a visual representation of their sales activity is a huge motivator for sales revenue. Who wants to be on the bottom? If you’re on the bottom of the sales board, you either work your way up or your way out (i.e. visual accountability helps weed out underperformers). Moreover, it also motivates your best people because a little competition gets them to increase their activity because they want to be in the top spot (or the top quartile).

Now, if visual accountability works for sales people, it can probably work for the rest of your team. For example, here at BizScalers, we’re huge fans of Sprint Boards (i.e. 30 Day Races). An easy way to use your 30-day race for visual accountability then is to give everyone on your team a different colored dot so visually, everyone can see at a glance, who’s responsible for which task.

For example, let’s say, my dot is bright green. If you’re looking at our Sprint Board and notice that a lot of the tasks I’m responsible for are either in the Doing or Done column, you’d probably think, “Bruce gets his stuff done.” If, on the other hand, most of my dots are still in the Hopper or the On Deck columns, you’d probably think, “Bruce, better get his act together. He’s holding the whole team back.”

Even better, if you hold your daily meeting in front of your Sprint Board, everyday there will be some accountability that each person is either getting their stuff done or not. This means that no one can hide (like they do in most businesses). Moreover, if someone is dragging, it’s pretty easy for you to say, “Hey Bruce, it seems like most of your tasks are in the Hopper still and we’re already into week two of this month, what’s up?”

So, what can you do this week to make accountability more visual in your business?

If you ever find your team is falling behind on their targets, pull out this post and remember these three simple principles.

  1. Increase their activity
  2. Reduce your reporting cycle
  3. Make accountability visible

The one thing you don’t want to do is reduce their target. You never want to create a culture where underperformance is rewarded because, in the end, you’ll simply get more underperformance and your employees won’t take their targets/KPIs/projects seriously (remember, what gets rewarded gets done).

So, don’t do it. Hold strong. Stick to your guns. And if, by chance, the metric/KPI/target was wrong, learn from it and fix it for the next quarter or year. Just don’t reduce it for this reporting period. You’ll be glad you didn’t.

To your accelerated success!

Bruce

The Four “Musts” of Scaling Any Business

The Four “Musts” of Scaling Any Business

Have you ever tried to solve a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle without a box top? If you have, then you know it’s pretty difficult.

Why? Because it’s hard to create something when you don’t know exactly what that something you’re supposed to create looks like.

Well, that same problem happens all the time with businesses when it comes to scaling. Most business owners and entrepreneurs know the word, scaling, but they don’t know exactly what it means. 

So, to alleviate that problem and gain absolute clarity on what building a scalable business looks like, watch this week’s video, simply entitled,

The Four Musts of Scaling Any Business


You’ll be glad you did!

To your accelerated success!

Bruce

P.S. If you’d like an image to help you remember the four musts, click on the following link or image for The Two Essential Frameworks to Scaling

 

 

5 Keys to Thinking Bigger About Your Business

5 Keys to Thinking Bigger About Your Business

How big is your dream for your business? And how big is your dream for this year?

When I ask most business owners and entrepreneurs this question, their answers are rarely very big. Typical answers go something like this …

  • I’d like to grow by maybe 10% this year (occasionally I’ll hear 15%)
  • I’d like to add one or two new staff members
  • If we can just hit the same numbers as last year, that would be awesome
  • If we could add ten new clients this year, that would be great

The problem with those statements is that they run smack dab into expectation theory. And what is expectation theory? Expectation theory states that, in general, what we expect is what we get.

It’s one of the inherent problems with goal setting. Not that goal setting is bad, but when you set a target to grow by 10%, you rarely grow by 20% or 50%—even though either of those could be viable options—if your expectations were set for them, but they’re not.

In other words, one of the biggest limiters to scaling any business is the expectation that you, the leader of your business have, as to what is possible for you and your business this year, as well as into the future.

So, if you want to build a more scalable business, one of the first places you’ll want to start is with your expectations of what you and your business are capable of achieving—and how fast you can achieve them. Once you adjust your thinking to thinking on a larger scale, you’ll be amazed at how much more will get done and at a much faster rate.

So, if you want to learn how to think bigger for your business, here are five keys to get you started on that journey.

I. Ask Bigger, More Empowering Questions

If you’ve been reading any of my content for any length of time you know that I frequently say that questions are the key to thinking. The way our brains have been wired is that questions trigger thoughts. So, if you want to think bigger, by definition, you need to ask bigger, more empowering questions.

But what do bigger, more empowering questions look like? Well, here are a few sample questions to get your brain engaged.

  • What if we could grow by 30% (or 50% or 100%) this year? What would that look like?
  • What if we were to expand our geographical footprint outside of our community/city and grow statewide (or regionally or nationally or globally)?
  • What if we were to become the national leader in our market? What would that look like?
  • What if we were to become a $100M company in the next five years. What would that look like?
  • What if we were to 10X our results in the next three years. What would that look like?
  • What if we were to become the most innovative company in our market space over the next three years. What would that look like?
  • What if we were to build 50 company stores over the next few years. What would that look like?

You get the idea. As Tony Robbins says so well.

The quality of your questions determines the quality of your answers.

In other words, ask a small question, get a small answer. Ask a bigger question, get a bigger answer.

So, if you want to scale your business faster, you might want to expand the kinds of questions you’re asking yourself. Ask bigger, more empowering questions and you’ll get bigger, more empowering answers.

II. Surround Yourself With Big Thinkers

There’s an educational theory known as social learning theory. The common phraseology describing this theory states, “You become like those with whom you spend the most time.” This is why most parents ride their kids to pick their friends carefully because we all know, that who we spend time with does influence the person we become.

Realizing this, it just makes sense that as adults, we ought to be just as intentional about choosing those with whom we’re going to spend our time. This principle works on multiple levels. For example,

  • Socially. You have a massive amount of control over with whom you spend your time. Why not decrease the amount of time you spend with small thinkers and intentionally increase the amount of time you spend with people who stimulate your brain and encourage you to dream bigger.
  • Intellectually. You choose what you put into your brain. You can either spend a lot of time reading the news or reading entertainment or reading biographies of successful entrepreneurs and risk takers. Choose wisely.
  • Meetings/Conferences.  When you go to conferences or meetings of seminars, there are always a wide range of people present. You can either spend your time with small thinkers (“Let’s go get smashed”) or with big thinkers (“Let’s go change the world”). It’s your choice.

Every day you choose with whom you’re going to spend your time, either in person or through the mediums of the printed page or the internet (text, video or audio). Why not choose wisely and choose to spend more time interacting with those who will inspire you to think bigger?

III. Expose Yourself to Big Thinking Experiences

As you know, reading is a powerful medium. However, experiencing something firsthand is even more powerful because it invokes even more of your senses. You know this to be true. Reading about a vacation spot and experiencing that vacation spot are two completely different experiences.

So, as you’re thinking about how to think bigger, what kinds of experiences would help you dream bigger? Here are a few ideas to get your brain started on this.

  • Nature. Who isn’t inspired to think bigger when they observe the size and majesty of the ocean or a mountain or a waterfall?
  • Bigger Businesses. It could be a company larger in your industry (let’s say you’re an ad agency so you’d tour a larger ad agency) or it could be a company outside your industry (for example, tour Zappos). Either way, your brain should be fully engaged and motivated by either or both of those experiences.
  • Great Hospitality. Who isn’t inspired eating a gourmet meal in a top tier restaurant or staying in a beautiful hotel or resort?
  • History. Standing in the place where great men and women have walked before, from a battlefield to a castle to a workshop to museum can inspire you to think bigger and to think about the legacy you want to leave behind.

Whichever option (or options) you choose, make sure you use those experiences to fuel your big thinking. Use them to ask bigger questions and you’ll be inspired to think bigger.

IV. Get to Know the Back Story

One of the reasons why so many of us have trouble thinking big is because we look at others who’ve experienced more success than we have and we use that to confirm that we don’t have what it takes to experience that same kind of massive success. Note: I’m not affirming that comparison is a good idea, I’m simply acknowledging that’s what most of us do.

The problem with this (besides playing the comparison game) is that our perceptions of those who are more successful are shaped by PR narratives that don’t tell the full back story. There’s almost always something that isn’t being reported in the press.

For example, back in my old pastoral days, I met with a former pastor at one of the largest churches in the country (now, 20,000+ people per week). When I was asking him about the early days, one of the stories he told me that “no one reports,” is that when the church was only running 300 people per week, a large church down the road split and 500 people from that other church came to his former church one weekend later—which not only more than doubled their attendance, it automatically gave them as massive cash infusion because the people who came were from the wealthiest church in town, which then allowed them to do a lot more faster than they ever could have done apart from that split.

The reason why I believe these kinds of back story factoids are so important to thinking bigger is because they reduce the perceptional difference in our minds between us and them. The success stories you or I hear about or read about in Inc. magazine or on a webinar or at a conference, all make the heroes of these stories sound like “gods” (i.e. small g gods). The reality is almost always far more different. They’re just people like you and me.

What makes this so powerful is that once you know the back story, all of a sudden you’ll start thinking, “Well, if they can do it, I can do it.” Exactly! You’ll stop limiting yourself and start unleashing your potential.

V. Refuse to Be Mired in the Past or Today

To be mired means to be stuck (originally used to describe being stuck in mud). Another one of the reasons why so many business owners and entrepreneurs struggle with thinking big is because their brains are stuck in the past or are overwhelmed by the present.

For those stuck in the past, it’s usually related to some kind of failure in the past.

  • I’ve tried growing fast in the past and it didn’t work
  • I tried launching a new product and it didn’t work
  • I tried opening a second location and it was a miserable failure
  • I’ve hired several sales people and they’ve all failed

For those stuck in the present, it’s usually related to their sense of overwhelm with all that currently needs to be done.

  • I have so much on my plate, I can’t imagine doing any more.
  • Everyone is overworked around here. We don’t have any extra capacity. We’re all tapped out. Why dream of more?
  • I got into this business to create more freedom for myself. I’ve created a prison. Why would I ever want more of this?

Either way, stuck-ness related to the past or the present, is a strong deterrent to thinking big. So, what can you do to turn that around?

Well, one idea is to schedule dreaming time (this fits perfectly with your weekly/monthly planning times). In dreaming time, you mentally turn off that part of your brain that wants to use the past or the present to shut down any growth initiatives and instead you consciously focus on what ifs and the future.

One of the ways I’ve done this over the years when I’ve felt overwhelmed by either the failure of the past or the sense of overwhelm with the present is to play the “Let’s close this down and restart it” game. In essence, I would mentally say, “Okay, I’ve failed. I’m closing this down and restarting it again. Based on what I have left, what can I start with?”

Note: the answer is always far more than what I actually started with. And since this is day 1 (and there is no baggage), “How big can I grow this company based on what I now know and what I have left over to restart with?” I’ve played this game hundreds of times over the past few decades and it always works. It gets me to leave the past behind and focus entirely on the future.

That said, whatever mental game you need to play to get your head out of the past and/or present, play it. Those two realities, the past and present, are really irrelevant to your future success, unless you let them be. So, don’t let them be. Use any positive experiences from the past to fuel your motivation and use any negative experiences to fuel your learning, but never let the past or present keep you mired in them. Use them to propel you and your business onto even greater success.

So, there you have it. Five keys to thinking bigger.

  1. Ask bigger, more empowering questions
  2. Surround yourself with big thinkers
  3. Expose yourself to big thinking experiences
  4. Get to know the back story
  5. Refuse to be mired in the past or today

Trust me, if you use these five ideas on a consistent basis, you’ll start thinking bigger about your business. And once you start thinking bigger about your business, you’ll be amazed at how much faster you’ll scale and how much more impact you and your company will have.

To your accelerated success!

Bruce

How to Hire Fast While Scaling

How to Hire Fast While Scaling

When you’re engaged in scaling your business, you quickly discover that you have to increase the capacity of your business to be able to handle the demand of more customers/clients/members/patients (or whatever nomenclature you use).

And while there are several options for doing this like outsourcing, technology and systematization, eventually you realize you have to hire more people on your team.

But the natural problem you have when you’re scaling your business is … you don’t have a lot of time to devote to hiring—which is very bad news. Why? Because the national average is that most business owners and entrepreneurs only have a 30% success rate in hiring great talent, which, as you know is not a great rate (in school, we call that failing). Even worse, when you’re rushed, the probability for hiring well rarely goes up, it normally goes down.

So, how can you turn that around and increase the probability that you’ll hire great talent while you’re scaling? Well, to discover that, you’ll want to watch this week’s video, simply entitled, How To Hire Fast While Scaling.

 

 

To your accelerated success!

Bruce

How to Create a Manifesto that Rocks for Your Business

How to Create a Manifesto that Rocks for Your Business

When you started your business, did you start it just to make money or did you start it for a bigger purpose (while looking for an opportunity to make some money in the process of fulfilling that purpose)?

My guess is that you chose the latter option (most of us do). In light of the high failure rate of new businesses, along with the amount of time it takes to launch a new business, along with the uncertainty and headaches of leading a business, most business owners and entrepreneurs could actually make more money working for someone else.

Note: depending on which study you’re looking at, the average business owner in America only makes between $50K and $75K/year.

So, when you started your business, why did you start your business? What was its purpose? What problem were you trying to solve? Were you trying to

  • Alleviate someone’s pain
  • Accelerate someone’s performance
  • Enhance someone’s health
  • Improve organizational efficiencies
  • Keep someone out of jail
  • Protect someone’s investments, etc.

What was your purpose?

For example, when I started Wired To Grow and now BizScalers Club, I did so for a number of reasons. One of them was to alleviate pain. Why? Because I remember what it was like back in 1989 when I started my former church (my first full-time company vs. Johnson Driveway Sealing which basically paid for my schooling). I started with two families that moved out from Chicago to a suburb of DC where we had no contacts, no place to meet and no ongoing source of funds. I raised some money but we blew through that in no time.

We were only taking in around $200/week in offerings and it was costing us $350/week just to rent the movie theater. Forget salaries. In fact, in the first twelve months of Seneca Creek’s history, I took home $3,000 for twelve months of eighty hour work weeks. It was total pain. Can you relate? And I’ve never forgotten that pain. As we grew to 100, then 200, then 400 then 800 then 1,000 people per week and beyond, at each juncture, there was a massive amount of pain that I had to endure as the person at the top of the organization that no one else had to deal with or experience to get through to that next level. I’ve never forgotten that pain either.

So when I left pastoral ministry, one of my commitments was to help alleviate some of that pain for other business leaders. During the years I was leading and growing Seneca Creek, I spent a lot of time looking for mentors and other leaders who knew things I didn’t know so I could get through the pain of the next level faster and less painlessly. Part of my mission was and is to alleviate some of that pain for others like you.

In other words, people like you and me, do what we do in a financially beneficial way for a reason beyond just money. While the money is good, it’s the purpose that drives us to make the sacrifices we make.

So, the question I have for you is, how can you communicate that purpose to enough other people so that they’ll drawn to you and your cause—as employees, as customers, as followers, and as fans/referrers?

Well one way to do that is to create a manifesto for your business—a rallying cry for others to join you and to be a part of what you’re attempting to do.

Note: if you’re wondering if a manifesto actually makes a difference you might want to think through some of the manifesto’s you’ve probably heard of—like the Declaration of Independence and The Communist Manifesto. Both of those worked out pretty well. Or more recent versions like the Agile Manifesto or the Mozilla Manifesto. Or how about the Crossfit Manifesto or the Apple Manifesto (Here’s to the crazy one’s …). In other words, yes, manifestos can make a difference.

So, here are five steps to help you create a manifesto that rocks for your business.

I. Connect With Your Why

If you’re going to write a manifesto for your business, you might as well start with you. What are some of the issues that matter to you? What are some of the personality traits of the people you connect with and want to be a part of your cause? Think through the kinds of people who motivate you and inspire you.

What kind of language then would you use to connect to that group of people? For example, when Apple says,

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently,”

Who does that sound like? Steve Jobs. And who does he want to connect with? People like him. I also love the last line of the manifesto, “Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

In my case, when I was writing my manifesto for BizScalers (which you can see at the end of this post), I wanted to connect with my why so I used language like,

  • We are growth-oriented, high-impact business owners and entrepreneurs who refuse to conform to what’s normal, ordinary or acceptable.
Why? Because I’m committed to helping business owners and entrepreneurs who want to grow, not maintain. That’s part of my purpose. I also don’t want to be surrounded by people who are content with ordinary or doing what “everyone” thinks they should be doing.
Likewise, I also wrote,
  • We love hiring people, making them better and paying them well

Why? Because I want to help put people back to work. One of the great joys of starting and leading a growing business is hiring people, and paying them well so that you can help take care of them and their families. You get to put food on their tables, help them buy a house and put their kids through school. You get to play a part in providing them with the resources necessary to go on vacations and plan for retirement, etc. So, I put this line in my manifesto because I only want to attract other business owners and entrepreneurs who want to hire people and take good care of them (vs. solopreneurs or other business leaders who don’t want to hire people).

So, as you think about your manifesto and your why, what language can you use to describe the kind of people you want to attract to your cause and business?

II. Give Your Group a Name

If you’re going to take the time to create a manifesto, why not give your group/community a name. Why? Because there’s great power in a name. For example, when you meet someone who goes to a Crossfit gym, they don’t just think of themselves as normal weekend warriors or people who go to a gym, they think of themselves as “Crossfitters.”

Back in my old pastoral days, I used to call the people of my church, “Creekers” (short for Seneca Creek). I could then say, “Creekers do X, Creekers don’t do Y.” If you have kids, you may do the same thing. In my family, when our kids were growing up I used to say things like, “Listen, you’re a Johnson and Johnson’s do X (for example, Johnsons persevere) and we don’t do Y (for example, Johnsons don’t quit).

In my most recent venture, I searched for a name that would connect with the purpose of this community (to help business owners and entrepreneurs build more scalable businesses) and eventually decided on the name BizScalers. Why? Because that’s what I want every member to do, to scale their current biz and then hopefully do it over and over again. Plus, it’s a term I created so it’s unique to us.

So, as you look at your customers/clients/members/users, what name can you give to your group?

III. Define What They Will and Won’t Do

As I just mentioned with my daughters, part of creating culture is defining both what’s inside the boundary and what’s outside the boundary. That’s how every group knows who’s part of their group.

Listen to the words of the Crossfit Manifesto. Listen to how they define who’s in (and by definition, who’s out). Note: WOD = Workout of the Day.

We go hard. We kill WODs daily. We hit chest to bar. We push plyo. We fight through. We eat paleo. We clean and jerk. We finish strong. We suck less than yesterday. We straight up snatch. We work through exhaustion. We get results. We are determined. We are resolute. We are achievers. We aren’t just fit. We are Crossfit.

As you read those words, you probably got a pretty clear picture of who’s in and who’s out.

In the case of BizScalers, I chose phrases like

  • We are risk-takes and value creators who live to make a difference
  • We are get it done leaders. Excuse making is not in our nature. Taking responsibility is.
  • We never settle or conform. We play all out.
  • We refuse to be bottlenecks.
  • We build businesses that scale—businesses that are designed and built to grow fast, hand that growth well and deliver consistent and predictable results for our customers. Etc.

Clearly, not every business owner and/or entrepreneur fits those criteria so they clearly define who’s in and who’s not (and by extension, what BizScalers do and don’t do).

So, as you look at your community that you want to grow, what words and/or phrases can you use to define who’s in and who’s not?

IV. Make it Aspirational

People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They want to know that their life matters and that the time they’re investing in what you’re doing matters as well. So, connect to something aspirational.

When Whole Foods decided it was time to communicate what they were about, they created a campaign to connect with their manifesto. Here’s the end result of their process.

 

When you finish watching that video, you feel inspired because it’s aspirational.

In the case of BizScalers, I chose to use aspirational phrases like

  • We are big thinkers and dreamers who believe that anything we set our minds to we can achieve.
  • We transform ideas into realities and move markets
  • We are BizScalers and we’re here to do it again and again, because our markets, our families, our communities and our nation require us to do so.

I knew my manifesto was right on when the first person I sent this to wrote back a few minutes later saying, “WOW. After reading that, I felt like running through a couple walls and then doing 100 pushups.” Bingo.

So, how can you make your manifesto aspirational? How can you connect what you’re doing to something bigger than any one individually?

V. Get it Designed

This last one is optional but I’m going to encourage you to go the extra mile and make it happen. Google, “Business Manifestos” and then click on the images tab and you’ll see tons of examples. I’m going to give you mine at the end of this post so you can see a good illustration of this idea played out. However, whatever you do, make sure your manifesto is designed in such a way that your target market will want to read it.

In my case, since I work with business owners and entrepreneurs, I wanted something that looked professional. You might want something more artsy or more playful or more Art Deco or more country or more sporty or more …. I also wanted to stay brand consistent in colors so I chose blues because they fit my brand (whereas you might prefer reds or greens or purples or a combination of colors).

There is no one right design option. Just find a few sample manifest designs you like. Find a graphic artist and then have them try to recreate what you’re looking for. If you’re at all like me, you’ll end up going through several iterations.That’s fine. Perfection is overrated. Just get your manifesto to a place where you don’t mind publicly distributing it broadly.

So, there you go. Five keys to creating a business manifesto.

  1. Connect with your why
  2. Give your group a name
  3. Define what they will and won’t do
  4. Make it aspirational
  5. Get it designed.

When you’re done, let me know what you’ve come up with. I’d love to see your result!

To your accelerated success!

Bruce

P.S. Here’s the BizScaler Manifesto I promised I’d show you. Note: If this resonates with you, make sure you join us at www.BizScalers.com

Click here for a 8 1/2″ x 11″ version of the BizScalers Manifesto

The Number One Secret to Scaling Fast

The Number One Secret to Scaling Fast

If you were to pick your number one secret to fast growth, what would your secret be? Would you choose something like

  • Marketing automation
  • Hiring a superstar sales team
  • Systematizing your entire business
  • Finding an outside source of capital to accelerate growth
  • Building a top-notch executive team
  • Developing a consistent and predictable marketing machine
  • Building a well-known brand
  • Engaging in more paid advertising
  • Moving toward recurring revenue
  • Finding an urgent need that wants to be solved
  • Or something else …

For me, I think the number one secret to fast growth should be related to the number one problem that hinders the growth of every single business on the planet … the person at the top of that business (in this case, you).

Now, that’s not meant to be personal. If you’ve heard me talk about this before you know I always say that being the person at the top of a business or organization is always a good news/bad news story. On the good news side, you are the primary driver of your business’ success, but on the bad news side, you are also its primary bottleneck.

It doesn’t matter what size your business is. This is always true. Your business could be $500K, $5M, $50M, $500M or $5B … the reality is it could be larger, except for you.

Why is this always true?

“Because no business or organization can consistently perform at a level beyond the capacity of its senior leader.”

If you current capacity is that you can lead a $2M/year business, that’s where you’ll stay stuck, until you grow your capacity to lead, let’s say a $5M/year company. Because you now know how to lead a $5M/year business, you’ll make the kinds of decisions necessary for your business to grow to $5M and then you’ll get stuck there until you develop the capacity to lead a $6 or $7 or $10M/year business.

This is why every year, businesses that aren’t growing, let their CEOs go. It’s also why, every year, sports teams that aren’t winning, let their head coaches go. Why? Because they know that to get to the next level, they need a leader who’s able to lead to that next level. Someone who has to capacity to function at that level before the rest of the organization.

If this is true (and it is), then it just seems to make sense that the number one secret to scaling any business fast should be solving the capacity problem of the person at the top (i.e. you), who’s the primary bottleneck for growth.

So, what can you do to change you so you can break through your current growth limitations? What can you do to increase your capacity in order that your business can scale faster this year? To help you get there, here are three ideas worth considering.

I. Put Learning Time On Your Calendar Every Day

Rick Warren is the pastor of one of the largest churches in the US, Saddleback Community Church (they average over 26,000 people per week. To put this in perspective, the average NBA game draws a little over 17,000). The church started with him and his wife, Kay. So, how does someone go from a “one man show” to leading a massive church using multiple sites and hundreds of staff? I heard him give the answer back in the early 90’s. He said,

“Years ago I stopped worrying about growing my church and instead focused on growing me. The more I grew me, the more our church grew.”

That’s the key. And it’s true for all great leaders of great companies. As Marshall Goldsmith said in his classic book, entitled, “What Got You Here Won’t Get Your There,” you can’t rely on what you know today to get you to the next level.

Basically, if you had the capacity to lead a larger company, your business would be larger now. But it can’t because you’re still leading the way you led before. You’re still thinking the way you thought before. You’re still working the same way you did before, etc. If you want to get to the next level, you have to grow your capacity to lead at that level.

Think about it. How did you think a college dropout and druggie (Steve Jobs) ended up growing the most profitable company on the planet? It wasn’t because he knew how to lead a multi-billion dollar a year company when he was a 20 year old college dropout. It’s because he committed himself to continuous learning.

The practical way any small business leader can do this is by putting their learning time on their calendar. Years ago, I remember hearing Tom Peters say, “You = Your Calendar.” As soon as he said that I thought, “He’s right.” What’s on your calendar reflects your priorities and what you do most will determine who you’ll become.

In other words, if you want to scale your business, you have to get bigger. And the way you get bigger is by calendarizing your learning. In essence, you have to make a commitment to continual learning—to forcing yourself to change how you think, act and feel so you can move from one set of limitations to the next (just at a higher level).

My top recommendation for doing this is to block out your learning time at the beginning of the week. Look at your calendar every Sunday evening (or first thing on Monday morning) and block in at least ONE HOUR PER DAY for learning (and one hour is a minimum, not a maximum).

You could pick the same time every day (e.g. 10:00 a.m. or 3:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m. at night at home). Or if your schedule doesn’t allow a consistent time every day, block in at least one hour every day for learning. Plus, feel free to add more time on the weekends.

So, the key question for you right now is, when will you block out your one hour per day for the rest of this week?

Note: If you think this is outrageous standard or practice, here are a few reference points

  • Warren Buffett reads 500 pages per day
  • Mark Cuban reads 3 hours per day
  • Mark Zuckerberg reads 2 books per week
  • Bill Gates reads 50 books per year
  • The typical CEO of a Fortune 500 company reads 4-5 books per month

Looking at that list, it seems like there might be something to this practice of continual learning …

II. Shore Up Your Weaknesses

I know this cuts against the grain of a lot of leadership and management thinking these days but stick with me for a moment. If you want to sell a lot of books or get a lot of views on YouTube or TEDx, tell people what they already want to hear (i.e. run with your strengths). Who would want to argue with that? Do more of the stuff you love and don’t do the stuff you hate. That’s a great recipe for clicks and sales.

However, that is not how winning is done. You can’t just focus on strengths. Why? Because it’s not strengths that normally take businesses and leaders down, it’s weaknesses. For example,

  • The business leader who can sell all day long … but doesn’t understand cash flow
  • The business leader who knows every penny that’s spent … but doesn’t understand how to market well
  • The business leader who loves to cast vision and motivate people … but can’t execute on time and under budget
  • The business leader who knows how to build a great product … but doesn’t understand supply chain management
  • The business leader who can get stuff done … but leaves a trail of relational wreckage everywhere he walks

You see, it’s not strengths that usually hinder growth, it’s weaknesses. The best visual I can come up with for you is a wooden bucket with twelve slats of wood of varying heights in a circle latched together. Let’s say one slat is 6 inches tall and the remainder are at least 8-12 inches tall. What’s the capacity for how high the water can go in that bucket?

Despite the fact that 11 of the 12 slats are at least 8 inches high, the water will come gushing out of that bucket as soon as it reaches 6 inches. Why? Because capacity is limited not by strengths, but by weaknesses.

This is why every year when football teams go to the draft, they don’t say, “Hey, we’ve got a great quarterback and several receivers, let’s draft more of them.”  No, they say, “Since we already have a great quarterback and receiving core, where we’re in trouble is our linebacker and defensive back crew.. Let’s draft some of them.” In other words, they draft to their weaknesses, not to their strengths, because that’s how winning is done.

Winning is done when you run with your strength but you shore up your weaknesses.

The reason I’m focusing this point on shoring up weaknesses is because, by default, most of us will focus on our strengths. That’s a given. If you love leadership, you’re going to study more leadership. If you love marketing, you’re going to study more marketing. If you love finance, you’re going to study more finance … by default.

Which is why I always encourage business owners and entrepreneurs to be intentional about shoring up their weaknesses. Why? Because by nature, most of us will avoid dealing with what we’re not as good at and spend more time doing what we’re naturally good at.

However, as a business owner/entrepreneur, you can’t afford to do that if you want to build a great company. People on your team can be specialists. But as the person at the top of your business, you can’t do that. You have to be good at a lot of things. If you’re not, those things (those weaknesses) will hinder you and your company.

So, what areas do you have to be good at as the person at the top of your company? Well, here at Wired To Grow, we use a scale model to remind us of those areas

In essense, you need to be great at twelve different areas.

  • Strategy
  • Systems
  • Innovation
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Hiring
  • Management
  • Customer Service
  • Operations
  • Leadership
  • You (in terms of your growth and productivity)
  • Cash/money management

As you look at that list (or diagram), what do you think are your biggest weaknesses? And what can you do to shore them up?

Whatever you answers are, make sure that shoring up your weaknesses is a part of your learning plan for this coming year. Personally, I recommend focusing on shoring up one weakness per quarter. This way, by the end of a year, you should make significant progress on shoring up four areas that were weaknesses that now aren’t. When you add that to your natural desire to run with your strengths, you’ll be in a much better position to scale your business to the next level.

Note: please don’t mishear me. I’m not advocating that you focus all your attention on your weaknesses. That would not be a recipe for winning. Winning is done by running with your strengths while shoring up your weaknesses.

III. Join BizScalers

This may sound self-serving, but hang with me for a moment. If it’s true that your business is held back by your capacity and if it’s true that it’s your weaknesses that limit your capacity, then it would seem to make sense that the solution to scaling your business faster would be to find an educational resource that could help you increase your capacity by shoring up your weaknesses, while encouraging you to run with your strengths. If. that is true (and it is), then you should check out the new BizScalers Club

Having coached business owners and entrepreneurs for over a decade now, I’ve noticed some inherent problems with the current options for getting help in solving this capacity problem.

  1. Courses are helpful but they only focus on one sliver of your job (let’s say, leadership or marketing or sales or a subset of one of those, like using LinkedIn to generate sales).
  2. Most courses are usually 6-8 modules long and that’s it. They’re not updated. And there’s no way to interact with the creator or other course takers so if you have a problem six months or three years from now, you’re on your own.
  3. When it comes to coaching, the inherent problem with coaching is that it’s a reactive relationship. Your coach asks you, “What do you want to work on today?” And then you work on that. Few coaches have an intentional program that they’re leading you through to help you get to the next level. It’s reactive, not proactive.
  4. It’s rare to find a business coach who’s really good at all the different hats you have to wear. A sales coach tends to see everything as a sales problem. A leadership coach thinks everything is a leadership problem. A productivity coach thinks everything is a time management problem. A marketing coach thinks everything is a marketing problem. Etc. The problem with this scenario is that your job isn’t one dimensional.
  5. Finally, all of the above tends to get very expensive. Decent courses for business owners and entrepreneurs tend to cost between $997 and $1,997 per course and decent business coaches run between $500 to $2,500 per month (also known as $6,000 to $30,000 per year)

So to solve all of these problems, along with your primary growth problem (i.e. your capacity) and to do so at a very reasonable price point, I decided to create the BizScalers Club, a membership community which solves all of the above and then some. No longer will you have to try to find a new course every time you want to solve a problem or increase your capacity. You’ll just go to the BizScalers Club where you’ll be able to find the answer. I’ve already pre-loaded it with over 50 hours of video content (plus audio versions of that content) and I’m adding more every week.

Now, if you’re wondering, “What do I get if I become a member of BizScalers?” you’re going to love all that you get.

  1. Access to every core course currently available (over 50+ hours at launch). Plus, it’s not modulated so you can access anything and everything all on day one.
  2. A new training course every month with detailed, step-by-step instructions and frameworks
  3. A monthly live Q&A call (along with a vault of past Q&A calls, starting with my beta group) to ask questions, share wins, get material reviewed, etc.
  4. A private member’s only forum (that’s not on Facebook) to ask me and other members questions
  5. A huge vault of documents and templates (over 150 at launch) that you can download and use immediately
  6. Expert interviews on key business owner and entrepreneur topics
  7. Shorts – quick videos in response to member questions that I think everyone can benefit from
  8. Leadership Lessons from the Trenches – weekly inspiration for becoming a better leader
  9. Access to our campaigns and tests so you can learn from them and model them
  10. Accountability quads
  11. Member only discounts to future eventsPlus, you know we have some bonuses …
  12. Bonus #1: The Becoming Scalable Implementation Program (yes, the same one that currently retails for $1,997 comes included with your membership … and yes, that’s an outright bribe to get you to try the BizScalers Club)
  13. Bonus #2: Delegation Mastery
  14. Bonus #3: Personality Type Leadership
  15. Limited Bonus #4: For the next 50 members, I’ll gift two, one-on-one, 30-minute help calls with me.

How cool is that? And all at a very reasonable price point.

So, if you want to scale your business faster this year, why don’t you check out the brand new BizScalers Club and then join me and other business owners and entrepreneurs as we scale our businesses together!

www.BizScalers.com

You will not regret it. I guarantee it.

To your accelerated success!

Bruce

P.S. Remember, the sooner you increase your capacity, the faster your business will scale. So, don’t wait or waste time. Check out the new BizScalers Club right now and then join us today! You literally have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

5 Keys to Scaling Your Business Fast

5 Keys to Scaling Your Business Fast

Did you know that there are businesses that grow by over 250% per year … year after year?

Did you know that one simple tweak to your business model could completely change your business?

Did you know that one simple change in your marketing could completely change the growth trajectory of your business?

Did you know that there’s a lie you’ve been told for years about marketing that’s probably holding you back from scaling your business? And

Did you know that the single biggest hindrance to the growth of your business is completely within your control?

Well, if any of those questions interest you, make sure you register and join me live this Thursday, February 22nd at 12:00 p.m. EST for my new masterclass webinar, simply entitled

5 Keys to Scaling Your Business Fast

You’ll be glad you did!

To your accelerated success!

Bruce

P.S. You know this webinar will be packed with highly actionable and pragmatic ideas. So, why wait?

Register for the webinar now

Breaking Free of Shiny-Object Syndrome

Breaking Free of Shiny-Object Syndrome

If there’s one common malady that most business owners and entrepreneurs fall prey to it would probably be “shiny-object syndrome.” It affects virtually all of us. Why? Because of how we’re wired.

Normal people don’t start businesses, crazy people do. People like you and me who are curious, driven, resourceful, risk-takers who believe that an idea can be transformed into reality—a solution that can solve a problem and produce a positive economic exchange for both parties.

In essence, we’re opportunists. We see an opportunity to make a difference (and make a dollar or two in the process) and somehow believe, against all odds, that we’re the ones who can make it happen.

Which means that we’re also a pretty confident bunch. We believe that we can do whatever we set our minds to. And because we’re usually good at a lot of things, we tend to believe we can handle more than we actually can.

So, what happens when you take someone like us and place a new opportunity in front of them? Exactly. You get shiny object syndrome. In other words, if you ever wonder why you’re so gullible for shiny-object syndrome or why you tend to find your mind diverted all day long or why you start so many things that you can’t actually complete, it’s no wonder. It’s how you’re wired.

Unfortunately, it’s also one of the primary hindrances to your success. And moreover, both you and your company are paying a steep price for it. Why? Because one of the bedrock keys to success is concentrated focus (not diverted attention) over long periods of time.

So, how can you break free from this negative malady known as shiny-object syndrome? Well, here are a few ideas for you today.

I. Own That This is Actually a Problem

The first step to recovery in virtually anything is to first own that you have a problem. Unfortunately, many of us don’t believe this is a problem (remember that unshakeable confidence that we discussed earlier). We tend to think we can do more than we can—which is usually caused by a lack of self-acuity and an unawareness of how our behaviors affect others.

As optimists, we tend to remember more of the positives, than the negatives. For example, we’ll remember the ONE time when we were balancing ten projects and successfully grew by 25% but we won’t remember ALL of the other times when we continually felt overwhelmed and didn’t get that much done (and grew by 1-3%).

Or we won’t pay attention to how frustrated our employees are when we keep moving the ball all the time. For example, one of the common fears amongst all employees is a leader going to a conference. Why? Because they know that when he/she comes back they’ll have shiny-object syndrome and want to go in another direction … until the next conference … when they’ll want to go in another direction, etc.

Note: I’ve done enough employee surveys to know this is true.

But beyond all of that, lack of focus is a growth killer. No one can move 50 things down the field at the same time. And who’s the one trying to move 50 things down the field at one time? Exactly. You.

So, own it. The lack of concentrated focus over a long period of time in your business derives itself from you. Until you own that, nothing will change.

II. Relentlessly Embrace Focus As Your Modus Operandi

Focus is a way of life. It’s not something that you occasionally do. It’s a ruthless way of living whereby you intentionally say “No” to a lot of things in order that you can say, “Yes” to a few things.

Several years ago, Jim Collins wrote a famous article about the importance of creating a “Not To Do” list. It immediately caught on. Why? Because he was right. Success is far more about editing out than adding in—the exact opposite of the natural bent for those of us who call ourselves entrepreneurs.

Which is why I used the phrase, “relentlessly embrace,“ because this is going to be a fight. However, it has to become your modus operandi, your primary way of operating, especially as you begin to scale.

Why? Because the natural tendency for most business owners and entrepreneurs whenever they’re trying to scale up is to add more. To add more to what you’re doing. To add more products. To add more markets. To add more services. Etc. But that tendency to keep adding more will kill you and your business far faster than staying focused ever will.

As you have more people and more money, more opportunities will pop up on your screen. And you’ll find it easy to say, “Yes,” to more and more of them because it’s in your nature.

But you must fight this. I’ve watched this happen time and time again, in both small and large businesses. Whenever a leader (or a business) allows their attention to be diverted by other opportunities (which, in and of themselves, are probably good opportunities), the business suffers. They were growing, then they weren’t (or they were growing at a nice pace, let’s say 25% or more per year and now they’re growing by 5%).

There is a time and place to add. But if you really want to grow, focus has to become your default. Editing has to become a way of life. Your “Not To Do” list has to become larger than your “To Do” list.

III. Focus Down To A Few Big Projects

In my BizScalers Club, we focus everything down to three to five big projects every 90 days. That’s it. And those three to five projects should be in alignment with your annual plan (which should have only 3-5 growth accelerators and 3-5 constraint eliminators).

And every week, using our weekly planner, we write out those three to five projects and the next few steps for that week to turn each key project into reality. Everything in alignment. Focused in on just a few big projects. Why? Because that’s how success happens.

As I wrote above, no one can move 50 things down the field at once. So, how are you doing?

What are the three to five big projects that you need to be focused on this quarter?

Do you need to focus on

  • Developing a systematic lead generation marketing machine?
  • Enhancing your relentless sales system?
  • Building a new employee or customer onboarding system?
  • Overseeing a new software build?
  • Hiring a new sales person and onboarding them well?
  • Systematizing some of the work you’re currently doing so you can delegate that work to someone else?
  • Creating a new launch campaign for a new product/service?
  • Developing a better business model?
  • Or something else?

Whatever it is, don’t write up a list of 10 to 25 or even 40 items. Write up a list of three to five and stay focused on them until they’re executed properly.

IV. Focus on One Primary Conversion Strategy

Another frequent problem of shiny object syndrome is the addiction to adding more and more marketing channels and platforms. You watch a webinar on LinkedIn and say to the team, “We need to create a Linkedin system.” Next week, you run into another business owner who’s killing it on Instagram and say to your team, “We need to create an Instagram system.” The following week you’re reading a book and the author grew her business on direct mail so you say to your team, “We need a direct mail campaign.”

The following week, you watch another webinar on automated funnels and you say to your team, “We need to create a series of automated funnels.” Later that week you’re talking with a friend who’s built his entire business with webinars so you say to your team, ‘We need a webinar system.” Etc. Etc. Etc.

You know the drill because you’ve lived it. We want it all. Free, paid, and partnerships. We want to be on every platform and using every available means possible to get customers/clients/member/patients. Why? Because we foolishly believe that more is better. That if we simply had more hooks out there, we’d catch more customers/clients/members/patients.

However, the opposite is usually true. There are plenty of businesses out there that have built entire multi-million dollar empires on just one or two primary marketing channels connected to a conversion process. The key is that they got really good at using that one marketing channel and turning that into a cash conversion system for them and their business instead of doing twenty different channels and platforms poorly.

So, if you were to pick one or two marketing channels and work those channels relentlessly so that your business could master that channel (or those few channels) what would your primary channel(s) be?

Note: a simple example of this would be mastering Facebook ads leading to a webinar to a sales page to a customer. Until that’s crushing it, you don’t need to be adding other options or platforms.

V. Focus on Going Deep With Your Current Customers

The final area of focus for today is overcoming another natural tendency for most business owners and entrepreneurs, which is the tendency to focus more on acquiring new customers than on going deep with current customers. No matter what metric you’re using, it’s always cheaper to sell to a current customer since there’s no cost of customer acquisition.

So, why do we keep messing this up? Because it sounds sexier to go after new customers. It sounds cooler in our minds to be able to say, “We added 100 new customers this month!” that to say, “We increased the average transactional value of our customer base by 30% this month.”

But buyers are buyers. And the longer someone is with you, the higher the probability that a good percentage of them will buy more and more from you.

In other words, there’s nothing wrong with going after new customers, but the fastest path to cash is almost always with your current customer base who already know, like and trust you. Going deeper with them will happen faster and at higher price points than it ever will with newbies.

So, focus on what generates cash. What else can you sell your current customers?

  • Can you sell them more of what they’re currently buying?
  • Can you find an add on to what you’re currently selling?
  • Can you sell a higher value product than what they’re currently buying?
  • Can you sell them on a subscription model? Or a subscription to maintain or service what they bought?
  • Can you offer them an adjacent product to what they’ve already bought? Etc.

Keep playing with this question because so many business owners and entrepreneurs get this one wrong. Acquiring new customers is critical but focusing on going deeper with those whom you already have as customers should be your first priority, not something you’ll get to “some day.”

Well, there you have it. Five keys to breaking free of shiny object syndrome.

  1. Own that this is actually a problem
  2. Relentlessly embrace focus as your modus operandi
  3. Focus down to a few big projects
  4. Focus on one primary conversion process
  5. Focus on going deep with your current customers

If you follow these five keys, you’ll find that your business grows faster, generates more revenue, makes more impact and allows you to experience more freedom.

To your accelerated success!

Bruce

How to Avoid Major Breakdowns While Scaling Your Business

How to Avoid Major Breakdowns While Scaling Your Business

The good news is you want to scale your business. The bad news is that a lot of businesses have tried to scale and haven’t succeeded. In fact, some have gone out of business exactly because they tried to scale.

So how can you avoid that? What are the major breakdowns that tend to frequently cause business owners and entrepreneurs to get stuck in their scaling efforts—and how can you avoid making those same mistakes yourself?

If you find either of those questions interesting, then you’ll want to keep reading this week’s post on how to avoid the major breakdowns that frequently occur whenever a business owner/entrepreneur attempts to scale their business.

I. Fall In Love with Cash

Back in the early 1980’s (a very long time ago) I was an accounting major at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. And it was probably my first day in accounting 101 when the professor said, “In business, cash is king.” I’ve never forgotten that. You can manipulate data to tell all kinds of stories in financial reports but there’s one report that matters more than any other in scaling—your cash flow report. Nothing else comes close.

If there’s one universal truth about scaling it’s this

“Growth sucks cash!”

So, if you want to scale your business, you have to constantly be forecasting and managing cash. If you have cash today, awesome. But if you have $200K in cash today and think, “Now’s the time to scale up” so you start adding people and technology that cause you to bleed $80K/month, you have a potential problem in a few months if sales lag at all.

This same scenario happens if you bill in arrears. If Joe works on account A today, at the beginning of the month, and you bill him out at $200/hour, you pay him for those hours on either the 15th or 30th of that month. However, if you bill your clients at the end of the month (i.e. the first week of the next month) and then bill on net 30, you won’t receive money until somewhere 30-45 days after you paid Joe for that labor (and that’s if the company pays you within 30 days, which, for some companies, is a huge assumption).

For one person, that might not seem like a major problem, but when you’re scaling, that happens with everyone whose time is billed. In essence, you become a bank for your clients. The $8,000 you paid Joe, 45 days before you got paid (with no interest or fee for being a bank) is now multiplied by the number of billable people you have (let’s say, 15), which means you’re now carrying a $120,000 cash flow loss for those 30-45 days. Ugh!

In other words, if you want to scale, you have to fall in love with cash and cash flow management. Far too many businesses that have tried to scale have gotten into trouble because they got too far out over their skis—they weren’t paying attention to cash flow. What might look good today could look terrible in three to six months.

II. Staff Ahead of Demand

This might seem counterintuitive based on point one, but if you’re managing cash well, it shouldn’t be. One of the more common problems in most small businesses is that they usually wait until they absolutely need to hire someone and then wait some more.

What makes this so problematic is that very few businesses can go out and hire an A-player staff member this week. Just think back on your hiring experience. Between the time you decided you needed to hire someone and the time you actually did and they were on your payroll, what was the average length of time between those events? Rarely does that happen within 30 days. More often, it takes three to six months (note: the qualification was A-player staff member, not warm body).

Using whatever number of weeks/months your average is, you can see why this would be a problem with scaling. If you wait until demand is needed and it takes you, let’s say, three months on average to find an A-player staff member, what happens to your growth? Exactly, it plateaus.

However, if you know it takes three months, on average, to find an A-player staff member, and you’re monitoring your growth well, three to four months BEFORE demand requires it, you should begin your hiring process. This way, you’ll have no constraint on your growth. You’ll simply keep growing because you increased your company capacity before capacity could be reached.

So, how far before demand do you need to start your searches?

Note: you can short-circuit some of this be constantly working on your virtual bench ahead of time.

III. Systematize Your Hiring and Onboarding Processes

Following on the heels of point two is another common problem of business owners and entrepreneurs when it comes to scaling, hiring poorly. Note: most business owners and entrepreneurs don’t like to own this principle because of selective memory. They remember the good hires and forget most of the bad ones. But, on average, most business leaders are successful at hiring A-players somewhere in the 15-30% range (in school, we call that an F).

If you want to figure out your ratio, list all of the people you’ve ever hired over the years, then put a letter grade next to them (A, B, C, D or F). Add up all of the A’s and divide that by the total number of hires you’ve made. Chances are the percentage isn’t as high as you originally imagined.

There are a number of reasons for this but right at the top of that list is that most business owners and entrepreneurs have no process for hiring, let along onboarding new hires. Typically, it’s a very loose, seat-of-the-pants process driven by the desire to get this done as soon as possible—and then we wonder why so few hires are good hires.

This becomes exponentially worse whenever you’re trying to scale because you have to hire faster than normal and you need to have highly capable people who can quickly make a contribution to the team or you’ll stall out your scaling efforts.

The better option is to create a step-by-step process for hiring. In BizScalers, we use a 12 step process. You can refine that down to fewer if you’d like, but you need to create a step-by-step process for hiring that you use EVERY SINGLE TIME to ensure you have the best chance at hiring great talent—and then you need a step-by-step onboarding process to ensure they get up to speed quickly and fall in love with your company.

So, what is your process for hiring and onboarding? And is each step in your processes documented and used every single time?

If you want to scale, you need to nail this one down.

BTW, the national average that I’ve seen is that one out of every three hires is gone within six months. That’s a major problem when scaling.

IV. Refuse to Be the Bottleneck

Technically, this isn’t possible but the principle is valid. Let me explain. In every business, the business owner/entrepreneur is both the primary reason for that business’ growth as well as its primary bottleneck. This is true, no matter how large your businesses is—whether you’re doing $500K this year or $5M or $50M or $500M or $5B. Whatever the current limitation is of your company, you’re the bottleneck (hence why I said, technically this isn’t possible).

However, you can become a bottleneck at a higher level. That’s why, if you want to scale, you want to refuse to be the bottleneck at your current level. If you’ve led your business to be a $2M per year business, that’s awesome. Very few companies make it to $2M. However, the reason you’re not a $5M/year business is probably because you’re not leading at the level that a $5M/year CEO would. The solution is,

“Grow the leader, grow the business”

To keep this short, there are two things that are absolutely critical if you want to avoid being the bottleneck. One, you need to commit to learning how to lead at a higher level. That’s why I run The BizScalers Club. It’s an educational platform designed to help you learn how to design and build a more scalable business. However, you don’t have to be a member to grow. There are lots of options for how to do this. The key is that you commit to growing you. And my simple rule for this is commit to scheduling at least one hour PER DAY to learning at least 5-7 days per week.

The second key to refusing to be the bottleneck when you’re scaling is to become a delegation master, not a dumper. Most business owners and entrepreneurs are delegation dumpers, “Sally, take care of this,” as if just giving someone a task is enough.

To help you master this, here’s the link to a free download (no opt-in required) and video training on The Business Owner’s Perfect Delegation Checklist.

If you want to scale, you have to grow yourself first and then delegate like a boss.

V. Change Before Your Have To

Years ago I was told that Peter Drucker said that organizations have to change their structure for every 45% growth. Whether he said that or not, the basic idea holds that as organizations grow, the organization itself needs to continually adapt to the new reality. When you were a company of five and “everyone knew everything” that worked at that point. However, at 15 employees, that doesn’t work very well. And at 50, forget it.

Back in the early days of my pastoral career when our church was averaging around 120 people per week, I learned that the 200 barrier  (referring to weekly attendance) was the pastor barrier (similar to the business owner barrier) where the ministry had to change from one person making all the decisions to a staff and leader decision-making and ministry. I also learned that the 400 barrier was the board barrier where the board members, who in the early days are basically unpaid staff, needed to give up those responsibilities and trust that staff members should be doing that work and they should move to more of a policy-making and oversight board. Note: both of these changes are hard to make (i.e. senior pastors and boards giving up control is not easy to accomplish), which is why most churches don’t break the 200 and 400 barriers.

However, because I knew these were the barriers we were heading into, when we were averaging between 150–180 people per week, I made both of those changes at the same time. They were far from easy (especially board members giving up control) but the result was that we soared through both of those barriers when others got stuck (and some are still stuck there 25 years later).

In your business, if you want to scale, you should constantly be thinking about how you and your business need to change before you have to

  • What products or services do we need to add or delete to our mix before we have to?
  • What do we need to improve or innovate to stay ahead of our competitors?
  • How do we need to adjust our org chart and hires before we run into a problem?
  • What technology do we need to change out or acquire before we’re required to?
  • Do we have some people on our team who were effective in the past whom we no longer can justify on the payroll?
  • Do we need to increase the quality of our staff team before we hit some capacity problems?
  • Do we need to upgrade to a new platform to handle the increased demand of our customers? Etc.

Scale efforts stall when someone at the top isn’t forcing the organization to constantly change before change is required. So, if you want to avoid that, make sure you’re constantly changing your organization, your strategies, your tactics, your people, your organizational design, your technology, etc. before you have to.

So, there you have it—five keys for how you can avoid some of the major breakdowns that frequently occur whenever a business attempts to scale.

  1. Fall in love with cash
  2. Staff ahead of demand
  3. Systematize your hiring and onboarding process
  4. Refuse to be the bottleneck
  5. Change before you have to

If you do each of those five things, you’ll avoid some of the most common breakdowns any business owner/entrepreneur encounters whenever they attempt to scale their business.

To your accelerated success!

Bruce

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