Many people will tell you that the first million is the hardest. When you’re first starting out and trying to get your business off the ground, it can be a struggle. Whether you’re seeking angel investors or your bootstrapping the endeavor yourself, pulling it all together to the point where you can close that first sale can feel like an incredible uphill battle. All of that may be true, but it’s only part of the story.
As the Executive Chairman, President, or CEO of your company, you know as well as anyone that even established businesses can struggle getting to the next level without risking what they already have. You might feel like you’ve hit a plateau, that everything that you’re doing now is to maintain the status quo. It can feel like a running in a hamster wheel, like you’re going through the motions without actually getting anywhere.
So, what can you do? To generate sustainable and meaningful growth, you must first enter the right kind of mindset.
One Must Have a Short-Term Business Plan
When most business owners consider what it takes to achieve sustainable growth, they put themselves on a very long time horizon. They think about the ramifications that their actions today will have on the business five, 10, or even 20 years down the line. While it is certainly prudent to be mindful of the future, market conditions change rapidly and think about what you can (and should) do right now. You need to take a step back and see the forest for the trees.
At this point, you’re likely already familiar with some of the steps involved in building your business plan. Entrepreneur.com has a great summary article that can serve as a refresher on the topic. It covers some of the basics, like deciding on your objectives, determining your financing goals, and figuring out how you’re going to implement the plan.
And while the long-term horizon is useful for some purposes, a shorter-term business plan is what you need if you want to meaningfully increase your profitability. To this end, you should be looking at a time horizon of one year, laying out what needs to be done in the next 12 months to achieve your sales growth goals.
Discover How to Scale Your Effectively Business
Very early on in grade school, we’re taught that one plus one is two, one plus two is three, one plus three is four, and so forth. That’s true in a purely arithmetic paradigm, but on a more symbolic basis, what you’ll find is that one plus one can equal three, and one plus two could equal five or more.
Put another way, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Or two heads are better than one. In business, it’s far too easy to put on the blinkers and think of your business as an isolated silo. Your resources are between those four walls, and all the tools you have at your disposal are right in front of you. However, that’s not at all the case, because there is so much more than can be achieved when you collaborate with others.
To generate the kind of growth that you desire, you need to develop new strategic relationships with other businesses and organizations for mutual benefit. These new relationships can dramatically impact your success, because you are able to leverage your respective strengths, mitigate your respective weaknesses, and really take advantage of that synergistic magic that happens when you work smarter, not harder.
Focus on What Moves the Needle
In Measure What Matters, legendary venture capitalist John Doerr outlines the concept of OKRs, or Objectives and Key Results. He’s funded such notable tech companies as Compaq, Intuit, Amazon, Google and Twitter, having already worked at Intel for a number of years in their sales department.
The key appeal of the OKR framework is multi-fold, but two key characteristics stand out. First, it is designed to create alignment throughout the organization, from the President and CEO at the top, all the way down to the workers on the front lines. It doesn’t matter if everyone is great at paddling if they’re not all paddling in the same direction. This encourages cross-department collaboration and the minimization of redundancy.
But perhaps even more importantly, it is designed to provide a clear focus for the company. It is far too easy to get distracted by newfound opportunities (and threats), veering off in 15 different directions, while making minimal progress on any of them. To steer the ship in the right direction, you must first determine what that direction is and make it a priority.
And so, in developing the short-term business plan mentioned above, it is critical that you restrict your ambitions and your objectives so that you can achieve maximum progress. To this end, focus on no more than three or four decisions per year that really matter. Focus on what will actually move the needle.
Have a Goal, and Know How to Get There
There’s a very common misconception in the business community that you only need a mentor when you’re first getting started and learning the ropes. At that point in the evolution of the business, you may be overwhelmed by all the moving parts, perplexed by the jargon, and anxious about what you should be doing. However, the value of a business coach is arguably even more important once you are already established and need to determine where to go next.
A great example of this are the CEO coaching services from CEO Coaching International (CEOCI). They offer assistance and guidance with executing your plan, working to maximize your company’s sales performance. This isn’t coaching for new startups; their clients currently generate $6 billion in annual revenue.
The best way to learn is from someone who has been there, deep in the trenches themselves, as they can offer actionable insights on how you can grow your own business. Every CEOCI coach is a proven CEO, some having led billion-dollar businesses. And these services work; clients see a median profit growth rate of 210 percent. If you want to win big, you’ve got to think big.
This can all be seen and summarized within the latest news that CEO Coaching International has successfully closed a $250M investment round with Blackstone Group LP.
Bryce Maddock of Taskus, went on to say “CEO Coaching International has been amazing at helping me and our leadership team to grow from $15 million in annual revenue to an over $500 million valuation.”
Over five years, the company has seen their organization grow to over 11,000 employees.
Understanding What Success Looks Like
The last piece of the puzzle is arguably the most ethereal in nature. As you develop your plans and plan your strategy, it’s easy to fall into the trap of looking at your business in a decidedly cold and statistical way. Numbers are important, but at the heart of your business are your people. If you want to achieve sustainable and meaningful growth, you need to build a corporate culture that supports that kind of mindset.
Everyone from the top-down, everyone from the bottom-up has to feel like they’ve got some skin the game. Motivating your people goes beyond waving monetary rewards in front of them, as they need to feel a real connection with what the company stands for and what it is trying to accomplish. Company culture is not to be overlooked.
And the right culture paired with the right strategy, implemented intelligently and guided with an experienced coach… that’s an unbeatable formula for success.