In working with hundreds, if not thousands of businesses, I’m exposed to something most business owners aren’t – I get to see the inside workings of all these businesses and understand the owners mindset.
What I can tell you is that there is no silver bullet. No one thing that you can do to catapult you to one million dollars, but there are a number of strategies that great businesses follow.
But here’s the thing, most business owners have great idea’s, so it’s not a lack of things they can do to improve their business. The problem lies all around execution and implementation. It always has. What that means is that you might read or hear about a good idea, maybe a similar business is doing something great and you think to yourself that that would really help improve your business, but then, nothing. You get back to the day to day runnings of your business and nothing changes.
So how do you make sure your great ideas are actually executed? Simple, you need an accountability partner. Someone you regularly (read monthly) catchup with to review what has happened over the last 30 days. You set your action items for the next 30 days and they form your accountability. You have dictated what you want to do, why, how it will benefit your business, who is responsible for it and when it will be completed by. Your accountability partners role is to push you because we all need a little nudge to keep us on track.
Most people spend more time working in their business than on it. And when they have a moment to work on it, it’s usually on the wrong things. Here’s where most businesses get it wrong :
This is the ability for your business to seamlessly handle an increase in marketing, sales and delivery as your business grows. It’s ability to scale. So to get bigger you need to do more marketing, that then leads to more sales which then leads to more work to be completed. All of these take time and that is your biggest constraint.
What will break first when I 10x my business? If you ask yourself this, the answer 9 times out of 10 is you. You personally will be the biggest constraint on business growth. That’s because as a business grows you physically cannot do everything as there is only 180-200 hours of time available each month and this gets used up real quick. I’m sure you know this all too well.
So how are other businesses more scalable you might ask? I’ll give you a few examples:
By having an online presence, customers can find your business through places like social media, Google, other websites that endorse you etc. You can use paid advertising to target a specific type of person or use SEO to rank higher in Google when someone types in a phrase like: graphic designer north sydney. This type of marketing ticks away in the background and in most cases you’ll have either an external marketing consultant helping you out or if you are a little bigger you might have an internal marketing coordinator running the show.
Online Sales Funnel
So customers can now find you online because let’s be honest, we Google everyone. They check out your website and from there they can make a purchase or an enquiry. So let’s say you’ve got a shopping cart setup, you have now created a very scalable sales system. Customers can find you online and buy something without it taking any of your time at all.
Using a tool like GoToWebinar you can run a webinar where people can login from anywhere in the world for your presentation. This could be for marketing your business, selling a product or service, delivering your product or service or perhaps even educating or nurturing your clients. The power is that it is a one to many model. Meaning when you present you are speaking to many people at the same time as opposed to doing one on one sessions. This is very scalable and opposed to a live event that is still one to many, you can run a webinar from anywhere simply by opening your laptop.
Using email automation tools like Ontraport for all the bells and whistles or MailChimp for the bare minimum, you can email everyone on your list of emails in the one go. This allows you to easily and regularly stay in contact with everyone, make offers, invite them to webinars, send them reminders, endorse a product or service etc. as opposed to sending emails one by one. This is obviously scalable and a no brainer.
So there a few examples of ways to scale your sales and marketing but what about delivery. This is doing the actual work, so say for a hairdresser that would be actually cutting hair, that is the delivery. One example is a digital product, so customers are buying an online video course, or access to an online forum or community or they download an ebook or information product.
These are all highly scalable because you shoot the video once and then customers can buy it over and over again online. So if one person buys or 10,000 people buy it doesn’t matter, they can all access it and watch the video course.
Another example of scalable delivery may be something called the ‘middle man’ business model. Think of it like a furniture store. They don’t make the furniture, they buy it at wholesale rates from the manufacturer and sell it too the public with a mark up. They are the middle man.
Many internet markets, graphic designers, SEO experts just as an example can and do use the middle man concept. They can help you with all your online problems or challenges but they’ll use a supplier who has a team of experts to do the actual delivery. This is scalable because you are now not doing all of the nitty gritty work, you having a supplier do it for you. You could put these people on your payroll but it’s sometimes easier to just pay for what you need then not have to worry about all the dramas of building and inspiring a team of your own.
Don’t Get Good At The Small Things
Most business owners spend too much time doing tasks in their business that are low skill or easily outsourced. Perfect examples are administration and building websites. Let’s look at professional service businesses which are lawyers, finance brokers and financial planners to name a few. The delivery of their service involves technical prowess, an understanding of legislation and rules and problem solving. These are high skill tasks that offer a tonne of value to the client.
But there are then many low skill tasks that are still important and required to run the business. In a perfect world, let’s take a financial planner, they should specifically be meeting with the client, researching the markets and devising the investment strategy. But what happens is they naturally take on many administration tasks like managing their email, booking appointments, printing documents, checking the mail, doing bank reconciliations, sending invoices, answering the phone, preparing basic documents, writing letters etc.
Your administration team should be doing all of this. You can’t scale if your time is being used up on low skill tasks. One way to identify and delegate these tasks are to do something called the Task Transfer. You basically get a white board and write all of your team members names across the top then beneath each name your write on a sticky note each task you do. If you are unsure of absolutely everything you do then track your time very diligently for just one week and you’ll know. From here you can pick up tasks that are under your name and move them under someone else’s name. Problem solved.
Also, unless you are a website developer or a graphic designer, you have no right to do these tasks. You can find thousands of experts online using Upwork or an agency to help you out. They’ll do the job 10 times better in half the time.
Great business owners do not get distracted by the shiny objects. What I mean this that when the new interesting shiny thing comes along the business owner gets distracted and changes the course of their business. And then they get distracted again and again. They never become really good at anything and this is a lot of hard work.
You need to keep improving and innovating in your business, which can include a major pivot, but chasing after the latest and greatest is like chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You can keep running to the end of the rainbow but you’ll never get there.
Stay true to your business, lead and inspire your team, nurture your clients, only work on the high value jobs, become more scalable, remember to delegate and engage with an advisor to monitor your goals and keep you accountable.
Systemise, Systemise, Systemise
A business in my view is: someone has a problem or challenge and you have a product or service that solves it. A business is made up of many tasks that are repeated over and over from the day to day running to marketing to sales to delivery to accounting.
Anything that is repeated more than once can be systemised. This could be as simple as the steps to do a task like prepare a standard letter template, or an appointment setting process, or a checklist of documents a client needs to send in. I could keep going on but when you start to look at your business as a number of tasks repeated over and over then you’ll see the opportunity to create, checklists and processes.
These are super important because they provide structure and reduce errors. It is simple to teach a new team member their tasks because they have a manual and checklist to follow. A more modern version could be recording your computer screen and speaking into the microphone, dictating what you are doing and why.
This makes your business attractive if you are looking at selling as a systemise business shows structure. You have taken your proprietary systems and processes out of your head and onto paper (so to speak). You have now packaged up your intellectual property into a product which adds tremendous value to the valuation of a business. Check out The Checklist Manifesto.
What I want you to do is review your business and how these above strategies compare. Decide which one will provide the biggest leverage to improve your business and execute it. If we only focussed more on execution in our business we’d have more time and more profits. Let me know how you go or if you’d like some help.
[Shout-out to James Schramko at Superfastbusiness.com for using some clever terms he coined]