So you want to scale your business but you’re not sure where to start? Some businesses choose to focus on scaling because they see some incredible possibilities. Others implement some aspects because they want to relieve some current pain. Companies that are scaling rapidly are making decisions about
- cash (accelerating the inflow of it to fuel growth),
- people (getting the right people in the right seats),
- strategy (exploiting competitive advantages, focusing), and
- execution (speeding up communication, strengthening culture and accountability.)
You might not feel ready for all of that right now – it might seem overwhelming. Even in high performing businesses, full implementation of Gazelles’ Four Decisions (The Rockefeller Habits) can take two years. But if you want future results to be better than past ones, full integration doesn’t concern you at the moment. Start where it hurts the most. Do something.
Potential Pain Point – Cash
Is your business not generating enough to fund your growth right now? Often cash is the earliest and most visible pain point. It is also the area where you can readily measure improvement. See the change in how many days/weeks/months your current cash reserves will carry you. Your cash might be slow in coming because of a sluggish sales cycle. It might be tied up in your production process, or in warranty and rework. Your money might literally be taking up space in the form of inventory, where you can’t reach it. Perhaps your billing process is slow, or collections on receivables are not yielding prompt pay from customers.
You can make incremental improvements in your cash position by looking at the individual stages of your sell-make-ship-bill processes to shave time or steps. You might be able to prevent errors to reduce delays. OR – you might be able to rethink your entire business model with cash acceleration in mind. Were you aware that Costco fueled the large business it is today by its decision to start charging membership fees?
Potential Pain Point – People
You may not have the right people, and they might not be in the right seats. Moreover, you might be living with (and chewing up time with) ongoing performance problems. The behavior you tolerate becomes the standard, so if you have C players in your business you are putting an automatic keeper on your ability to grow. In addition, A players don’t like to hang out with C players. That means if you don’t do something your best people will leave for a better opportunity.
You can start now by evaluating your direct reports according to two criteria – how well they are aligned with company core values, and how productive they are in their jobs. Have each level of management do the same thing, so you can determine where the first moves need to be made across the company. Then you can start to become more intentional about hiring for values alignment. You can train for skills, but you can’t successfully train for attitudes and habits.
Potential Pain Point – Strategy
As a Gazelles Scaling Up coach, if all things are equal I’d recommend starting here – with strategy. The foundation of the business (purpose, BHAG or big hairy audacious goal, core values) is created during this process. How can you put together a puzzle when you don’t know what the picture on the box looks like? Hiring decisions, other investments, marketing, and countless other decisions link back to strategy. If you are not growing, it’s a strong possibility that your strategy needs some attention.
Our approach to strategy is to get started by “gutting it out” through a first cut of a one page plan. The plan has the core of purpose, values, 3 year, one year, and quarterly targets. You don’t have to have it all perfect before you take action to implement it. Then on a quarterly basis your planning team goes back to the plan to refine the bigger picture core (purpose, values, etc.) and update the shorter term initiatives.
Potential Pain Point – Execution
Is your business feeling pain from lack of accountability? Are more goals being set than are being attained? The best first step in getting better at execution is to speed up the communication and synchronization by implementing 10-15 minute daily huddles. This includes the senior team all the way through to the front lines. Huddles enable you to identify problems early and to capture quickly emerging opportunities. They are not the place to solve problems – only to identify the ones that need to be handled.
A second starting step in execution is to make sure that you and everyone else has key performance indicators (KPIs) established that help to focus work efforts and inform you when you are making progress toward your plan. Some examples are $ backlog, customer NPS (net promoter) score, employee turnover rate, sales conversion rate, cost per lead, gross margin, etc. Choose your KPIs to align with your company’s quarterly and annual priorities. Best-selling author Bernard Marr has a list of 75 KPIs on LinkedIn. Click HERE to go to the article.
If you would like more information on Scaling Up and the Four Decisions, check out this video . And if you would like to talk through the specifics of your situation, email [email protected] and we will be happy to discuss them with you with no obligation.