Anyone who's ever dipped their toe into the business pool will know just how tough the journey to 11 years old would be.
In fact, there's a crazy stat out there that 70% of businesses fail before they reach 10 years old.
And I know that stat very well. As Australia's leading trainer and community for entrepreneurs and business owners, I have a lot of experience with the challenges that come with running all the sorts of businesses that have come through as Members. But through 11 years of training, guiding, and mentoring this community, I also have a lot of buckets of experience with how to overcome these challenges.
That's why the team asked me to share what my top lessons are from my years in building business. These are my core 11 principles on how anyone can build an 8-figure business, just like us, that is scalable, sustainable and can grow beyond you.
What your business requires from $0-$100K in revenue is slightly different from what it requires from $100K-$1M and that is different from what it requires from $1M-$10M and again, significantly different from what it requires from $10M-$100M.
When you're just starting out, at the Seed stage, you'll be interacting with customers, going to market, pivoting a lot, and making it up a bit as you go.
At the next stage, the Startup stage, you'll need to focus more on your marketing and sales, and driving strong growth.
And the third stage, the Scale stage, when you start reaching 7, 8 and even 9 figures, that's when you'll need to start placing more emphasis on internal operations - systems, structure, strategic planning - everything that you should not do if you are just starting out.
The #1 glass ceiling I see on businesses, especially those who have just gotten to 7 or 8 figures, is that they are still managing their business the same way as when their business was still at 6 figures.
"As a business evolves and matures, as must your management and leadership style with it."
As your business grows, it will get to a point where one day, the business is just too large for you to wrap your arms around. And by that point, it's likely that you've also stopped doing the things that you are great at in business — driving the business forward, shaping the organisation, and developing the business' vision.
If you're at this point in your business where you're just putting out daily fires, buried in the operations, I need you to think about the following paradigm every single day.
WHO, NOT HOW.
As your business grows, you need to stop thinking that the solution is what can you personally do more of? It is not your highest and best use in your business.
Start thinking, how do I best create an ecosystem that empowers and enables other people to do this, often better than what I would be able to do, on a consistent basis?
Start thinking, who can do this more passionately and more capably than I can, and how do I best engage and empower that person to do exactly that?
As an entrepreneur, in any stage of any of our businesses, we all will be wearing any number of four hats.
Right now, I want you to think about which hat you are wearing and when you want to start wearing more of the next hat. Because when you're still in technician or manager mode, you're still thinking of how, not who (Principle 10). You're still stuck in the daily fires. Start ascending up the hats and move up to leader, and then entrepreneur. That is where your highest and best use is at.
How can you ascend up this ladder? Through strategy and structure, which leads me to the next principle.
I mentioned in Principle 11 that at the Scale stage, you need to start developing your internal operations because without this, your company won't be able to grow in a sustainable way. And if you look at any other 8, 9 or even 10 figure business, all of them will have developed these six elements thoroughly.
"This is literally the blueprint for building a business that is scalable and sustainable."
If you want to build and grow a company to 8-figures and beyond, these are the six elements you need strategy and structure in. These are what will enable you to start wearing the entrepreneur hat again and help you continue to build a well-rounded and sustainable company.
In a business' growth journey, there will come a time where you hit a plateau, whether it be a singular point or a period. This will be because of a lack of growth in your sales and marketing firepower.
While you do need to also focus on the other elements in your business, as mentioned in Principle 8, and while you do need to have the right infrastructures in place to ensure that your business can handle the growth from marketing and sales, if you are experiencing a plateau, you need to put the emphasis back on marketing and sales.
It's about asking, how can I build out a marketing engine and sales process with the right teams to drive external growth for the company without me?
This is one of the most important factors to effectively scaling any organisation — having both of these styles of operators in your organisation, as well as knowing which one you are.
Why do you think we need both in any organisation? And why do you think it's important to identify which one you are?
80% of entrepreneurs will be Visionaries. And with uneducated visionaries, they can often give their team organisational whiplash, moving from one idea to the other without any thought to possible deadlines and resource allocation.
"You need people who are obsessed with the details today, as much as you are obsessed about the vision for tomorrow."
The other 20% who are integrators or mixed integrator, visionary, might get stuck in technician mode. Obsessed with the details, integrators need help to see the big picture and see the vision for the company instead of just focusing on the day to day operation.
If you know which style of operator you are, that's how you know who you need to start surrounding yourself with to help grow your business in a scalable and sustainable way.
If you are a visionary, you need integrators around you to help you with execution, sustainability, and actually getting things done. If you are an integrator, you actually need both around you - integrators to help you get things done and visionaries who can help you dream.
But keep in mind, the integrators around you will change as you grow. And that leads me to Principle 5.
This is a tricky one. I've been through this in my earlier stages of business and it was really hard on my team.
When you first start, you will have people who are so loyal and so dedicated to the business. Most likely, they will not be paid at market-wage either. But they stay because they love the business and its vision and mission.
But once you start growing, 80% of that team will no longer keep up. The style and nature of your business will change quickly. And if you hold onto the team members who have not left despite the changes, it will most likely bring a lot of challenge onto the team.
They're not performing. But you still keep them onboard. The rest of the team sees. They now know that all they have to do to stay on the team is be your friend, not perform. And that's a huge problem.
Your loyalty needs to lie with the team in its entirety, with the business in its entirety. It cannot lie with any one individual and that includes yourself.
Expect hard times. They will come.
If you're on a journey to build a business to a point where it's doing 8 figures, you will come up against extended periods of time where you will be so challenged and you will question yourself so much and you may even want to quit for extended periods of time, you need to understand that that is par for the course.
During those periods, all you can do is say to yourself, "It may not be fun as I persevere through this particular challenge but I will get through it."
I went through the toughest period of my life a few years ago with the business when we were on the path to suffering nearly an $80,000 loss per month. And only recently have we come back to as big as we were before.
What I did in that period was go into this subconscious way of being where I just focus on doing whatever needs to be done and then, outside of that, I try and enjoy myself as much as humanly possible.
It's one foot in front of the other, in front of the other, on a daily basis. If you don't quit, it will make you better.
Expect hard times, and when they come, lock in.
I am totally familiar with and understand and get that we don't always have the time or the opportunity or we're not in the financial position to rest right there and then.
Right around the time we were on the verge of losing nearly $80,000 a month, I was feeling extremely burnt out. But I didn't have the time to rest otherwise the business would have failed. So what did I do?
I learned how to build practices into my everyday life that enabled me to continue to get the most out of myself. This was when I really started to lean into meditation, into hot and cold immersion, into training and exercising, into eating well and minimising anything that wasn't nutritious in my diet. I literally had to take my discipline and my entire lifestyle up several notches in terms of my ability to take care of myself in order to just sustain, let alone to optimise.
But once you do get to a point where you can rest, REST. Take the time to do the things you love. Schedule it in and please, take those opportunities when they arise because as we all know as entrepreneurs, we are not the type to stop.
Practising those everyday behaviours and scheduling in rest will also help you continue on and not quit when times are tough.
Just as it is highly beneficial for you to utilise everyday practices such as meditation and exercise to optimise your health and self, you need to do that for your mental state of being too.
I know how easy it is in a heightened period of growth, extended plateau, or period of decline, to lose yourself. Business can be all-consuming. It requires lots of sacrifices. And often, our egos are highly attached to our business outcomes. When things are going great, you become arrogant. When failures and challenges arise, you become insecure and depressed.
"What's more important than the external is your inner state of being."
That's why it's incredibly important to stay connected to self - make sure you stick to your personal rituals - the ones that fill you up, whether it's time with family and friends, exercise, playing guitar, journaling, painting, whatever it is. Know what they are, and do them.
That understanding and connection to your true self will help you get to a point where you can transcend the feelings dictated by your business' growth or the market at large. Live from a place of being a whole, nurtured, compassionate and joyful human being instead.
You can. You can do this. You can build a business to any size that you choose.
If you accept that you need to be a person that is always learning, that you're going to need to change tact to find the right model, strategies, and team, that people are going to come and go, that it's going to be two steps forward, one step back, and if you accept that it's not going to be linear, you can build a business to whatever size that you choose.
You don't choose by sitting there and going I kinda sorta maybe one day want to do it and I'm going to try and manifest it. You choose what level you play at by the level of capability you consciously develop.
Everything's a skill. Building a business is a skill. Being a visionary is a skill. Leading people is a skill. Building an 8-figure business is a skill. Building a 9- or 10- figure business is a skill. It's all a skill. And over the past 11 years, that's exactly what we've been teaching for our community of over 500,000 entrepreneurs and business owners.
If you haven't yet reached that 8-figure business that's scalable and sustainable that can grow beyond you, all that tells me is that you haven't developed the capabilities yet. But if you start by embodying just these 11 principles and lessons, that's how you will begin your journey there.
As I reflect over 11 years in Entourage and 15-16 years of business, the most fundamental underlying truth to absolutely everything I could share with you is that you can. You can scale to whatever degree you choose. You can grow into any characteristic or any human that you choose to. You can.
You can do whatever you choose.
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