I’ve been on the leadership team of my fair share of businesses. And, as a Certified EOS Implementer, I’ve worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs to expand their businesses. Usually, these folks come to me and say something like, “I need help running my business. It feels like it’s running me sometimes.”
What’s worse is they feel like they’re alone in that struggle.
Here’s the good news. They weren’t alone and neither are you. Nearly every entrepreneur struggles with these problems, and there is almost always a simple solution.
1: Cash Flow / Getting Blindsided
When you’re a kid, you expect wonder and surprises around every corner. Everything is new and exciting, and you live for the next surprise.
When you’re an entrepreneur, nothing sucks harder than getting surprised. When you get caught off guard, it’s almost always a disaster, one that everyone looks to you to handle. That’s doubly so when you’re getting surprised by cash flow issues.
How To Fix It
You need to move from reactive to predictive data. Most people start by measuring what has already happened, things like Profit And Loss (PNL) statements. Sure, these are important. But, they don’t really help you in the here and now. If you’ve already lost the money, you can’t do much about it.
When you use predictive data, you look at what you are doing today and predict how that will impact the future. I recommend using a company or even personal Scorecard™. This is a tool that helps you organize and understand what things you need to do today to keep up your cash flow next quarter. It’s a great predictive tool that does a wonderful job of sending up red flags way in advance, so you don’t get surprised.
2: People Problems
If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you started the business either alone or with a small group of trusted partners. As you grew you and those partners took on additional responsibilities. You started handling things that maybe weren’t exactly your cup of tea. And, as your needs grew, you hired a few folks to help you with running your business.
Now, you’ve got a team that just doesn’t make sense. People who aren’t really built to be customer facing are handling the sales while you’re stuck running the day to day operations instead of designing the product. Worse yet, a few people on your team just feel like a bad fit.
You have people problems.
How To Fix It:
You need to get the right people in the right seats. That’s something you may or may not have heard or read before. But, what does it mean.
Right people means building a team of folks that fit together as a unit. They share the same core values and are working towards the same vision. You get these by establishing solid core values. Then, you hire, fire, punish, and reward using these core values. They’re a litmus test for who belongs and who doesn’t.
Right seats means you have a team that is properly organized. Every task that needs doing falls perfectly under one person (and only one). And, job has exactly the right person doing it, not just whoever was sitting around when you were playing musical management chairs.
Getting this done isn’t easy, though. I suggest using the Entrepreneurial Operating System’s Accountability Chart™. This is a method for organizing your business around responsibilities and not reporting. It’s immensely more effective than old-school org charts.
3: Can’t Scale
You’ve got a great product and a great team. But, every time you attempt to build out into a new region, you get smacked right back down. Or even worse, you lose market share in your original location or with your original product.
How To Fix It:
The key to scaling is the same for nearly every business in every market of every industry in the world: Process.
If you want to scale, you need to be able to predict and measure every little thing that happens. You need to know how many, how much, how long, how far, how often. Without that information you can’t predict how your business will behave, and you’ll be much less able to control it the further it spreads from you.
To get ready to scale you need to design processes that are streamlined and efficient for everything your company does. And, and this is the kicker, you need to make sure everyone follows them. And, I mean everyone. Running your business correctly requires processes be non-negotiable.
4: Lack Of Growth
Lots of companies struggle with lack of growth for lots of reasons. Projects don’t get finished. You feel like you’ve got 10 balls on the 5 yard line. It’s just a constant struggle to make meaningful progress. When you get like this, you stagnate. And in entrepreneurship, stagnation is death.
How To Fix It:
Your company needs a Vision, and they need to stay focused on it. Take the time to work with your people to build a 10-year-target, or where you want to be in 10 years. Then, break it down into 3 years, 1 year, and some quarterly goals that get you to that 10-year-target.
Here’s the hard part: hold yourself and your team accountable for achieving those quarterly goals. Don’t tolerate failure from anyone (yourself included). That means you’re going to have to let other things slide, because you’ve prioritized growth. It means ignoring the shiny stuff that keeps distracting you.
But, do this and you’ll start moving some of those balls across the goal line.
5: Just Plain Overworked
Sometimes it feels like you’re at the edge. When it gets like this, take a Clarity Break™. Just spend 10 minutes away from your business, off site. Sit down and think. Think about your business. I don’t mean think about all the things you should be doing. That’s working in your business. I want you to work on your business.
Think about the larger goals you have, about how the business is running. Is that working for you? Do you need outside help? Or, do you need to make fundamental changes?
This 10 minutes can save you hours upon hours of stress. It’s worth it.
Meet the Founder
Jeff Whittle founded and launched Whittle & Partners in 2011. Before that, Jeff practiced law in Dallas for 15 years and has an additional 20 years of executive business experience. He has run businesses ranging from startups to 300-employee operations.