To Grow.. Your Only Focus In Business Must Be – To Build Engines!
Having worked with more than a hundred business owners one-on-one, as their professional business coach I realised quickly that owners of small to medium sized businesses are super focused on building revenue and profits. There’s no doubt about it’s importance and they work over 50 hrs/week trying to achieve the money targets.
As an experienced and globally trained professional in my field, I educate my clients that accelerating growth and scaling up businesses is much to do with shifting the mind-set of the business owner FIRST rather than getting them to adopt the “latest fad in strategies”.
I’m talking about creating the mind-set for “building engines” in your business.
Let me explain the terminology of what I mean by that.
So, I’m not saying don’t focus on building business processes, templates or teams. I’m saying develop well oiled “engines” that hum in co-ordination.
The first twenty years of my career were spent in big corporates. I followed my nose through sales and ended up as the star performer almost every year. I then led delivery teams and created successful turnarounds with each project I was leading.
Having learnt and experienced a lot, I made the crossover to Business Coaching for small to mid-sized businesses .. When I say small, I mean the company’s been there for about 5 years and has crossed 1 Million in turnover as a minimum.
So when I started engaging & asking deep dive questions to business owners, I found out, I was asking what I thought were very straightforward questions, like: “What’s the marketing strategy?” They’d go, “What’s one of those?”
I’d say, “Who’s your ideal customer?” They’d say, “Well, anybody who’ll spend money with us”.
“Where’s your prospect data?”… “You see that big pile of forms and diaries in the corner?
“Do you have metrics and dashboards to track every department & receive regular MIS from your team?”… “Yes, every lead informs us what activities have been done in the week”
I suddenly realised that, actually, most small businesses don’t know how to create an engine to build scale and growth.
In my client businesses, I couldn’t use the same strategies that I’d used when I was in a big corporate, because they didn’t have the weight of a very big brand behind them – Also, they didn’t have a long runway of cashflow.
I call it an engine because I realised that at the big corporates I had been part of an existing engine, one based on four key integrated principles: strategy, team, tools and tactics.
When you combine those four things together, that’s when you can really start to accelerate your performance.
There are a lot of people doing ‘sales consultancy’, ‘growth consultancy’, ‘marketing consultancy’ or ‘finance consultancy’ and there are a lot of small businesses spending a lot of money trying to solve their problems.
This mistake is usually down to one of three things, which I see time and time again.
- The FIRST is that the business owners goes out and hires really expensive Department Head/s who they think can implement the change and be that superman who will change the world for them., but unless they come from a background where they’ve taken a business through a scale-up and are capable of quickly adapting to your internal company culture, you should expect it still to be an uphill task. If you don’t have the strategy, the infrastructure, the processes, the leadership and the foundations in place to create and scale, again, they’ll be lost, and they’ll underperform.
- The SECOND mistake owners often make is they aren’t always willing to roll up their sleeves and get down to details with their teams – handholding them, coaching them, nurturing them patiently like a gardener. Setting each one up for success and focusing on creating a culture of extreme teamwork. When the owner isn’t involved in details (atleast till the time the team is ready) politics takes over at the workplace and people start to deliver below the line. The call that I often get is, ‘Tabish, I’ve already got a team, but they’re rubbish, can you come and train them?’ The answer is, ‘Yes but that’s not the only thing that we do’. We have to fix the fundamentals first before we work out what training they need, because not all staff are equal. I always suggest they get coached first themselves.
- The THIRD mistake is that they try to fix the problem by implementing a massive bit of technology, so I get a call saying, ‘We’ve just spent ₹5,00,000/- or more on ERP and CRM implementation but it’s added more complication to what was already a complicated process’, and I go, ‘Well, have you streamlined, tested & measured and mapped your processes first?’ They go, ‘Uh,’ and I go, ‘Right, that’s where we need to start, we have to backtrack’.
The role of the leader i.e. the owner is key in implementing the “Engine” model to grow each interconnected functional team depending on the size of the company when they’re at this point.
Each functional will require clear goals to achieve, measure metrics which tell them if they are moving towards those goals, a definitive process which is repeatable with minimal intervention and that gets consistent results on an on-going basis. Not to forget setting up the rules of the game for each team and then allow it to build culture on its own.
Most business owners have to wear the MD’s hat and they might have a finance director hat, ops director hat and very often, they are also the sales director at this stage. Therefore – and this is where the heroic leader problem comes in – they’ve basically built the engine, as it stands, around them. They don’t know how to disseminate that in order to remove themselves from that part of the process.
They build a system where, basically, all the key client relationships and key decision making goes through them.
They are involved in so many touchpoints of the customer journey, and their relationships are so valuable to the business that they think it’s impossible to remove themselves. There can also be some ego stuff in there like: ‘nobody can do it better than me’, ‘nobody knows the client base better than me’, ‘nobody knows the benefits better than me’. So basically they’re the God in the business!.
Of course, I get asked “So how would you suggest we go about building this engine?”
Well, being a professional in the space and a certified ActionCOACH business coach, I always recommend our globally tried and tested 6 Steps Framework of building Mastery, Niche, Leverage, Team, Synergy and Results (Join our FREE Business Growth Masterclass to learn more on this).
If we need to build scale, we also need to get the owner to want to climb the Entrepreneurial ladder faster. If this passion exists only then the scale up engines start to come alive.
The tips we share are a small part of what we do at our coaching sessions.
If you’d like to take the whole framework and install in your business, then do drop an email at [email protected] with subject line as “Scale Session” and we’ll reach out to you with all the details quickly.