7 Lessons Learned to Help You Accelerate Your Company Growth
I recently sat down with Todd Eberhardt, Founder of Dynasty Leadership Consulting. Todd coaches high performing CEOs that are in their first or last chapter of leadership. His coaching is founded in his own deep experience living in the shoes as a founder and CEO of fast-growing firms. Below are some of the key lessons learned during his own years in the seat.
Lesson #1 - Don’t Wait too Long to Delegate
To be a growth leader you need to be able to delegate. You may be good at something and it may be a passion of yours, but you need to delegate to leave room for you to focus on bigger responsibilities. If Mark Zuckerberg was still doing all the coding for Facebook, it might not be out of the Harvard dorms yet.
Knowing when it's time to delegate is a result of a painful inflection. For example, you get that call from a customer that you think is wonderful and you have always enjoyed doing business with them but now they are not happy because they are not getting enough attention.
When to delegate is typically not rational, rather, it is often emotional trigger. Some people act on that trigger and begin to delegate, where others just put away the emotion and work even harder.
Any insight regarding how to effectively delegate?
Often during early leadership, we believe we must be the smartest, the best, and handle everything ourselves. This can be debilitating. I was lucky enough to have great mentors along the way that helped me learn some great processes that helped me through how to delegate. Start by asking yourself, what does someone that could do at least 80% of what I do look like? What am I going to measure them by?
Once you’ve answered those questions, set about finding that individual, give them as clear a set of expectations as possible, check for understanding, follow up with them frequently, and adjust where necessary.
Once I set those processes in motion, we started to grow by quantum leaps.
Lesson #2 – Hire Complimentary Talent
I kept hiring people exactly like me and it was a mistake. There are many different and complimentary talents required to fill gaps in an organization.
I had to start to look closer at what we needed to have done to really grow. Also, do we need a leader that can help us grow, or am I looking for a good follower? I think in any team you need a little bit of both.
When you are a $5M company certain skillsets are important. But, as the company grows, what's needed to get to the next level changes.
Lesson #3 – Refresh Your Target Clients as you Grow
We tend to think we know who our best customers are, but this can be a huge blind spot. It is common for people on a team to see your best customer characteristics differently.
All of us need to be specific in our description of the best customer, so everyone is on the same page.
Once clear, regularly refresh and re-check this description based on your growth. As you grow you may have more to offer, or have to direct resources differently, which changes the description of the best customer.
Lesson #4 – Understand Your Customer’s Timing Triggers
Timing triggers are simply defined as the answer to - what is different in your future customer’s world today - than it was yesterday - that has them picking up the phone to call you?
For example, your prospect has had a contract on their desk for 3 months. But, today, they decide to call you. What happened that made them take action today? The answer to that question is a timing trigger. It could be a deadline, an event that occurred or reoccurs, a time of year, etc.
There are all sorts of things that trigger customer or prospect timing – timing triggers like the above, emotional or motivational triggers, and even psychographic triggers (we just get each other!).
If you get clear on who and what your best customers are, what their various triggers are it is transformational. Client satisfaction improves, employee happiness increases, and the business grows.
When we understand the timing or rhythm of what our customers go through, we can make huge leaps.
Lesson #5 – Push Yourself to Dream Big
The best growth companies, entrepreneurs and leaders out there dream big and have bigger aspirations. They don’t think in terms of 5 or 10% growth increments. They push past the point of comfort. They ask questions such as, how big can we get? How big of an impact could we make? What could we become?
While it isn’t for every leader, this process of pushing and allowing yourself to think big can lead to finding new ways of doing business, new clients they haven’t tapped into before, and the business getting into something that the business hasn’t considered before.
Lesson #6 – Know Who You are Willing to Take Advice From
Through thousands of conversations I figured out who I am willing to take advice from. I have three very simple criteria:
- Have they reached a spot that I would like to be at?
- Do I respect what they have done professionally?
- Are they ok with sharing where they have fallen short or the mistakes they have made?
I believe we can learn a lot quite a bit from our mistakes.
Lesson #7 – It’s Hard to be the Critic and the Creator
When you start or run a business, especially early on, you are often the person out front with the big ideas or the passion for the business. We have creative ideas and want to be a part of all of those conversations.
The problem we get into is, it can be difficult to challenge, or be critical of our own thinking. It’s difficult for us to make sure all voices are heard, and all ideas are flushed out, because intuitively we believe all of our ideas are best.
I’ve found that the best companies – the one’s that grow the most, the fastest – and for sure the public companies – all have an intentional separation between creator and critique. The separation between the ones generating all the ideas and the neutral, third-party that can objectively help manage the process and ensure good, smart critical thinking take place.
Todd Eberhardt is the founder and owner of Dynasty Leadership Consulting. You can find out more about Dynasty Leadership Consulting’s work at www.dynastylc.com.
Kurt Theriault is the President of Allied Executives. Allied Executives provides business owners with confidential, "right-fit" peer groups and educational workshops so they can learn from each other, make better decisions, avoid costly mistakes, productively network, and shorten the time frame to growing their business. To learn more visit www.alliedexecutives.com
Lessons Learned Along the Way is a short video series that features real experts with practical street-smart guidance and advice for business owners all with the idea to shorten their timeframe to success.