I built an empire from scratch—here’s how to avoid the mistakes that plague start-ups.
So many entrepreneurs are unable to get the traction they need to grow. As someone who’s scaled multiple 8-figure companies and salvaged dozens of others, I’m often asked about how to scale and go big. Here’s my advice.
Every thriving company in my investment portfolio is the result of a series of small adjustments that make the difference between bankrupt and billion-dollar enterprises. Businesses, and especially start-ups, are not set it and forget it. The environment surrounding your business is always changing. The economy shifts, competitors enter the market, technology evolves, employees come and go. Something is always shifting.
To scale a company with stability requires you to make hard choices and act swiftly. Look at the systems you have in place and make tweaks all the time. If something isn’t working to your advantage, don’t wait to fix it later—do it now. Be proactive instead of reactive .
It’s as simple as ABC - Always Be Consuming! Knowledge keeps your mission on track. You have to research both the problems and opportunities in your business consistently. You have to have more conversations with people and figure out how they are succeeding. Your network does indeed equal your net worth. Entrepreneurs fall into the trap of, “I’m busy running my business and don’t have time to consume more.” I say it all the time, while everyone takes off for the weekend, those of us who refuse to be average use that time to grind out success an extra minute at a time. I promise you that upgrading your education and high-ticket skills will help market-proof your business.
Profit depends on a simple formula: revenue minus expenses. If you’re new to business, you may think the only way to increase profit is to sell more or cut costs, like payroll. There are many more ways to consider it.
I can go on and on. Grab your profit and loss statement and triage the list of expenses with an eye toward turning them into a profit center. Every profit penny counts.
Great passion does not equal a great business. Over 50% of start-ups fail because they shouldn’t have been in business in the first place. Companies don’t run on passion; they run on profit. (Although I do personally try and find a balance or some harmony of both.)
If you’re looking at creating a start-up or running one already, you have to be able to honestly evaluate if it is a viable business or a glorified job. Do you have a fantastic product or service? Do you have multiple ways to attract paying customers? Are you able to double the revenue without doubling payroll expenses? Are the operating costs in line with profit potential? Do you know what your customer acquisition cost actually runs? These are just a few questions you need to evaluate the answers to and be real about your business.
My favorite line is, “Data doesn’t lie—people lie, and especially to themselves.” Many people lead with their hearts instead of the numbers and then make excuses (or claim burnout) when things don’t pan out. When you know your numbers, everything becomes crystal-clear: who your audience is and where your focus needs to be. Get good with spreadsheets and financial statements so you can properly evaluate opportunities in your business.
Here’s my hard truth: As a CEO, you don’t deserve profit until everyone around you is it taken care of first. Running a business means you are building a micro-community of employees and vendors dedicated to scaling your dream. If your business fails, your micro-community gets hurt.
Too many entrepreneurs recognize flaws in their business models but don’t like the uncomfortable actions required to solve them, such as laying off staff or overcoming their own laziness. Instead, they avoid the difficult thing until the situation blows up. So how do you become responsible? Make sure the company has longevity by learning about the tax laws and building a tax strategy, implementing data-driven solutions, managing payroll against revenue, creating a system of accountability, and continuously developing your management skills.
The hard part of being an entrepreneur is not letting your ideas and passion override tackling your day-to-day operations. The most important thing is to reward those around you for their service before taking a bonus yourself.
Supercharging your business doesn’t happen overnight, but it can be a quicker process than you think—if you’re willing to dig deep and do the hard work starting now. The only thing stopping you…is you.
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