The difference between a small business or startup and a successful and profitable company boils down to time and experience. But, there are particular factors that play a big role in how those companies grew to be successful — things like timing, having the right people, focus, and intensely hard work.
Remember that every major company was a start up at some point. Every Fortune 500 firm started as an idea that was brought to life and guided by an entrepreneur.
Even though statistics, researchers, and the media tell you that the odds are stacked against you and the probability of failing is high, there is still an opportunity to succeed. One of the best ways to protect yourself against impending hard times and tough decisions is to reference successful entrepreneurs and CEOs who have already blazed those trails.
They’ve learned the hard lessons and are willing to share knowledge that you can apply to fuel sustainable growth. Here are a few insights from entrepreneurs who beat the odds and successfully scaled their businesses.
1.Keep it Simple
Successful business leaders are often so because they learn how to be proficient at simplifying processes. They take the complex and make it less complex. This philosophy and approach to business is used in everything from product launches to developing workflows.
Part of the success of Apple under the watch of Steve Jobs was born from his ability to remove things that were overly complicated. He was notorious for canceling projects he viewed as extraneous. Complexity is a time sucker. It requires more meetings, more explanation, more detailed communication with the customer, more people in the workflow, and more cogs in the machine. Complexity slows business down and inhibits growth.
Leaders of growing companies need to be cognizant of the impacts of complexity, and take actions to continuously simplify the operations and strategy of the organization. It is important to have a clear and well-communicated vision of your business goals, a keen ability to lead employees towards that vision, and the willingness to change course when it becomes evident that certain strategies are not providing intended results.
2. Stay Tuned to Your Business
As your business grows, one of your goals should be hiring smart, talented people to handle various tasks. As a business owner, you can’t possibly be involved in everything, so it’s important to delegate and let other, well-suited people handle the work.
But that doesn’t mean you should step back and tune out. Just because someone else is handling it, does not mean you should not be involved.
When you stay tuned into your business and are aware of your surroundings, you’ll better anticipate the need for change and adjustment and be able to quickly pivot and adapt when the time comes.
Remember, growth is not a perfectly straight line to the top - it’s more like scaling a cliff. It’s a slow, steady, strategic climb, and you need to be aware of every handhold, foothold, and loose stone in order to make it to the summit.
3. There Are No Shortcuts in Scaling
As your business begins to grow, you may be tempted to cut some corners and take shortcuts to reach your next goal faster. There is no surefire way to impede your business than to take shortcuts and try to take the quick and easy road to success. Every single action you take now will have consequences later on.
When you take shortcuts, you make compromises. You compromise your ethics, your values, and the integrity of your business — often at the expense of the customer and your employees.
4. It’s Okay to Ask for Help
Too often, business owners view asking for help as a sign of weakness. They think that asking for help means they are exposing themselves to predators, waiting patiently in the shadows for the chance to take them down.
The most successful entrepreneurs didn’t become effective leaders because they were good at bossing people around or because they had all of the answers all of the time. The greatest leaders achieved success because they had a vision. They inspired people to help them get there, and they knew to ask for help in order to turn their visions into reality.
You’d be amazed at how many people within your network will come to your aid and give their all to help you succeed. It’s okay if you don’t know how to do something on your own. As an entrepreneur, no one expects you to have all of the answers and all of the skills all of the time.
5. Learn to Say No
Business owners spend a lot of time chasing growth. So when opportunities are presented to us in a compelling way with the potential for great success, it can be hard to turn them down.
Along the same lines, you may be inclined to experiment with ideas thrown your way in an effort to see what sticks and contributes to growth. It’s important to remember that not every idea that lands on your desk is a great one.
Saying ‘no’ to great ideas is necessary to get to the brilliant ones. At every step of the way, you have to head towards one path. The reality is, you only have so many resources. If you don’t learn to say no, you’ll be wrapped up in trying to deploy too many things.
At best, everything moves far too slowly because you’re overextended. Too few resources spread across too many projects is not scalable. With this scenario nothing gets done and growth comes to a grinding halt.
Best of luck growing and scaling your business model!