Escape the 96%: Transform Your Business into a £1m Powerhouse – #0032

From the 5.5m private businesses in the UK, only 4% will ever hit the £1m mark. So, that tells me, 96% of business that don’t hit this milestone fall into 2 camps. Those that are happy to stay smaller (and that’s cool), and then those that strive to get to 7 figures and for whatever reason can’t. This week’s post is for those of you in the 2nd group.

As it’s Friday and we are half way through the last dark month of the year (here in the UK), I thought I would hit you with some extra value this week, so lots packed into the slightly longer than usual blog. Let’s get it.

1. Nail your hiring

Depending on the nature of your business, you can get to 6 figures on your own with a few outsourced partners. To get to 7 and beyond, you will need the assistance of other people. As a recruiter, I am biased, but hiring is always my number 1 priority to get right. Decide on the personal attributes you are looking for, hire on those. Everything else can be taught. Experience and qualification (outside of the medical field and things like architecture) are vastly overrated.

You will make mistakes. We have recruited almost 10,000+ people for our clients, and then 200+ people internally, and I still get it wrong. You just need to have a robust probation period in place, I would always recommend 6 months. Use that process as a proper assessment of whether the individual is capable, coachable and possess the personal attributes and core values you are looking for from a team member.

2. Culture: Use of language

Once you have hired the right people, the next task is to retain them. Our team retention rate is 92% annually. We have people walk into our business and ask how we have created such a culture. In short, there’s no silver bullet. One of the most important blocks of culture is the use of language.

I never refer to our people as “staff”, they are team members. Staff gives me connotations of Victorian times. Those from a lower class that lived and worked in the basement of large family houses, serving the more affluent family members. It gives totally the wrong vibe for a collaborative working environment. Our people are team members, we work together towards a common goal, a single mission. We have different roles, but none more important than the other.

No one “works for me”, our people work for the company, they work for their families and ultimately, we “work together”. How you describe someone, and their role has an impact on their identity and how they feel they can contribute to ideas and solutions, rather than simply serving the Founder. You need to lead the action, be the first, and live the values you wish to see in others.

3. Sticking with your strategy

A lot of people try and overcomplicate business. In its rawest form, it can be a very simple process. You can scale to £1m and beyond with a simple model. You need to understand it takes time to gain traction even in a market where you are an expert. If you have changed course every 6 months and have a 5-year-old business. Have you been in business for 5 years, or do you have history of 10 companies that effectively died on month 6? Back yourself, your original strategy probably isn’t too far from the path you need to be on. Always look to improve, always look to tweak and systemise the bottle necks, completely changing course will mean starting again and will result in staying small for longer. I would outsource absolutely everything that isn’t your core skill or function on the way to 7 figures, as you approach 8, for us it made sense to start to bring these functions back in house, once a solid base has been built.

4. Crystal clear vision, a compelling mission

You need to formulate a big “why”. Why does the business exist, what is it going to achieve, by when, and how will it be done. Every 6 months, our leadership team meets to review our company vision and ensure the objectives we set from this vision for the next 2 quarters are aligned with our long-term goals.

Repeat Yourself!

The CEO should change their title to CRO, Chief Repetition Officer. This vision needs to be repeated in everyway as often as it can be. It needs to be communicated and received using the different senses of the team multiple times a week. On email and the wall for those that read, talked about in meetings and even in the lift for those where audible communication resonates more. As a Founder you need to evangelise where you are going as a team, specifics are key. This really helps with retention and to help people see their role as a career, a long-term shared project, rather than just a job.

You also need to be aware of the personal goals of your team. Expecting your team to know the objectives and mission of the business when you don’t know the basic life ambition of your team isn’t going to get the long term, two way buy in you are looking for. I know who in my team wants to buy a house, who wants to get married, and who wants to go on holiday and where. I ensure in return for their hard work towards the business mission, the business does all it can to help them on the way to their personal goals too.

5. Processes

Revenue of £1m is a result of creating a machine that operates independently of the Founder. The Founder’s input daily, although not required, is there to give the machine a huge boost, a supercharged “power up”. To achieve this, you need to systemise and process everything. The earlier you can do this, the better.

The sooner you can process, the quicker it gets engrained into the culture of the business. What’s harder than brining in a process for credit control when the company is only 2 people? Bringing in a process for credit control at 30, or 40 or 100. Changing to a new way of doing something is always harder than implementing it early. With each way you do something or every piece of software you are considering, you need to ask yourself, “will this get us to £1m?”.

It Will Do For Now

The “it will do for now” approach is the dream killer of small businesses. If it’s ok for now, it will be ok for 3 years’ time. Before you know it, your back office, your promotion procedures, and your annual reviews are all cobbled together “for now” cultivating a slapdash environment that soon becomes the norm. There’s never a good time to systemise that bottleneck.

And finally, and probably most importantly. The way to get to 7 figures more quickly than your competition, is to aim for £5m, not £1m. By thinking bigger, far bigger, you will hit the £1m mark far more quickly when you cast a vision to yourself and your team way beyond the 7 figures. You can see £1m as the end goal, or just the beginning, in my experience it’s simply a choice you make. For me, even now, every day I come in, it isn’t year 12, its day one.

Hope this helps!


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