Ever feel as if your work days are just getting busier yet no matter how much you do your business won’t grow at the speed you want?
Maybe you’re bringing in decent, consistent money month-on-month but you’ve hit a revenue plateau you just can’t break through.
If you’ve reached this invisible barrier as a business owner, it’s essential to realise that while hard work is important, what’s more crucial to smash through the 6-figure slump is smart work.
It was Einstein who said: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”.
Now, I’m not trying to offend anyone right now by calling you ‘insane’, but what I am trying to make you realise is that simply putting more hours into doing the wrong thing is not going to get you to where you want to be in business in the next 12 months.
How you grew your business from $0 to $200k revenue is not the way to grow your business from $200k to $1 million.
Surprisingly the pitfalls entrepreneurs fall into at this stage of business that prevent them from building multi-million dollar businesses are surprisingly universal.
So today I wanted to share the 6 key mistakes 6-figure business owners make with you so you’re equipped to determine your 2019 strategy and enable exponential growth.
Number #1 – Not spending enough time on sales and marketing activities.
This principle seems so obvious that it's almost painful to put it first, but it’s surprising how little time many CEOs put into sales- and marketing-led activity.
Just because you made $500k+ last year it doesn’t give you permission to step out of the driver’s seat now. Essentially all growth is sales and marketing led – even if you have the best product in the world.
Let’s take Facebook for an example, who had a very distinct marketing strategy in their startup days. If Zuckerberg had started trying to create a global brand with everybody from your daughter to your grandma on the channel, we wouldn't know who Facebook are today.
Instead they started by saturating one university, Harvard, moved on to saturate Stanford, and then continued to spread at a grassroots level until university students could not wait to get access.
In the early days, if Facebook had relied solely on great engineering and building out the technology without actually focusing their attention on getting people signed up to the platform, we might be living in a very different world.
Number #2 – Imperfect product-to-market fit
You need to ensure that the product or service you're offering meets a genuine consumer demand. Ask yourself: is there an addressable market that is hungry and has a propensity to pay for what I’m offering?
Product-to-market fit red flags include inefficient marketing, long tail sales cycles, few referrals generated, low word-of-mouth and, obviously poor customer feedback or complaints.
It’s important to remember that even if you are bringing in revenue, this does not automatically mean you have found the perfect product-to-market fit.
In fact, I’ve seen on many occasions businesses that were able to drive a decent level of success through pure marketing and sales grunt work, despite the lack of fit.
This was their undoing though when it came time to scale revenue generating operations as their wasn’t a true fit and the cracks began to widen.
Right now you could be sitting at around a 6 out of 10, but imagine if you could increase that to a 9 out of 10? Your business would become a lot more financially scalable.
Mistake #3 – The CEO is doing everything
I get it, in the beginning it’s absolutely necessary for the CEO to be doing everything as generally you can’t afford to bring in external resources.
However, as your business grows you need to shift from the mindset of: “How can I make this happen?” to “Who can make this happen?” or you’ll become the glass ceiling to your businesses growth.
This might mean hiring a leadership team, outsourcing components of your workload offshore, or bringing on board agencies or freelancers to take over certain elements of your day-to-day.
Remember, you can do anything but you can’t do everything.
You can read more about how to step out of the day-to-day as a CEO in my blog, How to 10X Your Business by Building an Effective Leadership Team.
Mistake #4 – Thinking too small
Let’s say this year you made $600k. The ‘logical’ step would be to aim for 20% growth next year.
While incremental growth strategies work for large public, multi-billion dollar organisations, adopting this mindset will suffocate your business.
Instead, if you're doing six-figures right, you should be thinking, “How can I 10X my business in the next 10 months?”
What would you need to do? Who would you need to become? What are the partnerships you'd need to create? Who are the people you need to be surrounding yourself with? Who are the key mentors you need to tap into?
You might not 10x your business, but if just thinking through this exercise you get to 4x, then it's a still a very worthwhile exercise.
Remember, think exponential growth, not incremental growth.
Mistake #5 – Lack of in-depth commercial mentoring for the Founder and CEO
Generally speaking, when we're in the seed stage and startup stage, and you start to bring on people you can afford, there’s a real sense of camaraderie and family.
So the problem here is the fact that at any given moment you’re likely the smartest person in the room in terms of commercial awareness.
However in business, you often don’t know what you don’t know, so it’s your responsibility to go outside the four walls of your business and find people who are smarter than you.
If you're trying to get to seven-figures, start getting mentored by people who've built seven-figure businesses. If you're trying to get to eight figures, start getting mentored and just having coffee and sushi with business owners and entrepreneurs who have built eight-figure businesses.
There is a concept in finance called OPM – Other People's Money. You borrow other people's money, you invest it, you make back money, you pay them some interest, and you get the profit.
I'll introduce you to a more impactful concept, OPT – Other People's Time.
Go find a seven-figure or eight-figure business owner, come speak to us at The Entourage, whatever it is, find people with been there, done that experience and leverage their time.
They might have taken 10 years or 20 years to figure out how to get to where they are in business, but sometimes just a regular coffee catch-up could shave months or years from your own growth path.
Mistake #6 – Waiting for perfection
In business nothing will ever be perfect, and you’ll never have all the answers.
But to succeed you need to get comfortable with moving forward imperfectly. You’ll need to make decisions and make progress in the absence of the ideal amount of information and resources.
Believe me, if you wait for the ‘perfect moments’ to grow your business you will be waiting for a very long time.