When you get up in the morning, what do you focus on? When you arrive at work, what do you focus on? As you’re going through your day, what do you focus on? As you look at your week, what do you focus on?
If you’re like most of the business owners and entrepreneurs I’ve met, you don’t intentionally choose what to focus on, you just do. In other words, your focus is primarily reactive, not proactive—and that’s a problem. Why?
Because whatever you focus on determines how you feel, how you use your time, how you order your day, how you perceive what’s happening to you and your company, what you pay attention to etc. Virtually everything in your life (and mine) is driven by focus.
For example, if you choose to focus on finding something wrong that someone is doing, you’ll find it. If you focus on finding something right that they’re doing, you’ll find it. If you focus on last week’s results, you’ll be stuck in the past. If you focus on opportunities that this week presents, you’ll be motivated to make sales calls.
So, if virtually everything is driven by focus, as a business owner/entrepreneur what do you think you should be focusing on in order to get the most optimal results for your business?
Well, if that question sounds interesting, here are four things I believe every business owner and/or entrepreneur ought to be focusing on every week.
I. Driving Top Line Revenue Growth
It’s amazing how many things can draw our attention away from driving top line revenue in any business. Ask three business owners what they’re working on this week and you’ll probably get answers like the following
- Redesigning our website
- Figuring out what to do with the new overtime regulations
- Solving a problem with a customer delivery or installation
- Preparing for a staff meeting
- Preparing staff performance reviews
- Working on next year’s budget
- Creating a video for the company’s Facebook page, etc.
You get the idea. Now, it’s not that any of those items are bad items. In fact, they’re all good items. The problem is that they all suck up time. They all divert attention from priority number one—which is getting more dollars walking through the front door.
Years ago, I remember someone saying something along the lines of, “The problem with most Americans is that they’re really good at doing second things first.” And that’s pretty accurate for most business owners.
Priority #1 is a revenue issue. As Mark Cuban says, “Sales solves all problems” (note: obviously an overstatement but you get the idea).
The number one thing that every business owner/entrepreneur ought to be focused on every week is how can we get more dollars walking in through the door? Everything else is secondary. Yet, how often does #1 get pushed down the ladder to the tenth item or even to an item for next week’s to do list? More often that most of us want to admit.
Since what you focus on determines virtually everything about your business, what difference do you think it would make if you chose to deliberately focus on driving top line revenue every week? My guess, a pretty big difference.
II. Increasing Bottom Line Profits
As I wrote about last week, I never cease to be amazed at how many business owners/entrepreneurs get so focused on top line revenue growth that they forget about bottom line profitability.
Yet, at the end of the day, it’s not what you bring in that really matters most, it’s what’s left over when everything else has been paid off, that really matters.
In other words, revenue and profit aren’t an either/or proposition, they’re a both/and. However, the order does matter.
If you don’t have enough dollars flowing through your business, it’s hard to make the profit figures work. However, once you do have the dollars flowing through, then it’s also about focusing on how to make sure you’re generating the right gross and net profit margins in order to make all the work you and your people do worth the effort.
Now, I won’t repeat all of the ideas I shared last week. But suffice it to say, if you want to find more financial freedom in your business, you’ll want to focus more on both driving top line revenue growth AND increasing bottom line profitability every week. It’s really not an either/or. It’s a both/and.
III. Creating Additional Capacity
This is another one of those issues that most business owners/entrepreneurs don’t pay a whole lot of time and attention to which then creates a huge problem for them and their businesses. Why? Because capacity is one of your primary limiters—and it doesn’t matter what size business you’re leading. If you’re leading a $500K/year business, you could be leading a $5M/year business … if you had the capacity to do $5M/year. If you’re a $5M/year business, you could be leading a $50M/year business, if you had the capacity for a $50M/year business (or a $5B business). It really is all about capacity.
- If you don’t have the capacity to lead a $3M/year business with 20 employees, you’ll probably never get there
- If you don’t have your entire business systematized, you’ll probably never be able to scale
- If you don’t have quick access to lots of capital, your business will probably stall out
- If you don’t have easy access to additional qualified employees quickly, you’ll probably find it difficult to handle a rapid influx of new orders.
It really is all about capacity. And when I’m talking about capacity, some it it’s your capacity. Some of it is your top team/direct reports’ capacity. Some of it’s the capacity of your people. Some of it’s the capacity of your technology. Some of it’s the capacity of your systems. Some of it’s the capacity of your finances or your ability to access additional capital, etc.
The reason this matters is because if capacity is your great limiter, what do you think the implications would be on your business if you thought about creating additional capacity before you had to? My guess, huge!
This might mean you need to find a mentor or coach (or even possibly join my coaching club). It might mean scheduling time each day to learn something new so you’re improving your weak areas every week. It might mean spending more time working on staff development or sending more of your people to conferences. it might be investing more time in building your virtual bench. it might mean changing your CRM so it can better grow with you. It might mean building better relationships with capital sources before you need them. Etc.
The options for building additional capacity are virtually limitless. But the key for you if you want to keep growing your business is to work on creating more capacity every week. Why? Because if you keep creating and building more capacity in you and your business every week, you’ll keep breaking through any built in limitations BEFORE they become a major hinderances in the future.
So if you want to build a more scalable business, you’ll want to continually be thinking about creating additional capacity before it’s required.
IV. Improving Team Performance
As a business owner/entrepreneur, one of your goals is (or should be) to create leverage. For example, it’s one of the reasons why you choose to hire people.
However, just hiring people never ensures that you’re getting the best from them.
In fact, everyone has more potential in them than they’re currently presenting which is why one of the top four things you should be focusing on every week is increasing your team’s performance. The better they perform, the more leverage you create—both in terms of their capacity to do more and their capacity to perform at a higher level.
With all things being equal, with the same team, you can either get 20 hours of value out a 40 hour work week or 55 hours of value. You can either handle a maximum of 50 clients a month or a maximum of 100 clients a month. You can either get a big project done in three months or in three weeks. It’s all about team performance.
So, what tends to hinder team performance? Believe it or not, from my experience, your willingness to push your people to be their better selves. Way too many business owners/entrepreneurs either leave their people alone hoping that they’ll do their job well (and hope is a bad strategy) or they’re afraid to push their people because they want their employees to like them. Either option is bad.
In my book, you have to care enough about your employees to be willing to be disliked or misunderstood in order to help them move closer to their full potential. I remember several years ago pushing one of my staff when he said, “Bruce enough. There’s no more of me to go around. I can’t do any more.” To which I said, “Well, that’s where you and I disagree. I happen to believe in you more than you believe in you. You have far more in you than you’re willing to unearth on your own.”
This is true of everyone (including you and me). We all have more potential than we’re either willing to or able to unearth on our own—which is why we all need someone outside of us to help push us to unearth that part of us that we’re not willing or able to get out into the world on our own.
And what is true of us as individuals, is also true of us as collections of individuals. Your team has far more potential than they’re currently presenting and they need you to unearth that potential. It will never happen on it’s own. It needs you.
Note: in case you’re curious, being a good coach who’s willing to push his/her people to be their best is not the same thing as being a jerk. This is not a call for jerkiness.
So, if you want to create more leverage through your business, my recommendation is that you have to be willing to push your people to be their best—both on an individual level and on a corporate level, even if they won’t always like you, because they’ll never get there without you.
Bottom line, if you want to build a more scalable and successful business, there are four things you need to focus on every week. They are what I call the 4 Pillars of Business Success.
- Driving top line growth
- Increasing bottom line profits
- Creating additional capacity
- Improving team performance
Or if you prefer the shorthand version, the four pillars are Growth, Profits, Capacity and Performance.
If you choose to focus on all four of these pillars each and every week, you’ll be way ahead of the rest of the crowd and you’ll end up with a business you love.
To your accelerated success!
P.S. If you’d like a visual of the 4 Pillars, click on the image below.