The first year working at Cultivate Advisors is flying by. I’ve been loving the client work and learning a ton from my coworkers. What’s my role as business advisor? To help companies grow faster, increase profitability and help owners get their personal time back. We do coaching and consulting to help owners work ON the business, not just IN the business.
A lot of my clients had a great first quarter and are on track for 30-60% revenue growth in 2019. So I wanted to share 5 commonalities that can apply to any small to mid size company. For a bit of context, one client is a staffing firm, one is a marketing agency, and the other a food tour company. Most Cultivate clients are 2-40 employees and provide B2B services or home contracting services.
Here’s my 5 keys to revenue growth in 2019:
1. Create a SIMPLE business dashboard. It needs to be have no more than 2-3 indicators and be something that gives a quick snapshot of business health. For example – it can be weekly sales, capacity %, proposals shipped, A/R, or # of project revisions. I like it to be data that gets entered manually so you have to slow down and think about the actual weekly results. Very quickly we’ll see weekly trends in the right direction or know if we’re making progress towards increased revenue, efficiency, etc.
2. Remember you’re unconsciously competent. In simpler terms, it’s a reminder that your team members don’t have the years of experience you do as owner. You’ve been an AV engineer for 12 years; they started at your company 12 weeks ago. They need systems and skill development to do similar quality work. With my staffing firm we created one training document for sourcing candidates that felt painstakingly slow to the owner, but 3 weeks later that employee has gone from a burden to happy contributor. Too many times we see founders get frustrated with someone doesn’t level up immediately or they think its more efficient to do everything themselves.
3. Pick one BIG WIN area per quarter. A small to mid size company can only tackle one new initiative well per quarter. The controller at a former company used to say ‘get the #1 priority done because nothing else gets done’
Whether it’s cleaning up accounts receivable, creating a new interview process, launching a PR campaign, or restructuring an org chart, etc. pick one big domino. Then that extreme focus paired with the deadline of tackling it within 90 days creates massive results.
4. Block out time for sales. Could we spend all day replying to emails and putting out fires? Probably. But for most companies under 30 employees, the owner is still a huge part of the sales engine and needs to consistently contribute. Block out two chunks of uninterrupted time every week to drive sales. We’ve all heard the analogy about the professor putting rocks in the jar and prioritizing before unimportant small rocks steal your time…business development time is something that must be time blocked like your most important client meeting. For the marketing agency, this meant every Tuesday and Thursday from 9-11 and a big sticky note on her laptop reminding her ‘send two proposals per week’ – her pipeline was full before maternity leave.
5. Break the ‘busy = productive’ mindset. Our company has noticed there’s 5 distinct phases of entrepreneurship going from $0 up to $10M. What gets you from the first ‘Hustler’ stage to having a few employees and systems, is doing everything yourself and pushing the boulder up the hill.
After that however, we have to break the mindset that being extremely busy means you’re being effective. For a lot of owners this feels like the opposite of what got them initial traction. You have to delegate, trust employees, not be the front line for every fire that comes up.
Last week my client who owns the staffing company started our call saying “it feels slow or quiet recently.” But when we looked at her pipeline, they have more customers than ever. “It’s not slow, it’s just less chaos,” I told her. Less chaos. Because we skilled up her other recruiters, streamlined their sales process, and weeded out bad prospects.
Our average client grows 30% per year. There’s no secret sauce to driving those huge results. It’s tracking progress, working smarter, and picking a few key multipliers in the business.