After 20 years of helping CEOs scale their companies, I've learned most entrepreneurs and business owners are similar. When I talk to them for the first time, I like to start with the same question: Why did you start this company? The answers are as different as the people themselves. So, I drill deeper, Why is that important to you? Why this business and not another? Eventually, after a few rounds of digging, everyone ends at the same conclusion: freedom.
In the end, entrepreneurs' greatest motivation to start their business is freedom, be it financial, the ability to live wherever they want or to own their time, or the autonomy to influence the world in a way that matters to them.
My experience has taught me these three simple things you can do to gain more freedom.
1. Scale to increase impact.
A bigger impact may mean improving people's lives, and financial wealth, generating new jobs and opportunities, or reaching a wider market. However you define impact, accomplishing those goals leads to satisfaction and ultimately freedom. Defining your company priorities and individual priorities by team and following up quarter after quarter, is a proven way to keep everyone aligned, reach your goals, and start scaling with discipline.
The fact is that you need methodologies and procedures as much as any other part of the business. A CEO needs to learn to prioritize, measure everything the company is doing, and communicate--particularly when an organization is scaling.
2. Reduce drama in your business and life.
After more than twenty years in business, I know drama when I see it and how quickly it spreads from your company to your entire life. If you work until 2 a.m. every night stressed over sales, you will likely wake up too tired to exercise or take your kids to school.
Where to start? Focus on yourself first, then your team, then your company, in that order. You cannot help other people if you are not well or in a position to do so. And as soon as you find your work/life balance, you can focus on assembling the right team, equipping them to do their best, and letting them get to it. Finally, once you and your people are on the right path, you will be in a stronger position to focus on your company and define the strategy as a team.
3. Design a predictable sales system.
Too many entrepreneurs tell me they grew their business last year, but they cannot quantify it. They have not determined the company's valuation or even attempted to measure its impact. While it may be apparent that they are making money, most don't even know it for sure and are burned out, overweight, their family life is falling apart, or all of the above.
If you want to keep afloat and of course, scale, you need to ensure predictability in sales by developing a system that brings the necessary cash to cover all fixed expenses. And as the company scales, so will your costs, making it essential to scale the sales system faster to continue to finance growth.
If you are going to scale, you will have to develop a predictable sales system. Sales need to become like a machine--run on their own, without your direct involvement, efficient enough to predict its output consistently, and reliable enough that you can keep it going with just a little monitoring and maintenance.
I have seen many talented entrepreneurs lose their confidence and give up. Remember, you do not have to carry the company's entire weight on your own. Know that others like you are looking to connect and help each other. Organizations like Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) and Young Presidents Organization (YPO) can help you meet other remarkable entrepreneurs, CEOs, and thought leaders, and learn the dynamics of leading and scaling companies together.
Nobody said it's an easy path. There are no shortcuts in executing with discipline to gain freedom. To scale and enjoy the ride, you need to create routines that deliver results and set you free. Your first step is to figure out your why. Why are you in this business? What do you want your impact to be? The answers will show you what you need to do and how to get there.