The recipe for start-up success is simple: Make a good product.

If only it were that easy.

If you want to thrive, a good product simply isn't enough. Hundreds of competitors can make good products.

So what else is required?

Recently, I sat down with James Rores, a business growth expert and founder of Pipeline Coach, a coaching firm that specializes in working with small- and mid-market companies that want to double their size, growth rate, or market share.

Here is his nine-step checklist for growing companies into market leaders:


For any company, this is the crucial first step. If you’re not healthy, there’s no reason to move forward. According to Rores, it all comes down to operations:

1. Are you profitable?

An obvious first question but critical, nonetheless. You can have all the passion, drive, and purpose purpose in the world. But if you’re not making a profit, you’re not going anywhere.

2. Can you generate sales?

Beyond profit, what does your future look like? Sales should be the backbone of any company—is it at yours?

3. Can you generate leads?

It doesn’t matter if you’re up to your eyeballs with business right now. If you needed to, are you capable of bringing in new business?


Once a company is on sound financial footing—and not before—it’s time to grow. Growth is all about creating relationships and engaging customers.

4. Are your customers satisfied?

If you were to walk up to one of your customers right now, what would they say? Satisfied customers are what keeps any company solvent.

5. Do you have a formal sales pipeline?

What about customers yet to come? Instead of grabbing for business in every direction, it’s important that a company establishes a process for acquiring new customers.

6. How are you different?

Once you’ve created a healthy business, seek your unique factor. What makes you special in a sea of competition?


Finally, once health and growth are solid, leadership should take up most of your time.

7. Are you innovative?

Leading companies are the ones that are constantly changing. Does your company embrace change or hide behind Day One practices?

8. Do you have a sales culture?

Are you by the book or does your company have a signature style when it comes to sales? How do you treat your customers differently from the way your competitors treat them? Establishing your own culture ensures your company will stand out.

9. Are you a brand leader?

If you've mastered the previous eight steps you should be well on your way to accomplishing this one. At this point, you should be a stand-out in your industry. Customers know your brand and turn to it even if your prices are above industry norms (think Apple). As a brand leader, your current revenue stream can support and grow your business for years to come.

What do you think of Rores’ steps?