The dot-com boom of the 90s attracted many entrepreneurs into believing that almost anybody had a shot of making it big. For a time, it seemed all you needed was an alluring IPO and nerves of steel to raise millions. That, of course, would not last. However, the companies that made it out of the bubble invariably had one thing in common: they were helmed by people with impeccable business sense. The best of these leaders have the foresight to plan for success.
I recently sat down with multi-millionaire business-woman Lori R. Taylor, founder ofTruDog, to discuss what it takes to go the extra mile and build a winning business.
Here are the 3 things that Lori did, that you must do if you want to experience 10x growth with your startup.
1. Seriously Plan for Success
When Taylor launched her agency, Rev Media Marketing, she was working for the agency RR Donnelley for 18 years prior to that and finally decided to take the dive in starting her own business.
It didn't take her much time to realize that the business was running her, she was not running the business. Her clients were completely reliant on her. Then she realized that she needed to make her company self sustaining, whether she was there or not.
Kind of like one of the bottlenecks I experienced with my own personal business, she was the first point of contact. Lori realized that if she had a chance to do things over, she would have built out a few more layers of infrastructure to avoid this problem.
When Lori was closing deals herself, she thought she could hand over her business to her team, but her clients just wanted to talk to her.
That's when Taylor started coming up with contingency plans.
She had a bunch of plans for if things didn't go well. She had a lot of plan B's for how she would pivot and what she would do. But the one thing that she didn't plan for was a contingency plan on what happens if the business just started booming.
Everyone wanted what Lori had, and that is exactly what happened. In fact, things got so crazy that Lori ran out of inventory 17 times in 2015.
Although it was a good problem to have, if Lori would have planned for success from the get-go, she could have capitalized much more.
2. Stay Focused on Your Mission
If you ask an entrepreneur what the most difficult aspect of launching a startup is, chances are, they will say, that it is staying focused. The irony is that many take up entrepreneurship to escape the 9-5 corporate grind, but entrepreneurship is in itself more than what you would encounter at a full-time job.
What's more, today's digital environment, with its smartphones, tablets and social networks, ensures that we have even less mental bandwidth to work with than ever. Our time is everything.
Lori's a lot like me. She talked about how she struggled, chased squirrels, got excited over shiny pennies and didn't stay focused on her mission, passion or purpose. And I thought to myself, wow that sounds just like me!
Lori's secret for staying focused is to complete the most mentally demanding tasks -- those that require creativity or concentration -- first. Once that is done and only when that is done, she will move on to the easier tasks. In other words, eat that frog. This frees up invaluable mental bandwidth. Imagine the compounding benefits of doing this every day.
3. Be Willing to Put in Sweat Equity
When you contribute to a startup with your sweat, blood and tears, you are building sweat equity. At times, it can be difficult to gauge or identify sweat equity, so let's take a look.
There are two components:
The problem is that too many people quit in the middle. It's super fun in the beginning, right? So fun. Everyone is excited. You've got your presentation, you've got your stats, you're going to investors. They want you to be right.
This could be the one, this could be their big investment. And everyone's excited. But you get there. You get that first big jump, and it starts happening. And then, you run out of inventory, things start to get hard like in Lori's case.
Lori knows that people are toiling, but she is also the type of person who is willing to go the distance because she knows exactly what it feels like to be in the end zone and just how hard it is to get there. But regardless, she is willing to do whatever it takes to get there, as long as it aligns with her mission and mantra and that she always does what she says. She tries to show people that she cares.
If you want to have your startup experience 10x growth, show investors, customers, business partners, yourself and everyone in between that you care by building sweat equity and going the distance with every business venture that you take on. You don't want to get to the end zone to realize that you forgot a crucial part of your success, like bringing the football with you down the field.