Around the world, about 12,000 entrepreneurs who have achieved $1 million in revenue are profoundly grateful to best-selling author and Fortune columnist Verne Harnish, who founded the Young Entrepreneurs Organization (YEO) 30 years ago. Inaugural members were Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, and Bill Gates.
Today YEO is known as Entrepreneurs Organization (EO), and continues to thrive under Harnish as well as a global umbrella of fiercely dedicated leaders who are committed to fulfilling Verne's vision to be the prominent community of connection, support, and education for business owners everywhere.
Verne recently shared his 4 most important growth lessons with approximately 160 members and guests of EO's Washington DC chapter during a 30th anniversary celebration in Washington DC.
1: Go Big with Your Network.
If you want to do great things, hang out with great people. When thinking about your biggest and boldest vision, who needs to get behind you? The bigger the names, the faster you will scale.
Verne suggests making a list of the top 25 people you want to meet that can help you go big. Then, put the name(s) of those you want to reach into a Google alert so that you are notified every time they are in the news.
Remember that no name is too big when you have a bold vision.
The most important person in your network will be their assistant. Get to know them. They are the gatekeeper and will decide if you will have access.
However, as with all relationships, you must give before you receive.
Once you connect with your game-changers, your main task is to listen. This will be the opportunity of a lifetime to learn from the best. Ask questions:
- What needs to be improved in this industry?
- How can we make it better?
- How can we impact the world?
This is especially true if you are launching an idea in an industry where another organization has established dominance. The fastest way to win over the incumbent is to join forces. Think "collaboration" rather than "competition."
2: Embrace Your Unique Brand and Own It.
Your strategy is all about your brand. Without a strong brand, you have no strategy. What words can you own in the minds of enough people to scale? The easiest way to learn what people think about when they hear your name or brand is to ask. "What do you think about when you hear my name or the name of my business?"
To discover your own answer, ask yourself, "What job am I getting done in the world?"
You want to make sure the major trade publications, news outlets, and players know you as the King or Queen of [fill in your word here].
3: Great Execution Hinges on One Thing.
Dreams are great. A strong network is fantastic. A clearly defined brand is awesome. None of it matters if you can't execute.
The most important question about execution is, "Where is the most critical constraint?"
If you can own and control your biggest threat, you win. It may be another player, it may be a manufacturing process, it may be a product.
Elon Musk is feverishly focusing on battery production because he knows that dominating this aspect of his industry solidifies his position as the market leader.
By neutralizing your biggest threat or weakness, you can win. If you focus on plugging the smaller holes, but ignore the biggest threat, you are wasting your time because the most dangerous threat still exists.
4: Cash Will Always Be King.
Revenue is Vanity.
Profit is Sanity.
Cash will always be King.
Whether you're a $1 million, $10 million, or $100 million business, your ability to grow depends on your ability to invest in your business. Thoughtfully evaluating every business investment will ensure you have enough cash on hand to allocate funds where they need to go, and move through periods when dollars may dry up.
People, Strategy, Execution and Cash
Business is as simple as this: the right people, a clearly defined strategy, a solid execution plan that neutralizes threats, and strong cash flow management.