Credit: Originally published as an article by Brad Stevens on Inc.com
Always chasing the next big concept? Instead, dust off and maximize the proven principles you’ve already implemented–and “find your hedgehog.”
Brad Stevens is an Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) member, president of the EO Atlanta chapter, and incoming Member Engagement Director for EO’s US East region. He’s the founder and CEO of Outsource Access, which provides highly trained virtual staff from the Philippines to entrepreneurs and CEOs worldwide. Brad also hosts the Automate & Delegate podcast and is a global speaker on “Redefining How You Scale,” including presentations to over 50 EO chapters. We asked Brad what drove his company’s growth during the pandemic. Here’s what he shared:
As entrepreneurs, we’re often intrigued by exploring the next big concept and incorporating it into our companies–but we don’t always squeeze all the juice out of strategies we’ve already learned.
When the pandemic hit, I was in Atlanta–but my managed virtual assistant and outsourcing company was based in the Philippines and growing by 20 staff per month to 340 employees in under two years. While some outsourcing firms struggled from pandemic fallout, we experienced growth by leaning on proven models, discipline, and automation.
Entrepreneurs are reactive by nature: Jumping into the next big thing, iterating quickly, and adopting new strategies. This action-oriented approach overlooks the philosophical and tactical elements necessary in building a self-sustaining company.
To paraphrase Jim Collins’ books Good to Great and Great by Choice, your ‘Next Big Thing’ may be the big thing you already learned–but just haven’t applied the proper focus and execution to make successful yet.
It’s true: You don’t need to reinvent the wheel with every new concept from the next great book, speaker, or podcast. Just squeeze all the juice out of proven concepts, and resist the temptation to jump to the next.
For our management team, re-reading Good to Great together through the lens of our rapidly growing company helped us realize how timeless and valid the principles are for every entrepreneur at any stage.
Here are four proven elements to empower growth–even during a global pandemic when your company is on the other side of the globe:
Find Your Hedgehog
As Collins’ notes, the hedgehog does one thing well: Curling into a ball to mystify predators. Many entrepreneurs, particularly in growth stages and desperate for revenue, agree to be everything to everyone. One question Collins poses in fighting the temptation to say yes too often is: “What can you be the best in the world at and why?”
By determining your ultimate strength, you’ll minimize distraction from that focus. Yes, it’s difficult to stay focused on one key strength when entrepreneurs tend to start 10 projects before finishing the first or have 15 value propositions instead of one. However, the discipline to understand what you’re the best at and why is crucial for sustained growth.
So, what does your company do better than any other?
Adopt a Flywheel Mentality
A flywheel is a self-perpetuating engine that keeps building momentum–every entrepreneur’s dream and one of Collins’ most powerful growth concepts. The flywheel mindset dismisses erratic decisions so you can execute on fundamentals. The flywheel framework keeps it turning. For my company, as clientele grows, we improve processes, feeding a deeper understanding of client needs.
When your business puts fanatical customer experience as its central focus, the wheel will naturally expand, keep turning, and drive referrals. How are you maximizing a client-centric approach to keep your flywheel turning?
Implement Level-5 Leadership
What’s your company’s “why”? Collins shares that Level-5 Leadership reflects a commitment to purpose–not ego–differentiating it from Level 4. For example, my company’s “why” is to help clients and staff maximize their potential, reinvest in the community, and align with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Ask yourself, do your everyday actions reflect your company’s core values and purpose? Is your business growth all about you or about purpose and impact for employees, clients, and the world?
Educate With Marketing Assets
Education-driven marketing efforts can proactively address client doubts. Keep the Collier Principle in mind: “Always enter the conversation already occurring in the prospect’s mind.”
A great starting point is to isolate negative perceptions about your industry. Is it poor service, high prices, low quality, unprofessional behavior–or all of the above? Next, create educational blogs, guides, and videos to address each point individually. Another approach is to create content that educates prospects on the industry or your unique product.
To increase sales velocity through education, identify questions you hear repeatedly during sales calls and answer them in a video. Ask prospects to watch it prior to their sales call so they have the answers. That way, reps can focus on closing the sale. When I made a video addressing questions about hiring virtual assistants, it prequalified prospects and rapidly reduced our sales cycle.
Once you’ve created educational marketing assets, keep prospects on a “nurture wheel” featuring blogs, emails, social posts, press releases, and even automated ink-written letters. By earning trust with consistent, valuable content, prospects are more likely to choose your company when their needs intersect with your service. Do your marketing materials educate, excite, and convert?
When you prioritize mining the gold in principles you’ve already implemented from a great book or event, you may find that your growth solution is right in front of you.