Patty DeDominic, Coach to Thriving Company Leaders
What keeps a smaller business small? Why do entrepreneurs often get stuck as they try and grow their businesses beyond a million dollars… or $10 million?
In this article, I’m going to give you some best-practice tips for “getting un-stuck.” It’s based on my ten-plus years of helping entrepreneurs just like you to liberate their dreams. And I can relate: Before I became a business coach, I spent 25-plus years as an entrepreneur myself, culminating in an eight-digit exit. So between my clients and me, you can trust the source!
And after my “getting un-stuck” tips, I’ll give you a quick rundown of my essential ten-point method for superior decision-making. Feel free to print out a copy and pin it to your wall!
An un-straight journey
Business—heck, life—doesn’t go by the book. You may know how you want things to happen. You make plans. You set goals. You do everything you can to make it happen on the first try.
If you found yourself smiling when you read that last part which I italicized, pat yourself on the back. Life doesn’t happen on the first try.
Business growth can ramp up gradually, or it can come in fits and starts. Good entrepreneurs—and I’ve seen enough of them to know the good ones when I do—have skinned their knees and learned from their stumbles. While they’re determined, they’re not so hard-headed as to be unable to reframe past experiences to their advantage. That resiliency isn’t just introspective: They’re also observant. Why, after all, learn solely from your own mistakes, when you can also learn from the mistakes of others?
Naked emperor alert
Moving ahead means thinking differently than you did in the past. While you can, and should, trust your intuition, be open to more—and differing—viewpoints than you had before.
Don’t hire in your own image. I’ve seen that too many times. “Cloning” is a recipe for disaster. You don’t want to surround yourself with people who agree with you all the time. By the same token, don’t surround yourself with people who disagree with you all the time. Strike a balance. Find team players—people who are comfortable wearing multiple hats. Sometimes, they’ll need to speak up (“The emperor has no clothes!”); other times, they’ll need to align around urgent quarterly goals. Your job is to listen to them. And make sure that they—and you—continue to live by your vital values: the one thing that shouldn’t change as your business grows. (Read more about this topic in an earlier blog post of mine.)
Think about tomorrow, today
Don’t forget to celebrate your victories. They’ll recharge you in the face of inevitable setbacks. Keep optimistic about your future, and your ability to surmount virtually any issue that confronts you. You can do it!
Even $100 million businesses can stumble, simply by forgetting how far they’ve come, and more importantly, where they’re going. Headed to $150 or even just 25 million? Then start staffing and buying tools and building systems to accommodate that larger scale.
I’m not saying this will be easy. Heck, when I bought my first office phone system, it cost me $17,000, and I lost two weeks’ sleep before I pulled the trigger! I almost fired a controller who took 30 days to decide what kind of copier to buy! In hindsight, given our growth and office needs, the bigger decision shouldn’t have been “Which copier to buy?”, but rather “Should we buy or lease?” This is when your vendors—companies and their salespeople—should be stepping up to help you grow. Needless to say, surround yourself with good vendors, too.
I have a client that hired a part-time student who will eventually go to grad school… and go away. This client was agonizing over the decision of replacing the part-timer. Yet they’re not cash-strapped. They’re on track to double their sales—in the multimillion-dollar range—in the coming year. So it’s easy for me to advise them (tapping into my old photocopier experience) that they obviously need to hire and cross-train multiple employees.
Build a strong foundation
Looking to reduce problems that will arise from inevitable errors? Install controls to maintain rigor. Seeking to maintain cash-flow when you’re fighting alligators in a swamp? Proper credit and working capital can save you. “Easier said than done,” you may reply, but this is why you need outside advisors, with experience and perspective that exceed your own. It’ll take the edge off these hard choices.
Speaking of choices, and as promised above, here is my ten-point method for gathering facts, weighing risks, and making decisions:
- Clarify the picture. Socrates said, “Know thyself.” In the military, they call it “situational awareness.” In business, it means gaining an optimal understanding of yourself and the assets around you.
- Leverage your strengths. Understand and be clear on where you add the most value in any operation. To employ a NASCAR analogy, is it in the stands, on the track, in the pit, or back at Headquarters?
- Determine what’s at stake. What will happen if you choose Option A vs. Option B?
- Solicit opposing opinions. Consider the sources and their bias. Weigh this into your decision-making; failure to do so can be costly.
- Seek innovative ideas—and then innovate. Solicit creative approaches to problem-solving, and then use this as input to make your own decision. Remember: There are many routes to a faraway journey. Pick the most gratifying one. You only take this trip once. Enjoy the ride.
- Set a time limit for each phase you must complete. Stick to it.
- Execute. Make your decisions. When the time comes, be decisive. Pull the trigger and move on.
- Review, both in real-time, and again with the benefit of hindsight. Leverage what you learn.
- Adapt. Revise, pivot, or start over if needed. No skinned knees, no glory.
- Grow. Learn. Do. Teach. Share. Every experience makes you stronger. Embrace that. It’s part of the joy of moving forward.
Are you feeling “stuck” as you try to move your business forward? Are you agonizing over decisions that you’ll realize were small potatoes in hindsight? If so, you might benefit from the perspective and experience of a seasoned business coach. Contact me today to set up your free, zero-obligation eight-point discovery call. It could prove the first step of a truly fulfilling journey.
About the Author, Patty DeDominic
After decades of building own multi-million dollar enterprise, Patty became an angel investor and business consultant. Today she is a no nonsense, fun loving Business Coach for high achieving teams.
Patty founded and built PDQCareers & CT Engineering, the 600 employee Recruiting/Engineering Outsource Contracting firm doing business across the USA and in 3 countries (Japan, the Philippines and Jamaica). She successfully founded, then acquired companies and after placing over 250,000 people she sold in 2006. That business and former clients are now part of America’s largest specialty staffing supplier, Employbridge.
Some of her chairmanships include: The LA Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Women Business Owners and the Foundation for SCORE.org where she helped start the private million-dollar fundraising projects.
Patty and her husband Gene Sinser, a sales executive and art gallery owner, raised a blended family of 5 kids and are now proud grandparents of 5. She loves her animals including chickens and donkeys and today they get to live in the “country” on Wings Ranch in Santa Barbara county.