Business growth is both a nebulous task and a common ambition among all business owners and managers. In the SMB IT community there are common challenges and predictable steps to achieve growth. Also common and predictable are the obstacles, challenges, and warning signs in growing a business to be over one million dollars in sales. This is the Million Dollar Hurdle. It is the aim of this article, in whole and with each part, to illustrate how to overcome the Million Dollar Hurdle and achieve the ultimate coveted goal of nearly every business owner – scalable and predictable business growth.
This article is the last of a seven part series with each article focusing upon an aspect of the Million Dollar Hurdle. The complete set of articles can be found at www.AmbitionMission.com/blog. The concepts included in this multi-part article are:
1. Defining The Million Dollar Hurdle
2. “Hitting the Wall”
3. “Sizing up the challenges”
4. “Letting Go”
5. “Breaking through Barriers”
6. “Process Driven Success”
7. “The Next Hurdle”
The “head fake” of learning how to overcome the Million Dollar Hurdle is that the process prepares you and your business for the next hurdle – and all that follow. Businesses grow in stages and often in spurts. Often a business will plateau or stall at or around a few revenue milestones. While not an exact science, the milestones that represent “hurdles” and therefore fundamental changes to a business that are needed to grow forward are $1 Million, $5 Million, $10 Million and $50 Million.
Businesses that have less than $1 Million in sales have similar issues as other sub $1 Million companies, as is true in each of the other groups. The six concepts discussed in this article’s previous parts are each relevant in overcoming each subsequent hurdle as well. Thus in learning how to overcome the Million Dollar Hurdle, all milestones are possible.
The steps required are virtually the same: 1) Identify the hurdle itself, what it represents, what in the business must change in order to overcome it etc… 2) Look for stress fractures in the business. Where are the balls being dropped? In what department does the well-oiled machine seem to be breaking down? 3) Determine in detail what resources and tasks must be brought to bear to remedy each of these issues. 4) Evaluate current staff and determine who can move up and who may need to move out. Create new job descriptions and responsibilities that match the new version of that department. 5) Tackle the challenges in making the necessary changes understanding that these trials are required passage over the upcoming hurdle. 6) Define all new processes within the company. Revamp all existing processes that need an over-hall. 7) Last, with each hurdle, have a vision for what the next hurdle looks like and plan for it.
When looking ahead at the potential growth of your business, it is important to have a vision. Planning for that vision is akin to opening a sketch pad and drawing one’s “dream house.” It does not mean making foolish decisions that depend upon significant and aggressive future growth. That means one should not overcommit on a new expensive house or car based upon future results to “force success.” On the other hand, I once knew an entrepreneur who was assigned to run a branch office for a company for four months during an evaluation period who signed a 3 year office lease because he believed in his own success. Sometimes success belongs to those who believe in it the most and the longest.