In order to take the leap from entrepreneur to enterprise, you must be willing to tear the pieces of your business apart and reconstruct them at a higher level that drives your growth. You must be willing to get out of your comfort zone and jump. Sure, it is scary, but these strategies will help you separate real fears from imagined ones, assess them carefully, and ultimately choose growth over staying still.
The Five Components of the SCALEit Method®
There are five components that are central in scaling your company: strategic vision, cash flow, alliance of the team, leadership, and execution.
S – Strategic Vision: Knowing where you are headed is crucial in order to figure out how to get there, yet most business owners don't have a clear destination in mind and — as you might imagine — this is a big reason why they flail about instead of remaining steadily on course. Your strategic vision — or “Big Picture Vision," as I call it — is your personal Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City. It is the inspiration that keeps you determined and moving forward, regardless of the obligatory rejections and brick walls you will face. Creating the right Big Picture Vision is the key to being able to successfully scale your business.
C – Cash Flow: Think of cash flow as the life force of your company. It ensures you are breathing and pumping blood to the core systems of your business so that they will thrive and grow. You must build a revenue-driven process that creates cash for your business on a daily basis.
A – Alliance of the Team: You, as the leader, are the visionary. It is up to you to attract and surround yourself with creative talent and how-to experts who can transform your vision into reality. That includes taking the lead to build a culture that aligns your team with your Big Picture Vision and feeds off your passion and energy.
L – Leadership: Guiding your team along with you on your Big Picture Vision journey means you must become the best possible version of yourself. If you want to expand your business by fifty percent, then you must grow personally by at least sixty percent to be able to attain that station, carry the weight, and then have the emotional, physical, and intellectual reserves to lead. Your own personal growth fuels the courage necessary to lead this mission.
E – Execution: Action is where all of your magic comes to life. Action is where you apply and perfect your Big Picture Vision so you can leap higher and higher in both profits and impact. Action, not perfection, is the true measure of how well you executed your best-laid plans. Contrary to what most entrepreneurs believe, miscalculations, mistakes, and course corrections are among the largest assets in your business. Failures are never really failures; they are doorways into much better things, if you react properly to them.
In building ten companies — four of which I sold — I know the high-highs and the low-lows quite well. I have weathered many breakdowns and dead ends on my way to the breakthroughs and the big wins. I would not trade one moment of those experiences — even the painful ones — because so many of my smartest pivots came from my darkest times.
Here's the deal. To get out of nowhere land, you must upsize your strategic practices, implement new marketing strategies, find new ways to build your team, and expand your mindset to break through whatever is keeping you stuck at the same level. You must believe in the deepest part of your being that you can build your enterprise, regardless of whether or not you know exactly how to get there at this moment. Then, you must be willing to take the leap into the giant unknown — to make your impossible possible.
Yes, it is a risk. But isn't anything you truly want worth such a risk? If your answer is no — if you are too afraid, too shy, too this, or too that — the alternative is that the dream you carry in your head will never be realized. To me, that is the saddest story of all.
So, ask yourself: Which is really the greater risk: going for it, or living with the regret of not having gone for it for the rest of your life? Even if you don't choose to take the risk, there is no guarantee the status quo will remain the status quo.
Things change. Markets change. You change. If you think sitting tight will “keep you safe," I suggest you spend some time thinking that through. If you don't make the commitment to build a new structure for your company, one of three things will most likely happen:
-You will squander opportunities to leap from entrepreneur to enterprise.
-You will be a sinkhole in your own growth and maybe even get swallowed by it.
-You will find your company disrupted by the latest innovation that you didn't see coming.
I don't want to see any of this happen to you — and it does not need to. All “can'ts" must be tossed out the window. You can achieve your dreams — and you will.
Scaling a business, like performing on a trapeze, requires a balance of will and skill. You become an expert at learning the right steps, tools, and principles — the central principle being that it all starts with you as the business owner, founder, and CEO. Everything starts with your decisions and actions.
I commend you for all of the accomplishments that have led you to this place. Business is definitely not for the faint of heart. Many give up before they even reach this point, and I'm sure you've had many moments of doubt. We all have! But your tenacity and spirit have gotten you here. Now, it's time for you to develop the structure, systems, roadmap, and mindset you need to propel you to the next level of growth. Once you let go of what is no longer working and what's holding your organization back, you will be able to enter into a whole new world of remarkable opportunities.
Sweaty Palms & Weak Responses
Early spring 2018, I walked into the building of a startup accelerator program I had been accepted into. Armed with only confidence and a genius idea, I was eager to start level one. I had no idea of what to expect, but I knew I needed help. Somehow with life's journey of twists and turns, this former successful event planner was now about to blindly walk into the tech industry and tackle on a problem that too many women entrepreneurs had faced.
I sat directly across from the program founders, smiling ear to ear as I explained the then concept for HerHeadquarters. Underneath the table, I rubbed my sweaty palms on my pants, the anxiousness and excitement was getting the best of me. I rambled on and on about the future collaborating app for women entrepreneurs and all the features it would have. They finally stopped me, asking the one question I had never been asked before, "how do you know your target audience even wants this product?".
Taken back by the question, I responded, "I just know". The question was powerful, but my response was weak. While passionate and eager, I was unprepared and naively ready to commit to building a platform when I had no idea if anyone wanted it. They assigned me with the task of validating the need for the platform first. The months to follow were eye-opening and frustrating, but planted seeds for the knowledge that would later build the foundation for HerHeadquarters. I spent months researching and validating through hundreds of surveys, interviews, and focus groups.
I was dedicated to knowing and understanding the needs and challenges of my audience. I knew early on that having a national collaborating app for women entrepreneurs would mean that I'd need to get feedback from women all across the country. I repeatedly put myself on the line by reaching out to strangers, asking them to speak with me. While many took the time to complete a survey and participate in a phone interview, there were some who ignored me, some asked what was in it for them, and a few suggested that I was wasting my time in general. They didn't need another "just for women" platform just because it was trending.
I hadn't expected pushback, specifically from the women I genuinely wanted to serve. I became irritated. Just because HerHeadquarters didn't resonate with them, doesn't mean that another woman wouldn't find value in the platform and love it. I felt frustrated that the very women I was trying to support were the ones telling me to quit. I struggled with not taking things personally.
I hadn't expected pushback, specifically from the women I genuinely wanted to serve.
The Validation, The Neglect, The Data, and The Irony
The more women I talked to, the more the need for my product was validated. The majority of women entrepreneurs in the industries I was targeting did collaborate. An even higher number of women experienced several obstacles in securing those collaborations and yes, they wanted easier access to high quality brand partnerships.
I didn't just want to launch an app. I wanted to change the image of women who collaborated and adjust the narrative of these women. I was excited to introduce a new technology product that would change the way women secured valuable, rewarding products. I couldn't believe that despite that rising number of women-owned businesses launching, there was no tool catered to them allowing them to grow their business even faster. This demographic had been neglected for too long.
I hadn't just validated the need for the future platform, but I gained valuable data that could be used as leverage. Ironically, armed with confidence, a genius idea, and data to support the need for the platform, I felt stuck. The next steps were to begin designing a prototype, I lacked the skillsets to do it myself and the funding to hire someone else to do it.
I Desperately Need You and Your services, but I'm Broke
I found myself having to put myself out there again, allowing myself to be vulnerable and ask for help. I eventually stumbled across Bianca, a talented UX/UI designer. After coming across her profile online and reaching out, we agreed to meet for a happy hour. The question I had been asked months prior by the founders of my accelerator program came up again, "how do you know your target audience even wants this product?".
It was like déjà vu, the sweaty palms under the table reemerged and the ear to ear smile as I talked about HerHeadquarters, only this time, I had data. I proudly showed Bianca my research: the list of women from across the country I talked to that supported that not only was this platform solving a problem they had, but it's a product that they'd use and pay for.
I remember my confidence dropping as my transparency came into the conversation. How do you tell someone "I desperately need you and your services, but I'm broke?". I told her that I was stuck, that I needed to move forward with design, but that I didn't have the money to make it happen. Bianca respected my honesty, loved the vision of HerHeadquarters, but mostly importantly the data sold her. She believed in me, she believed in the product, and knew that it would attract investors.
From Paper to Digital
We reached a payment agreed where Bianca would be paid in full once HerHeadquarters received its first investment deal. The next few months were an all-time high for me. Seeing an idea that once floated around in my head make its way to paper, then transform into a digital prototype is was one of the highlights of this journey. Shortly after, we began user testing, making further adjustments based off of feedback.
The further along HerHeadquarters became, the more traction we made. Women entrepreneurs across the U.S. were signing up for early access to the app, we were catching investor's attention, and securing brand partnerships all before we had a launched product. The closer we got to launching, the scarier it was. People who only had a surface value introduction to HerHeadquarters put us in the same category of other platforms or brands catering to women, even if we were completely unrelated, they just heard "for women". I felt consistent pressure, most of which was self-applied, but I still felt it.
I became obsessed with all things HerHeadquarters. My biggest fear was launching and disappointing my users. With a national target audience, a nonexistent marketing budget, and many misconceptions regarding collaborating, I didn't know how to introduce this new brand in a way that distinctly made it clear who were targeting and who we were different from.
I second guessed myself all the time.
A 'Submit' button has never in life been more intimidating. In May 2019, HerHeadquarters was submitted to the Apple and Google play stores and released to women entrepreneurs in select U.S. cities. We've consistently grown our user base and seen amazing collaborations take place. I've grow and learned valuable lessons about myself personally and as a leader. This experience has taught me to trust my journey, trust my hard work, and always let honesty and integrity lead me. I had to give myself permission to make mistakes and not beat myself up about it.
I learned that a hundred "no's" is better than one "yes" from an unfit partner. The most valuable thing that I've learned is keeping my users first. Their feedback, their challenges, and suggestions are valuable and set the pace for the future of HerHeadquarters, as a product and a company. I consider it an honor to serve and cater to one of the most neglected markets in the industry.