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.
I walk into a room full of men and I know exactly what they're thinking: "What does she know about whisky?"
I know this because many men have asked me that same question from the moment I started my career in spirits a decade ago.
In a male-dominated industry, I realized early on that I would always have to work harder than my male counterparts to prove my credibility, ability and knowledge in order to earn the trust of leadership stakeholders, coworkers, vendors and even consumers of our products. I am no stranger to hard work and appreciate that everyone needs to prove their worth when starting any career or role. What struck me however, was how the recognition and opportunities seemed to differ between genders. Women usually had to prove themselves before they were accepted and promoted ("do the work first and earn it"), whereas men often were more easily accepted and promoted on future potential. It seemed like their credibility was automatically and immediately assumed. Regardless of the challenges and adversity I faced, my focus was on proving my worth within the industry, and I know many other women were doing the same.
Thankfully, the industry has advanced in the last few years since those first uncomfortable meetings. The rooms I walk into are no longer filled with just men, and perceptions are starting to change significantly. There are more women than ever before making, educating, selling, marketing and conceptualizing whiskies and spirits of all kinds. Times are changing for the better and it's benefitting the industry overall, which is exciting to see.
For me, starting a career in the spirits business was a happy accident. Before spirits, I had worked in the hospitality industry and on the creative agency side. That background just happened to be what a spirits company was looking for at the time and thus began my journey in the industry. I was lucky that my gender did not play a deciding role in the hiring process, as I know that might not have been the case for everyone at that time.
Now, ten plus years later, I am fortunate to work for and lead one of the most renowned and prestigious Whisky brands in the world.. What was once an accident now feels like my destiny. The talent and skill that goes into the whisky-making process is what inspired me to come back and live and breathe those brands as if they were my own. It gave me a deep understanding and appreciation of an industry that although quite large, still has an incredible amount of handmade qualities and a specific and meticulous craft I have not seen in any other industry before. Of course, my journey has not been without challenges, but those obstacles have only continued to light my passion for the industry.
The good news is, we're on the right track. When you look at how many females hold roles in the spirits industry today compared to what it looked like 15 years ago, there has been a significant increase in both the number of women working and the types of roles women are hired for. From whisky makers and distillers to brand ambassadors and brand marketers, we're seeing more women in positions of influence and more spirits companies willing to stand up and provide a platform for women to make an impact. Many would likely be surprised to learn that one of our team's Whisky Makers is a woman. They might even be more surprised to learn that women, with a heightened sense of smell compared to our male counterparts, might actually be a better fit for the role! We're nowhere near equality, but the numbers are certainly improving.
It was recently reported by the Distilled Spirits Council that women today represent a large percentage of whisky drinkers and that has helped drive U.S. sales of distilled spirits to a record high in 2017. Today, women represent about 37% of the whisky drinkers in the United States, which is a large increase compared to the 1990s when a mere 15% of whisky drinkers were women. As for what's causing this change? I believe it's a mix of the acceptance of women to hold roles within the spirits industry partnered with thoughtful programs and initiatives to engage with female consumers.
While whisky was previously known for being a man's drink, reserved for after-dinner cigars behind closed doors, it is now out in the open and accessible for women to learn about and enjoy too.
What was once subculture is now becoming the norm and women are really breaking through and grabbing coveted roles in the spirits business. That said, it's up to the industry as a whole to continue to push it forward. When you work for a company that values diversity, you're afforded the opportunity to be who you are and let that benefit your business. Working under the model that the best brand initiatives come from passionate groups of people with diverse backgrounds, we are able to offer different points of view and challenge our full team to bring their best work forward, which in turn creates better experiences for our audience. We must continue to diversify the industry and break against the status quo if we really want to continue evolving.
While we've made great strides as an industry, there is still a lot of work to be done. To make a change and finally achieve gender equality in the workplace, both men and women need to stand behind the cause as we are better collectively as a balanced industry. We have proved that we have the ability to not only meet the bar, but to also raise it - now we just need everyone else to catch up.