The things that you need to do to scale your business to six figures will be different from the things you need to do to scale your business to seven figures and beyond. There are things, however, that are fairly universal and should be on your to-do list as a business leader. Scaling your business requires you to rethink what things you should do that will give the most traction to your scaling efforts. In this episode, Crista Grasso enumerates the five most important things that every business leader should focus on plus a bonus tip for those who are leading teams. Listen in and learn how you can optimize your business for phenomenal growth.
In this episode, I discuss:
- Profit Producing Activities
- Innovation and planning
- Self Development
Tune into Episode 5 of the Lean Out Your Business Podcast or keep reading below.
5 Things That Should Be On Your To Do List To Scale
The first thing that should be on your to do list should be no surprise to you. You should have profit producing activities on your list every single work day. There are two different types of profit producing activities. There's those that bring in more immediate profit, and then there's those that bring in profit in the future. You always want a blend of both in your business.
1. Profit Producing Activities - Immediate
You always want to focused on things that generate an immediate profit, such as launches, doing consult or discovery calls with prospective clients, and working with your clients and showing up and delivering on the commitments that you've made to them. A large part of every week should be focused here.
2. Profit Producing Activities - Future
You want to balance things that generate an immediate profit with things that will continue to drive profit in the future. The profit producing activities that are more aligned with the future have a lot to do with your lead generation and your lead nurturing.
This is where things like networking, relationship building, publishing your weekly newsletter, and your social media posts and content management come into play. The things you do to constantly bring in new leads and stay in front of them to build up the know, like, and trust factor and help them understand you and your brand's point of view to see if it's a good alignment.
Something that also falls into this category is developing new programs and offers or improving your current programs and offers. The time that you're investing in those things usually don't give you an immediate return on that investment while you're working on them. As soon as you release them or build them into your upcoming launch, they become more immediate profit producing activities.
Profit producing activities are critically important. This is something that you will have on your plate as well as your team should have on their plate, depending on their role.
3. Strategic Planning & Innovation
When you want to scale your business, you need to be carving out time to consistently be working ON your business, not just IN your business. You'll need to regularly create protected space for both strategic planning and for innovation activities.
Strategic Planning: Planning is critical for successfully scaling a business however you want to avoid the common trap of over-planning and instead focus on lean strategic planning and leverage the 15 x 1 planning model that explains how to do your planning in 15 minutes a day and 1 hour a week.
You want to do just enough planning, just in time, so you have the clarity on what to be working on when to achieve that big bold vision and goals you have for this year, but so you can dedicate the majority of your time to profit producing activities and things that are going to move the business forward.
"Carve out time to consistently be working on your business, not just in your business." - Crista Grasso Click to Tweet
Innovation: Creating space for innovation is also critical when you want to scale your business. This is something that the large multi-billion dollar businesses that I consult with do incredibly well. They create protected space and investment for innovation so they are always staying ahead of their customers needs, remaining market leaders, and implementing things internally to improve efficiencies.
It is a gap I see in so many small businesses, but a total game changer for those who embrace it.
I think you should have minimally an hour planned every single week (longer is better!) where you focus on innovative work. I call this Innovation Hour inside the Lean Out Method. Create the space for ideation where you can very strategically look to the future and think about where your business is going and what your clients are going to need next that maybe they don't even know they need yet.
The other thing that you can leverage an innovation hour for is exploring new ideas and tools.
How many times throughout a single day do we have bright shiny objects that come our way? “You've got to check out this new tool!”, “Are you on Clubhouse yet?”, etc. While evaluating if Clubhouse is a good fit for your business, or if that new tool will actually save you the time it promises, can be valuable to explore, they can also be distractions that pull your focus away from what's most important in the moment.
I recommend that you build what I call an Innovation Backlog, and anytime you get a new idea or hear everyone talking about that new tool or platform you just "have to be using", you can put it into your backlog.
Then when it's time for your weekly innovation hour, you can go into your innovation backlog and assess which one of the things there seems like it's the one that's most worth your time to dive into and see if this makes sense for the business.
If you have a team, it's valuable to give your team a minimum of an hour a week to focus on innovation as well.
Number four is what I call Optimization Hour inside of the Lean Out Method. Optimization is where you want to do two things:
1. Optimize What's Working: When you want to lean out your business, the best thing that you can do is get clear on what's actually working and double down on it and optimize it.
What you don't want to do is spend all of your time trying to fix what isn't working, which is what people's natural tendency is. If something isn't working, you want to lean out by eliminating it or completely re-imagining it.
When you have something that is working fairly well and you can incrementally improve it, you're usually going to get a far better return on investment and a far better increase in profitability than you are sinking a ton of time, money, and energy into something that isn't working.
You want to recognize what's working in your business, identify improvements and things that you can make to it to continue to get more and more value for your clients and more and more profit for your business out of it.
2. Systematize, Automate, Delegate, and Delete Everything You Can: You should regularly assess all of the different things that you do in your business and look for ways to systematize and automate them as much as possible.
Wherever it makes sense to, you also want to be delegating them and getting them off your plate. A good example of things that should not be on your plate are the things that are more 'run the business' related and things outside your zone of genius. You should have other people on your team doing the 'keep the lights on', 'run the business' type of activities.
You want to be spending your time in what I call more visionary leadership and doing the strategic work in the business. If you're doing a whole bunch of check-the-box type of administrative activities, those are things that you're going to want to automate and delegate off your plate as quickly as possible
Similar to innovation where I recommend you do at least an hour a week on innovation, I also recommend you do at least an hour a week on optimization. I recommend that your team dedicates time to optimization every week just as you do.
As a leader, as a business owner, as an entrepreneur, it is incredibly important that you are continuously focused on leveling up both yourself as the leader, as well as the business. You do this through self-development which is usually a blend of two things:
1. Skills: As you step into new levels, you're going to experience new situations and you're going to have to do things differently than you did before. This is going to require for you to learn new things and new skills. How to be an effective leader of a team is usually one that business owners face as they scale.
2. Mindset: A big piece of leveling up is also mindset. As you're taking your business to the six figure mark, and then the multi-six figure mark, and then seven, and then eight, you're going to have to continuously both learn new skills, more importantly, focus on that mindset and making sure that you're committed to pushing through and figuring things out when you run into some of those mindset blocks.
Every new level that you hit in business, you run into new mindset barriers and, as Gay Hendricks describes them, "upper limit problems". I don't think there's ever a point in time where we're not working through something mindset related.
6. Leading Your Team
When you have a team, a big piece of what you're going to be doing and what needs to be on your to-do list is the leadership of that team, setting the vision, and making sure that everybody is strategically aligned and knows what their focuses should be directionally on a week over week basis.
A big mistake I see new, and sometimes seasoned, entrepreneurs make is treating their role as one of a manager instead of a leader. Your role is not to micromanage. It is not to be in people's business.
You want to be setting the vision. You want to make sure everybody is clear what the outcomes are that you're looking for. You want to then give them the freedom and flexibility to go ahead and actually achieve those outcomes in the ways that they feel are best, as long as they are in alignment with the values of your business and the guiding principles that you have in place.
Something I see a lot of new leaders do is just stuck in micromanaging. They tell their team members specifically, explicitly, exactly what they must be doing, when they must be doing it, and how to do it.
That is not what I mean by spending your time leading. I'm talking much more about bringing people together, making sure everybody has that clarity of focus and vision and the outcomes that you're looking for that week. Being there to help them as issues arise and as blockers come up that's preventing them from getting those outcomes that they want.
To Summarize the Top 5 Things That Should Be on Your To Do List to Scale:
- Number one are things that produce profit immediately.
- Number two are things that are going to produce profit in the future.
- Number three is you need to have space to work ON your business and do innovation and strategic planning.
- Number four is you need to create space for optimization.
- Number five is self-development. This is leveling up both yourself and your business.
- The bonus one, number six, for those of you with teams, is leading your team and setting that vision and aligning everyone on outcomes and focus.
That is what should be on your to-do list. If you are looking and you have a whole lot of other things on your to-do list other than these things, I would start to analyze them and say, “Is this truly necessary?” for the business and for you as the business owner.
Some of those things may be able to fall into the optimization category where you can delegate them to someone else. Maybe you can automate or systematize them or maybe you can lean out and actually delete them out of your business.
What are the top 5 things on your list to scale your business?
by Crista Grasso
Crista Grasso is the go-to strategic planning expert for leading global businesses and online entrepreneurs when they want to scale. Known as the "Business Optimizer", Crista has the ability to quickly cut through noise and focus on optimizing the core things that will make the biggest impact to scale a business simply and sustainably. She specializes in helping businesses gain clarity on the most important things that will drive maximum value for their clients and maximum profits for their business. She is the creator of the Lean Out Method, 90 Day Lean Out Planner, and host of the Lean Out Your Business Podcast. She is also the founder and CVO of the Profitable Planner Co and Criscara Jewelry.