What I wish I knew about scaling a billion dollar business

Scaling a business is tough. There’s one piece of advice I wish I knew as the COO and CFO of a business we grew to over a $1b in sales.

The leader has many responsibilities: from tactical to motivational. However, they have one responsibility overlooked 99% of the time.

It’s the leader’s job to normalize the journey for everyone else.

It’s embarrassingly simple, which is why most leaders ignore it. It would have made my journey exponentially easier.

Let me explain with an analogy.

A Scaling Analogy

Pretend you are climbing Mt. Everest. When you get to 23,000 feet, no one told you that you needed oxygen to finish the journey. You start to panic and focus only on getting off the Mountain alive.

Contrast that to being thoroughly prepared and educated about the difficulties ahead. You knew that at 23,000 feet you would need oxygen and you needed it to finish the journey. At 23,000 feet, everyone on the journey celebrates because it meant they were closer to the top.

It’s no different leading a team in a business that wants to scale. How much would your leadership (and results) improve if you were able to get in front of the problems? Even better, how would it look if you could predict them?

It’s tough to celebrate the difficulties in business, but acknowledging issues will arise with scale is crucial to scaling.

Sherpas know this

Sherpas on Everest understand this simple fact:
If you can change the language, you can change the conversation. If you change the conversation, you can change the outcomes.

In business, it’s the difference between everyone expecting difficulties with scale and being surprised when issues happen. I promise you, if you grow your business, you will grow yourself into problems.

You will have the wrong person in a critical position. You will have a great employee that didn’t scale with the business. You will have problems keeping signal strength throughout the organization.

It’s a fact.

It’s the leader’s job to prepare the team for the journey ahead. That’s the often difference between successfully reaching the top and struggling with scale.

Charles Thornburg, CEO of Civitas Learning, explains it perfectly:

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