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What Are the 6 Drivers for Business Growth?

Nobody starts a business expecting it to kick their butts and end in failure. No way! You’re in it because you’re passionate about an idea you believe will make the world better. And we’re guessing you’d push boulders uphill all day to see it succeed.

But if you’ve been in business for more than a minute, you know that to grow your business—not just get by—you’ve got to work hard and smart. You need a plan for business growth that really works. That’s what the EntreLeadership System is—a road map Dave Ramsey and the EntreLeadership team developed based on a few decades of coaching small businesses and Ramsey Solutions’ own history of growing from a card table in Dave’s living room into a national brand. The 6 Drivers of Business are one part of the system—the part you focus on to drive your business forward.

The 6 Drivers of Business

Curious what each driver is? We’ll jump into the details in just a minute, but let’s start with a quick rundown of them:

  1. Personal
  2. Purpose
  3. People
  4. Plan
  5. Product
  6. Profit

How the Drivers Work With the Stages of Business

The other part of the EntreLeadership System is the five Stages of Business. Businesses move through five stages—from Treadmill Operator to Legacy Builder—by working the six drivers.

Here’s how it works: Think of drivers as the things you need to do to make progress and stages as the result of working the drivers. For example, if you wanted to drop 20 pounds, two drivers could be diet and exercise and the stages would be the smaller goals you hit on the scale along the way. They show your progress.

As you focus on the stages and drivers in your business, remember two important details:

  1. You’ll work on every driver in every stage, but you’ll need to give certain drivers a little more attention to solve your key problems. For example, Pathfinders lack clear direction, so if that’s your stage, you’ll focus on the Purpose driver until you’ve clarified your mission, vision and values.
  2. If you skip one driver, eventually you’ll get stuck and need to backtrack. What do we mean? Say you give so much attention to launching your product and turning profit that you blow over developing a team to manage the growth. Before long, you’ll have to circle back to the People driver. Otherwise, you won’t have teams in place to produce more of your product and serve your customers with excellence.

Pro Tip: Want to know which stage of business you’re in and what challenges to overcome next? Take the free Stages of Businesses Assessment. Then you’ll be ready to use the 6 Drivers of Business to propel you forward.

How the 6 Drivers Affect Business Growth

Ready to explore the drivers now? Let’s get moving.

1. Personal - You’re the problem. You’re the solution.

In the Personal driver, you’ll focus on:

Organizations are never limited by opportunity. They’re limited by their leader. That’s bad news if you refuse to change, but it’s freaking fantastic news if you’re hungry to grow! No matter how great your product idea and plan are or how many rock stars you have on your team, your business will never grow beyond your capacity to lead it. That’s why your personal growth is the first driver you have to master.

Entrepreneur Charlie “Tremendous” Jones said, “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” So stretch yourself to meet new people and read all kinds of books to take new ground. Not a reader? That’s okay. Listen to audiobooks and podcasts, and make time at least once a year to go to a world-class leadership conference.

“If you’re not growing, don’t expect your business to.” — Dave Ramsey

2. Purpose - Business is bigger than the bottom line.

In the Purpose driver, you’ll focus on:

The second most important step for business growth is knowing your purpose. If you’re just working to make more money, you’re not going to last. Don’t get us wrong—making money is great! Make a bunch of it. Just don’t be all about money. Aim your work at being generous and changing lives.

When you live for a mission and vision bigger than yourself, you feel better, stronger and more connected to others. Your team members are also more satisfied and productive when they’re doing work that matters.

“Business is bigger than the bottom line. If you’re just working for money, you’re not going to last.” — Dave Ramsey

3. People - Building a unified team is the key to winning in business.

In the People driver, you’ll focus on:

Your people are your biggest blessing, biggest problem and probably biggest expense. So once the Personal and Purpose drivers are sorted, pay extra attention to this driver. You’ve got to get it right.

What do we mean by right?

Work to attract thoroughbreds—people who are strong, steady and focused. But not just thoroughbreds—unified thoroughbreds. You don’t want a team of hotshots all going different directions and causing all kinds of chaos. Develop unified team members, and they’ll be an unstoppable force. While you’re at it, you’ve got to keep the donkeys (aka the crazies) out. They frustrate the rest of the team and their bad work habits ruin company culture.

“You can’t win the Kentucky Derby with donkeys, and you can’t grow your business with them either. You need thoroughbreds.” — Dave Ramsey

4. Plan - Winning is an intentional act. It doesn’t happen by accident.

In the Plan driver, you’ll focus on:

  • Strategic planning
  • Growing and scaling your business
  • Succession planning
  • Buying and selling a business (in some cases)

Early on in business, everything’s on fire and you’re neck-deep in operations. We get it. You’ve got to produce and make money now to stay afloat. But you can’t just be tactical and reactive forever. You’ve got to get your head out of your ops if you’re going to see real business growth. It’s the only way to identify your desired future—and the direction you want your business to go—so you can lead your team toward it.

Leaders without a small-business growth strategy (aka a plan) are like people who shoot arrows in the air and pray they hit a bull’s-eye. But they don’t realize that what Zig Ziglar said is true: “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time. A plan, however, moves you from dreaming about making an impact to doing it.

Pro Tip: Get a strategic planning session on your calendar with your key leaders. You’ll come up with your desired future and then be ready to track your progress as you work toward it. Once you see the ROI that comes from planning, you’ll realize you can’t afford to skip it.

“No one wins the Super Bowl by accident. You need a freaking plan.” — Dave Ramsey 

5. Product - Deliver excellence, and the profits will take care of themselves.

In the Product driver, you’ll focus on:

If you don’t have a firm foundation, you won’t see sales roll in the way you thought—or they might for a second, but you won’t be able to sustain them. Then you’ll end up back at the starting line trying to figure out what went wrong.

Delivering an excellent product hinges on nailing the other drivers first. Why? Because as the marketplace tells you what’s working and what’s not, you’ll already be listening and have the people and systems in place to respond. You’ll design awesome products the marketplace needs, clearly communicate their value, and serve your customers with integrity.

“Set the tone for excellence in every driver, and it will naturally pour into your product.” — Dave Ramsey

6. Profit - Profits fuel your purpose.

In the Profit driver, you’ll focus on:

Now you’re on fire! When you run your business well, profit follows. And that profit puts gas in the tank so you can level up through the five Stages of Business and do even more good. As Dave often says, if you help enough people, you don’t have to worry about profit. You’ll get certificates of appreciation with presidents’ faces on them.

But here’s the thing: The more money you make, the more it magnifies your character. No matter what stage your business is in, make sure you never value profit over people, purpose or your commitment to excellence in your business. So steward your money well and be careful of wrong moves that could trip you up.

Related article: 4 Small-Business Challenges Every Leader Faces (and How to Overcome Them)

“To move through the Stages of Business, you need to work all 6 Drivers of Business. If you skip one, you will stall.” — Dave Ramsey

Keep the Wheel Spinning

Once you make it to the Profit driver, don’t hit the brakes. Start right back at the Personal driver and keep getting better. Then your purpose will get richer and you’ll attract more thoroughbreds to your mission. Before you know it, your systems and processes will become more sophisticated, and your products will be bigger and better than ever. And the best part is, you’ll be making more profits so you can do more good.

What’s Next: Explore the Full EntreLeadership System

Following EntreLeadership’s 6 Drivers of Business will help you grow your business—and avoid a lot of mistakes and wasted time.

Learn how the drivers and stages combine in the complete EntreLeadership System for business growth.

Explore the System

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Ramsey Solutions

About the author


Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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