Ever heard of an ultramarathon? It’s longer than a regular marathon (26.2 miles)—sometimes two or three times as long. Now, imagine you recently became a jogger. There’s a lot of work, training and sweat standing between your first jog and your first ultramarathon—like, a lot—but getting to that level is 100% possible. Right? You just need a good plan and perseverance. Growing a successful business is the same way.
A whole lot goes into running your own business. The seemingly endless hustle can often leave business owners burnt out, discouraged and disconnected from the dream that got them started in the first place. It can be overwhelming. But you can grow a successful business that lasts and have a blast doing it—you just need a clear path and a clear plan.
Without those things, it can feel like the odds are stacked against you: For every business that opens, roughly one business shuts down.1 That trend has held year after year—in good and bad economic conditions. With limited time, energy and resources, you have to make progress that will benefit your business long term. But how and where do you start?
The EntreLeadership Framework
First, you start with the person in your mirror. Your education, character, capacity, ability and vision are limiting your company. But here’s the good news: If you’re the problem, you’re also the solution. You have the power to change and grow.
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And we’ve seen that businesses grow in stages. The EntreLeadership Framework is a plan built on the principles our founder, Dave Ramsey, has used to win in business for almost 30 years. It helps business owners move their businesses forward, faster.
To build a business that thrives and leaves a legacy, every business owner must push through five critical stages:
- Treadmill Operator
- Peak Performer
- Legacy Builder
Stage One: Treadmill Operator
Unless they inherited or bought a company, most leaders start in the Treadmill Operator stage. They are huffing and puffing day after day, just trying to keep their business open one stride at a time. They’re the Chief Everything Officer. From social media marketing to installing kitchen sinks, they do whatever it takes to get the job done. And you know what? This is an exhilarating place to be for a season! But that’s exactly what it should be—a season. This isn’t a stage you want to camp out in forever, because honestly, it will wear you out and eventually take you down. If you want to lead a business that thrives, you can’t just own a job. You have to stop letting your business run you and start running your business with your goals in mind.
Stage Two: Pathfinder
The key to moving to the next stage, Pathfinder, is to create time to be more strategic and work on your business—not just in it. In this stage, the leader stops spending 100% of their time focusing on tasks, and they start making some space to focus on themselves as a leader and on their strategy for their business. In the Pathfinder stage, you know what direction you want to move your business in, but you still need to work on getting consistent results.
Stage Three: Trailblazer
As a Trailblazer, the fundamentals of a high-powered and healthy organization—like core values, long-term goals, and a meaningful mission—are in place, and you’re getting consistent results. And this is a big shift! But you need a strong team and a winning strategy to rise to the top of your industry. At this stage, you need to get the team to own their roles with excellence to achieve substantial growth. You need to optimize what you’ve already got to get even greater results.
Stage Four: Peak Performer
In this stage, the owner isn’t the only one moving this thing forward—the entire company is thinking about how to serve people, grow profits, and take performance to the next level. As the business continues to grow, the owner empowers a deep bench of leaders to carry out the mission, vision and strategy of the business. But no matter how successful you are, you still have to keep fighting for your business. And as your company grows, so do your challenges. You need to learn how to sustain success and set your business up for the long run.
Stage Five: Legacy Builder
If you’re a Legacy Builder, you have a lot to be proud of! At the Legacy Builder stage, a business owner is preparing for transition and succession (a plan that will keep the company in good hands when they step down). Your greatest challenge is to ready the team and equip them to carry on the work you started with just as much drive, passion and energy.
How to Move Your Business Forward
So how do you take your business from one stage to the next? The truth is, there’s no quick fix—there’s no such thing as an “overnight success.” It takes time, consistency and hard work. But there are six core areas that are crucial to creating positive momentum—what we call the Six Drivers of Success. When you focus on improving each of these areas, it drives your business forward.
- Personal: You’re the problem, but you’re also the solution.
Everything rises and falls on leadership. John Maxwell describes this as “The Leadership Lid.” Your abilities are the greatest limiting factor to your company. So you have to be willing to ask yourself every day, “Am I growing to be the leader my business needs to be in order to stay successful?”
- Purpose: Your business should exist to make an impact that’s bigger than just your bottom line.
Purpose is critical to the success of a business. Without a destination, you can’t have direction. Laying out your purpose (your vision and mission) gives your team something to work toward together and will help you reach your goals for your business.
- People: Building a unified team is the key to winning in business.
Your team is your greatest money-making asset. A healthy workplace culture is essential to building a team that wins together.
- Plan: Winning is an intentional act and it doesn’t happen by accident.
Confusion and lack of clarity will slow your business down. But you can accomplish anything with a bit of grit and a good plan. Eliminate confusion with a clear strategy for achieving your business goals.
- Product: Deliver excellence and the profits will take care of themselves.
These days, trust is the most valuable commodity traded between customers and businesses—and a decent product or service isn’t enough to get it, much less keep it. Turn buyers into raving fans with a customer experience that goes above and beyond to serve them.
- Profit: Profits fuel your purpose.
You have to know your numbers to succeed in business. And more often than not, those who don’t follow commonsense money principles leave themselves and their business vulnerable to the whims of their competitors, every little ripple in the marketplace, and big shifts in the economy. Get on top of finances so that you can invest in the future of your business.
The less time you spend trying to figure out what the next best step is, the more time you can spend actually making progress toward your goals. The good news is, you don’t have to figure that out on your own. Take our Business Health Assessment to find out which of these six drivers—Personal, Purpose, People, Plan, Product or Profit—needs your time and energy the most right now. You’ll move from Treadmill Operator to Legacy Builder if you consistently work put in the work, one step at a time.
And do you know what the reward is for being really good at solving problems? Bigger problems—with more zeros on the end! It’s true. The hard work it takes to grow a business never ends. But for EntreLeaders, the journey becomes more and more fun.