If you have been in business for more than 5 minutes, you will recognise that there are always challenges (problems, if you prefer!) in business. They normally fall into challenges around people, cash and time, and most business books and advisers will home in on these. We can spend increasing amounts of time troubleshooting these challenges but we never seem to get them to go away – and in fact as we grow we can get to the point where we cannot imagine being able to cope with our business being any bigger. We can get increasingly stressed, being pulled in many directions, to the point that it takes us away from our families and no longer seems fun to be a ‘business owner’.
This is because these problems are ‘symptoms’ and troubleshooting symptoms will only provide a temporary fix at best, just like taking paracetamol for a migraine may provide some relief against the pain but won’t cure the underlying cause and therefore won’t help to reduce the frequency of reoccurrences. In fact, as we grow our business, the frequency and severity of ‘migraines’ will only increase.
This book is not about short-term fixes and glib tricks and promises – it is about putting a system in place that will enable you to strengthen the underlying business (and you!) so that fewer symptoms emerge, and when they do (because they inevitably will), you will have a structure for the business (note: the business, not you) to deal with them.
Equally this is not some theoretical textbook, but rather a pragmatic step-by-step guide for any ambitious owner-manager looking to develop the kind of business that gives them the freedom and control they crave – rather than being controlled by their business.
The intent of this book is to become your ‘companion’ as you navigate through your ScaleUp Journey – a kind of ‘handbook’. We’d love it if you write notes in the margin, highlight sections and turn down the corners of pages you find particularly useful – and refer back to it regularly as your business evolves.
Why have I written this book and what makes me think I am qualified to do so? I founded BizSmart® in 2012 following an extensive business career including corporate senior management, an International Masters in Business (MBA) from INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France, strategic consultancy and building and exiting from multiple businesses – where I learned (and am still learning) how hard it can be to create a resilient, scalable and valuable business. Our mission is to create more ‘scaleups’ by inspiring owner-managers to have the desire and confidence to aim higher, and through providing the ‘system’ to enable them to do so.
What really inspired me to work with other business owners stemmed from my first experience of building a business. It was a business within another business and although I was a board director, I had limited equity in the business. With a small highly motivated and brilliantly cohesive team, we worked long hours over a two-year period building a successful business and sourcing an acquirer for £6 million – only to walk away with little to show for it other than the experience.
I vowed to learn from that experience and make sure others didn’t fall into the same trap. Most of us only get one shot at building a business; it should be fun and rewarding and support our personal life. BizSmart® now helps owner-managers to create the kind of business that will ultimately give them the freedom they are looking for, whilst enjoying the journey along the way.
I don’t put myself forward as some business ‘guru’ and neither do I propose that I have all of the answers. What you won’t find in this book are overpromises and magic ‘tricks’ that will transform your business overnight. Whilst you may not find the answer to every challenge that you will come across on your journey, what you will find is an approach that will provide the framework for transitioning the stepping stones as you scale, enabling you to find your own answers to the challenges that you will face. The approach is based on mine and my team’s experiences of working with hundreds of business owners, and our practical experiences of applying our own and others’ thinking – bringing it all together in one proven ‘system’.
So this is the system we have developed over those years. We call it the Entrepreneurial ScaleUp System – or ESUS for short! – and Part 2 of the book follows this structure. Starting at the centre is something we call the Rhythm90, the main heartbeat of the business. The next ring are the 4 fundamental and widely referred to Pillars of Scaling Up that we need to get right as we navigate the different stepping stones of the ScaleUp Journey – Strategy, People, Execution and Cash.
The outer ring are the core things within each of these pillars that we need to get right in each in order to be able to scale successfully and overcome the challenges along the way. We explore each of these and provide a ‘checklist’ of things to consider and to work on over time – this is something that you can come back to every 90 days as part of your Business Rhythm to identify the next focus. We call this our ‘InFlight Checks’® – in flight because we have already taken off (this is not our pre-launch or pre-‘take off’ checks) and these are the regular checks that we need to do now that we are in flight as we navigate our ScaleUp Journey. You can download copies of this and other resources at www.esusgroup.co.uk. Readers of this book can trial our Smart90 software (which includes access to the InFlight Checks) for 90 days at no cost by using the code ESUS90.