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Sweet And Spicy Of Fast Growth
We’re a 100-plus employee and five-time Inc. 5000 company. That means year-after-year for the past decade-plus, our company’s growing faster than all eighteen million US companies. We’ve done it with a number of product lines and a number of different employees. We’ve done it with two or three different levels of management. Over time, I remember the management that was in place when we had between zero and 60 websites. I can see them on a photograph.
There was a period of time where we had 100 to 700, 800 websites and I can physically see a different website photo with all of those managers. Right now, we’re in the thousands. We put a State of the Union video on our website under the press page of IncomeStore.com. It’s a 50-minute video that shares the shift in management and what exactly we’re doing. Some of the techniques, winning move and most importantly, the caliber of the new layer of management we put in place and why. I want to give some insight into some things that have happened in the past couple of years.
If you want to grow fast, you’ll appreciate this little story and the lesson that’s in here. We went through one of the most excruciatingly painful lessons that have some seeds of incredible blessing, victory, and growth in revenue. A few years ago, we were growing quickly and had an interesting product set. We shifted from managing websites where we’re the actual authority in the niche. We would write the content, we would steer the ship, and we would figure out the keyword silo. Somebody of tremendous stature in their space would end up writing the content like writing a book. We launched some huge websites. A couple of our sites, one in particular, is the most dominant website in its space worldwide. We’re very proud of that.
We shifted the model into a model in which we no longer allow the website partner or what we call the FSO, Future Site Owner, to write the content. We wanted to have more control. We wanted to be able to reach a deeper and wider market. We wanted to be able to serve not just someone that could write a book, we wanted to serve anybody. We shifted the model. We quickly got into hundreds and hundreds of website management. For that, you need a very specific type of person managing each division. They’ve got to think on their feet, be a manager and a doer, and have great communication skills. They’ve got to be great people. I remember interviewing this level of management and I asked every one of them the same leading or ending question, which is, “Outside of anything related to family or relationship, what is your greatest accomplishment to date?”
I remember the answers of each and every person in the previous layer of management. I remember getting goosebumps as I always do when I know I’m talking to somebody that is a winner. Here’s what’s awesome and powerful about this lesson. Everybody and every company reach their level of incompetence. No matter where you sit now, I can almost assure you, you’ve reached your level of incompetence because had you not, you’d be much bigger and growing much faster than you are now. If you own your own company, you’re building your own ladder. The only thing that’s ever stopped our company and me was when we collectively reached our level of incompetence.
Everybody and every company reach their level of incompetence. Click To Tweet
It’s usually noticeable by a stolen revenue, a stolen communication, and a complete change or difference in opinion to a core level where you can see there’s a political divide. I don’t mean politics in the form of Republican and Democrat, I mean politics in the form of beliefs inside a company. In the last few years, it’s been a slow shift in beliefs and mindset. We completed a new level of management. It’s a different type of thinking and a different mindset. It’s a deeper mindset in the sense that the folks that have come in have seen more and been around longer. They’re seasoned and they have much more gray hair. The average age of the previous managerial realm was upper 30s, early 40s.
It’s fair to say that the current realm is mid-50s to late 60s, so it’s a different vision. Here’s what’s powerful about understanding where your company’s at, understanding where the managerial realm is in IQ and EQ. IQ is the intellectual stamina of the group and physically left-brain. How smart are they? EQ, which is the more dominant in running a business, is the emotional quotient. How do you get along with people? How risk averse are you? The more IQ, the less risk averse. The more EQ, the more risk averse, the more times they’ll split test, Beta test and try things. The reality is we needed a shift from hard IQ to a bent towards EQ and in doing so, we learned some sizable lesson.
One lesson we’re guesstimating is it will cost us somewhere in the $1 million to $5 million range. I went out with Kerri, my wife, and found someone to do a piece of marketing. When I bumped into this person, it turned out they had done some work for us in past years and had explosive results. When I flew out there with my wife, we did meetings and realized their team was huge. They were doing some work for some of the biggest companies out there and they were truly killing it. The point of the meeting face-to-face was about scale, “Can you scale? Can you keep up with us?” They wanted the account so they would sell us hard on, of course, they can scale.
After we did the shift in management, because some of these people came in with some gray hair, they had been around the block a little bit. Ironically, the company that we had contracted with about a year before turned out that they had this person. In doing so, we later found out that there was a reason to part friends with this firm. They shared with me some of their results of which I then put this company under a microscope and found out, “Had I waited around, I would have seen these results. Luckily, for me, I listened to some of this new management. I lifted the lid a little bit stronger and faster.” We’ve got some results we would have found later or sooner. We saved our company somewhere in there around $2 million to $4 million.
We do believe we’re going to have to make a pivot. What they were doing was fine. It was growing us 2% to 10% annually but unfortunately, they were contracted to grow us in the hopes of 2% to 10% quarterly, if not even monthly. It’s painful to say that I could force cast out. We could have grown so much faster had they been able to scale with us. The reason that they weren’t asked to leave these previous companies, they couldn’t scale fast enough then. It turns out that they couldn’t scale fast enough for us.
What is the lesson? I remember writing this up in an email to myself and sent this to a couple of my mentors. I said, ͞What’s funny is the same reason that Steve Jobs was fired from his own company to only later be brought back in. The same reasons will be the reason why Apple is what it is now. We, personally, went through a very expensive lesson in exactly the same way. One of my personal blind spots is I use a methodology of hiring and managing by a trust first and then allow them to do what they were brought in to do managerial style. It is definitely what got us here now. It’s definitely the managerial style that allowed us to grow so quickly and continue to grow. However, there’s a danger with this style of trust and allow them to do what they were brought in to do, could have possibly cost us $4 million in future and further growth than the growth we are already receiving.
We were growing but we weren’t growing anywhere near what we could have, so we made a pivot with this company. My method of trust allowed them to grow. It works and it works so well when it’s managed with the proper tools. You still have to envelope or put the guardrails up. You just don’t let these people run free. It’s because I trusted and allowed this new senior manager to do what they were brought in to do, which is evaluate tighter, stronger and faster than I’ve ever used to doing and never currently capable of doing.
It’s possible if we benchmark these people. They are some of the highest paid people in our company by far. I trusted this person. I agreed to pay them X amount of dollars to come in, turn the screws, vet, and confirm. Lo and behold, they spotted in a different division that I was trusting and allowing them to do what they were brought in to do. He brought it to my attention and said, ͞You’re trusting this person too much. They have way too much of a blanket to run with and way too big of a budget. What would you like to do? I said, “What do you recommend?” He goes, “I would stop them completely and I would move in a completely different direction of another area I have previously vetted over the past five to ten years.”
If you heard my previous episode about vetting growth models, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. We shifted immediately. We went into a purely vetted growth model. It’s been instantly successful, growing faster and more scalable than the previous enterprise. What is the takeaway? If you’re in phase one, which is a one to ten-person company where everybody’s a manager and a doer, take stock of them. If you’re in phase two, the ten to 100-employee range where you’re much less of a doer but you’re still doing, you’re now doing that tightrope of management, possibly even bringing in one or two consultants. You’re walking that rope at all times and still have some mentorship. If you’re in the hundred to a thousand-person phase employees where you’re in management, seldom doing, and spending much more time thinking than doing, it doesn’t matter what phase you’re in. You can go in a much deeper way.
Inspect exactly what you’re managing. See if your growth models are truly vetted, and then ask yourself, “Are you personally at your level of incompetence? Do you need to learn and grow more in a certain area? Could you be overseeing management? Could you be overseeing a division? Could you be overseeing and managing yourself? Have you bumped into that level of incompetence? Is your management team or one of them at their level of incompetence like how we spotted ours was? I certainly was and I was part of it. I went out and got much more mentorship, personally. “Is it time for a completely new level of management?” You don’t necessarily have to swap them out. You don’t have to do that, you could just bring in new.
Inspect what you're managing. See if your growth models are truly vetted. Ask yourself, Are you personally at your level of incompetence? Click To Tweet
You could completely rebuild your org chart. The point of this lesson is imagine a baseball. It wants to grow to the size of a softball. Then it wants to grow to the size of a beachball or a basketball. If it grows and you pump air into it, the only way it can grow is if it cracked on the outside. You can’t physically expand it. For instance, take a balloon. It’s continually cracking and expanding. Another example is how a brand-new baby’s head is growing bigger and bigger It’s definitely cracking and filling in those cracks with new skull until it gets to be the point of an adult, then it hardens.
That’s an awesome analogy of the management system of a business. It’s cracking and you’re filling in the cracks with another manager. It grows and cracks again, you fill it in with another manager or you grow a manager from part of your team and send them out to management or mentorship school. The lessons learned in fast growth are, ͞Has your management hit their level of incompetence? If so, I can assure you that’s costing you three to six months in annual gross revenues.͟ If you’re a one-man show, ten-man show and reading this, I’m talking to you. Is it time for you to expand yourself, to get in pain, crack yourself, and fill in that crack with someone of competence so you can grow faster? Hope this helps.