Business Growth and What is the “Next Level?”

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When entrepreneurs talk about business growth they typically speak in terms of levels. In other words, “I want to take my business to the next level.” However, since there isn’t a “guide to the levels in business” it tends to mean different things to different people.

For some it might mean a higher revenue level, for others it’s a new territory or another location, and still others see it as an additional product or service. There are several similarities in the things required to do all of the above, but the one thing that stands out for me is that the business growth will require great people and great leadership!

Four Levels of Business Growth

I believe there are four specific levels of business growth, all revolving around people and the increased leadership required:

  1. Solopreneur – By definition, a solopreneur is a business owner who works and runs their business alone. It’s where most businesses begin.
  2. The leader of a team – At this level you now have people working for you, doing some of the functions. You are the leader of the entire business and everyone looks to you for direction, guidance, and feedback.
  3. A leader of leaders – As you’ve grown you now have some middle management who oversees and directs employees. Your role is changing and now you need to oversee this new level of leadership. You also need to be the visionary, constantly sharing the big picture.
  4. Investor / removed owner – You’ve finally arrived where many people dreamed of being when they started their business. It’s no longer necessary for you to report to work every day … you’re no longer involved in the day to day operations of the business.

This isn’t to say that you’re always going to be in just one level at a time. It is possible that segments of your business could be at different levels at the same time. For example:

  • maybe you have an operations manager who oversees the production of your product or service {level 3},
  • but you’re still the sales manager {level 2}, and
  • you’re also fulfilling a sales role {level 1}.

If you think along the lines of the four levels above, then you’d probably be working on an entirely different set of skills and processes.

Here’s a list of some of the key things I believe you need to work on at each level.

Solopreneur

  • Getting clear on your vision for the business and doing annual/quarterly planning
  • Educating yourself and learning
  • Beginning to create and refine your processes

The Leader of a Team

  • Creating job descriptions with roles, responsibilities, and results
  • Implementing an annual/quarterly process for planning with all team members
  • Documentation of all core processes in your business
  • Creating and documenting the desired culture for your business
  • Development of onboarding and training processes for team members
  • Establishment of individual and team meetings with a consistent frequency, agenda, and follow-up

A Leader of Leaders

  • Establishment of leadership meetings with a consistent frequency, agenda, and follow-up
  • Implementation of annual and quarterly planning with your leadership team
  • Creating a communication structure for information to flow up and down the organization
  • Development of periodic reporting that tracks key performance indicators {KPI} and the achievement of goals
  • Design of incentive compensation programs that reward the desired behaviors and results

Investor

  • Re-evaluate your personal vision, goals, and plan for what you’re going to do personally
  • Establishment of a Board of Advisors/Directors, a meeting schedule, and agenda
  • Revise and add to the periodic reporting process

The other thing that needs to be worked on in all of these levels is your mindset. The mental adjustments you need to make as you go from doing everything to trusting employees, to trusting your leadership team, and finally to be able to totally let go!

Honestly, this is the hardest challenge I see in business. The owner becomes the bottleneck, preventing the business from going to the next level because they haven’t worked on themselves!

The Bottom Line:

Whatever business growth might mean to you, a key component is going to be your people and your leadership. Think about your business and what you should be doing to take just one area of it to the next level … then post what you’re committing to do below in the comments section.

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