13 Things You Should Give Up If You Want to Scale Your Business
Often, getting back your momentum means letting go of what’s weighing you down
A business coach once taught me the definition of failure:
“If you’re not embarrassed by who you were 12 months ago, you didn’t learn enough.” — Alain de Botton
Getting your business to the next level requires an incredible amount of courage. There are new lessons to learn, new opportunities to capture, and new problems to solve. More importantly, there are things that you need to “give up” to succeed.
Newton’s third law of motion states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is true in motion, but it also plays a role in your own life. In Dr. Benjamin Hardy’s iconic book “Willpower Doesn’t Work,” he says, “Everything in your life is energy, and thus creates an equal and opposite reaction. For example, if you have huge amounts of clothes overflowing from your closet, this costs you a large amount of physical space. However, it also costs you a lot of mental and emotional space to sort through it each morning.”
He says that to gain momentum in your life, you have to give up on certain things.
- Physical things (like laundry)
- Mental things (like suppressed emotions)
In your business, there are things that you need to let go of to reach the next level. Some of the things that you learned as a startup and as the company’s sole provider will hold you back as you scale your company.
Luckily, you’ve done this in the past.
When you went to college, you had to give up habits/skills that served you in high school.
When you got married, you had to give up habits/skills that served you when you were single.
When you started your company, you had to give up habits/skills that served you when you were a paid employee.
All of these things not only shaped you into the person you are today, but they also provided the rocket fuel you needed to succeed. Had you not been willing to “give up” certain things, you would have limited your opportunities, your income, and your happiness.
You’ve done this before, and you can do it again.
You got this.
1. Give Up on Ignoring Past Success
“The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see.” — Winston Churchill
As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to ignore past success. Stupid.
Being positive doesn’t just make you better — it makes everyone around you better. When you begin your meetings and your days by focusing on past success, you and your employees feel an immediate boost of confidence.
Confidence isn’t passively felt. It’s built, and you build it by acknowledging past success.
2. Give Up on Figuring Out the “How”
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” — Mother Teresa
Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy are currently writing a book titled “Who, Not How.” Dan, who has coached over 20,000 entrepreneurs states, “Millionaires ask themselves ‘How?’, Billionaires ask themselves ‘Who?’”
To gain initial traction with your business, you needed to become a rugged individualist. You relied heavily on your ability to figure out the “how” and (in most cases) go and do it yourself. As you’ve brought on new employees, they likely still look to you as the person who tells them “how” to do their job.
For your next stage of growth, you need to follow Dan’s advice. You need to give up on being the person who figures out the “hows.” Instead, become an expert at discovering the right “who’s” to figure out the “hows.”
3. Give Up on Working Alone
“Connect the dots between individual roles and the goals of the organization. When people see that connection, they get a lot of energy out of work. They feel the importance, dignity, and meaning in their job.” — Ken and Scott Blanchard
The tendency with growth is for positions and projects to become “siloed.” As you grow your company, your job will be to ensure that this doesn’t happen. When you don’t know the big picture of what’s going on, you can’t operate at peak productivity. Your employees are the same.
Don’t let people solve problems alone.
Don’t let people work without communication.
4. Give Up on Motivating Your Employees With Things That Motivate You
“When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.” — Simon Sinek
As a business owner, you think differently than your employees. Over time, the more financially invested you’ve become in your business, the more you’ve sought a return.
Your employees are different. They haven’t put their money down to ensure your company’s success. Focus on internal motivators to help them become emotionally invested.
5. Give Up on Having Employees Help You With Your Goals
“Mentorship is about helping them achieve their goals, not about you achieving yours. Yours will happen as a byproduct.” –Benjamin Hardy
One of the most significant contributing factors to your success up to this point has been your ability to get other people invested and engaged in your goals.
To experience growth in your company, you’ll need to give up thinking of them as “your goals.”
Clearly articulate the results your employees need to achieve, and then help them accomplish their goals.
6. Give Up on Being Reactive
“Heroes are those who can somehow resist the power of the situation and act out of noble motives, or behave in ways that do not demean others when they easily can.” — Philip Zimbardo
The moment you start to feel desperate — because of a crisis at work or home — you will forget everything that you’ve learned from books and mentors, and you’ll begin relying on instinct. Your employees do this as well.
The problem is that you developed your instincts from facing issues as a startup, not as an established business. While past solutions got you through the startup stage, they can cripple your ability to lead your company as you scale. You’ll need to “resist the power of the situation” for your employees to succeed.
7. Give Up on Feeling Alone
“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” — Henry David Thoreau
As you grow and take on an increasing weight of both accountability and responsibility, there’s a tendency for entrepreneurs to feel alone. Entrepreneurs at your stage of growth are rare, and it can become easy to get swept up in the “loneliness of leadership.”
8. Give Up on Suspicion
“The moment there is suspicion about a person’s motives, everything he does becomes tainted.” — Mahatma Gandhi
It’s natural to be suspicious of others’ motives, especially when you’re in a leadership position. This tendency will taint your opportunities to mentor your employees. As a leader, you achieve far more by judging other people’s behaviors.
If you assume that others are working out of ulterior motives, they will do the same to you. It’s inspiring when you teach your employees about vision and motives, but this should not be done to manipulate a specific behavior. When there’s a problem, your employees will appreciate directness and honesty.
9. Give Up on Using Money as a Motivator
“Paychecks can’t buy passion.” — Brad Federman
Using money as a motivator can be tricky. According to Daniel Pink’s book, “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,” money works as an effective motivator for routine or mechanical tasks. However, as soon as the job requires creativity or thought, money has an adverse effect.
The Federal Reserve Bank Of Boston did a study in which they examined the effect of a cash bonus incentive for creativity. They concluded, “In eight of the nine tasks we examined across the three experiments, higher incentives led to worse performance.”
10. Give Up on Using Others as Tools
“We choose to see others either as people like ourselves or as objects. They either count like we do or they don’t.” — The Arbinger Institute
During the startup phase, most entrepreneurs are the sole providers for their company. The first employees you bring on are generally to maximize your ability to provide quality service — not to replace you as the provider. They’re tools in your toolbelt and are doing their job well by maximizing your productivity.
Many would argue that this is a cynical way to look at hiring new employees, but it’s true. Their job description is evidence of this. By caring for the tools in your toolbelt — making sure that they are polished, sharpened, and performing their job correctly — you can significantly increase your productivity and their satisfaction.
At the next stage, your ability to grow depends mainly on your ability to replace and replicate yourself. New employees that you bring on are no longer “tools” but providers. You may be tempted to treat your providers the same way that you treated your employees during the startup phase. Don’t. You need to hold your providers to a higher level of accountability and ownership for what they produce.
11. Give Up on a Fixed-Mindset
“The skills that got you out of Egypt aren’t the same skills that will get you to the promised land.” — Dan Sullivan
To get from where you are now to where you want to be, you’ll need to abandon a fixed-mindset. According to Carol Dweck, the world’s leading expert in motivation, “In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits.”
When you were a startup, you had to abandon a fixed-mindset to grow. Now that you’re moving to the next level of profitability, you’ll have to do so again. You may have heard it this way, “What got you here won’t get you there.”
You have to give up a fixed-mindset every time you want to take your life and your business to the next level.
12. Give Up on Making Assumptions
“If others tell us something we make assumptions, and if they don’t tell us something we make assumptions to fulfill our need to know and to replace the need to communicate… We make all sorts of assumptions because we don’t have the courage to ask questions.” — Miguel Ruiz
In most companies, people are penalized when they acknowledge their shortcomings and mistakes. As a result, employees lose the courage to ask questions when they don’t clearly understand a task given to them.
In your company, the opposite should be true. Complete openness is the first step to innovation. You can encourage your employees to be open about things that are hard, annoying, lame, or frustrating, instead of letting them assume that those things are the norm. As a company, you can continuously innovate to eliminate those things.
13. Give Up on a Defense Budget
“Direct your anger towards problems — not people. Focus your energies on answers — not excuses” — William Ward
Defense Budget is a term that I picked up from Strategic Coach. It refers to the time and energy that you spend thinking and worrying about how to defend yourself at work. By eliminating your defense budget, you’ll set the tone and culture of your business. You’ll free up your time and energy to achieve results, collaborate, and create solutions.
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