Owning your own business can be brutal! You’re constantly faced with numerous highs and lows. And, if we’re being brutally honest with ourselves, there are probably more lows than we initially anticipated. And yet, this is a topic, business owners don’t usually talk about. Today, the Paperless Movement would like to break down some of these barriers for you, we’re going to pull back the veil – rip off the bandaid if you were – and examine the ‘failures’ people experience when running a business. Ultimately, how can we – as Will Smith would say – “failed forward!”
Tom Solid sits down to chat with one of our Partner Experts, Dr. Tamer Shahin. He has advised governments, mentored corporate titans, been a multi-national CEO, and taught at universities all around the world. He has grown several multi-million dollar businesses, one of which he scaled up to be a 100 million dollar company, he has published for Forbes, and delivered compelling TEDx talks. Tamer is clearly at the top of his game but, despite being incredibly successful, there was a time he lost it ALL – he lost everything in less than 30 days!
Yes, granted, over time he built himself up again. But his experience has led him to totally re-think how companies, especially entrepreneurs conduct their business. Tamer shares invaluable insights, appropriate to all business sizes. Whatever stage your business venture is at, listen closely, these are some incredibly wise words, and they are not to be missed!
Overcoming a Catastrophic $100 Million Failure
The CEO Entrepreneur himself describes his business crash as a “catastrophic failure.” But, explains to Tom how his huge catastrophic business failure, has made him a stronger, wiser, and better person. At the Paperless Movement, we constantly advocate sharing your journey and the stories you’ve experienced with others so that your shortcomings cease to harbor control over you, and in turn, you wind up empowering those around you with knowledge and insight. We feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to have such an honest chat with Tamer, giving you the opportunity to learn and avoid making the same mistakes.
There are benefits to having business mentors, but in my experience, many have been short-changed with coaches offering a ‘3-step formula’ or the ‘blueprint’ for a successful business.Tamer Shahin
Instead, Tamer explains how businesses are all unique. Similarly, each stage of growth is a unique stage of development, and with so many variables, having a “get-rich-quick” formula just doesn’t work. So, what does Tamer suggest for a business to succeed? He shares mindset shifts, strategies, and practical steps that we can adapt, and the importance of “starting now.” As Tom declares, if you want to learn how to efficiently scale your business, then Tamer is the person.
Dr. Shahin managed a national productivity program studying companies of all sizes and levels. He has seen what works and what doesn’t, on a massive scale. The concept for his company, CEO Entrepreneur, came from Tamer’s desire to help other entrepreneurs succeed and avoid the mistakes of other businesses, as well as his own. Statistically, most start-ups fail, in fact, according to Wall Street Journal, 3 out of 4 venture-backed startups fail.
A successful business is so much more than; branding, marketing and just knowing your numbers!
Systems and how you implement them are so important to ALL the stages of your business growth.
When we adapt to having a more holistic approach to our own business – thinking with the CEO mindset of an entrepreneur – we see the importance of having a framework that includes strategies, systems, skillsets, and feedback loops.
When we manage both our systems and processes with our productivity – for whatever it is we are producing – they tend to grow in tandem with one another.
Tamer’s Approach: Your Business, Your System
Tamer’s philosophy is similar to that of ours in ICOR® Mastery. Similarly, he believes that systems and processes are vital to a business’s success, whatever stage you’re in on your business journey. These building blocks make it more of an efficient task when scaling up your business. Without systems and processes, your business has no foundation.
To implement systems inside your business, you first need to consider your objectives:
- What is it you want to achieve?
- What are the processes you need to implement to operate?
- What are your business projections and strategies?
- How will you monitor and track them – where is the feedback loop?
- Ask yourself: “Is this working for me, given the current situation I have right now?”
A process is a series of steps in your business that needs to be repeated more than once. Hence, if a task needs repeating, you need to establish a process for it, and you’ll need to have a process that outlines the steps needed to solve these problems repeatedly.
In order for others to follow the same process again and again, you’ll need to write the process down and create your own standard operating procedures (SOPs), so that; your team is fully aware of what they need to do, and future employees know exactly what they must do. The more detailed and specific the better, because the goal is to create a process that can survive without your involvement or intervention. As a CEO, we can’t be involved in every task.
When people say that I can’t trust anyone else to do what I’m doing. It’s because they haven’t put the right systems in place and they haven’t put the right quality controls in place.Tamer Shahin
Tamer has witnessed the commonalities that business owners struggle with; the lack of clarity, not being able to delegate, being faced with overwhelmingly inefficient or non-existent business systems or processes, dealing with businesses that have no strategy in place – the list goes on. All this results in business owners playing it small, not taking calculated risks, and being unable to progress.
Many business consultants offer a cookie-cutter formula or a one-size-fits-all approach, but in truth for a business to grow sustainably we need to acknowledge that there are no two businesses alike. When we adopt a formula that fits our own unique needs, we understand our business’ purpose, we are able to implement growth efficiently, and we can now focus on why we got into business in the first place.
The CEO Entrepreneur himself doesn’t dictate a formulaic way to run your business. Rather it is clear to him that every business owner is different and what they want out of their business is different too. There are just too many variables to find a formula for success that works for every business, all the time. Instead, he says, we need to view our business in a completely different way. Step back, and look at your own needs, ask yourself:
- How do I become the CEO of my own business, based on a business I actually want to run?
- What mindset shifts do I need to make?
- What do I want to achieve from running my business and having it exist?
- How can I personalize my systems, so that they work for me, not the other way round?
- How can I customize my systems so that they operate the way I want them to operate in my business?
Why businesses stumble at different stages of business growth
For many businesses scaling up can be a difficult and hard transition. Tamer makes the point that as a solopreneur any changes you make to your business; whether they are adding new tools, apps, or systems is in essence a simpler task. However, when you have invested the time needed to teach your business operations to your team, every new change is no longer as straightforward. It becomes a sticking point and one that tends to hinder change or slow down productivity.
Adapting to change and being able to pivot is a fundamental trait to have within your business, it will help you scale up too, whatever stage you are at. Having systems inbuilt from the outset will help you transition through different stages of business development. Your systems can now adapt and grow with you and operate without you.
What isn’t documented, doesn’t exist.Tom Solid
Tamer provides an example of his own process for his Project Management. He shares that in his company, they have created an SOP that is defined by the core elements of the process, and it is not platform-dependent. So, if they ever want to change the platform or tool, they know the process that interlinks each step. Any software tool used in this function is simply that – a tool. This means if they ever needed to change the tool they still have the processes available to them to re-enable the core foundation and its purpose. Thus, any new change becomes a simpler transition.
Delegation of Authority and define functions
The SOP’s Tamer has implemented are focused primarily on the tasks needing to be done and never focused on the assigned person. If a person is on holiday the procedure is straightforward and the task is easily passed on to someone else on the team. It is the function that is accountable, not the person…
When you are a small company it is ideal to implement these kinds of systems. And when you do, keep them simple and in one place. So that you can avoid people becoming bottlenecks within your system. Having a system that works for everybody allows for growth and adaptability to happen with greater ease.
Collaboration and Community
The Paperless Movement Community, is a tribe of SMEs, corporate businesses, start-ups, and entrepreneurs all learning together about business development and productivity. We see our #pplmvmt peers as part of our business journey. Tamer’s community echoes the same belief in that continuous improvement and inspiring one another is paramount.
Both Tom and Tamer admit in the podcast highlighted above, that they both have had their fair share of business struggles and still do so, neither believes their business or productivity workflows to be perfect. Instead, they both teach that it is vital to be humble and open to learning about new viewpoints. They both agree, having the community space has been an invaluable resource; from discovering ways to improve, to hearing how others approach their processes. All while adapting their own framework to suit their own individual needs.
How long does it take to grow a business?
According to Tamer, it can take around 3 years to grow a business. This allows time to test, improve and develop the right systems, to see what’s working and crucially, what’s not. Then to be able to implement the right infrastructure. It takes time, and longer than most start-ups initially envision.
From the get-go, having systems, strategies, and a solid framework in place avoids having your day-to-day role diluted. By focusing on one thing at a time and testing each step individually you see what’s working, you also see how one change impacts your operation – this is when insights occur.
But, if you are unfocused and trying to accomplish too many numerous things, all at the same time, you wind up changing too many variables and end up having no solid evidence to build your systems on. Tamer delves deeper and shares some profound insights into how to scale your business to 7 figures, check out his Masterclass here.
Remember, it’s always easy to add features, but once the system is running, it’s hard to remove features again. Keep it simple. Always!Tom Solid
We hope this helps you reflect on the reason(s) why you started your business in the first place. And always remember, your business needs to serve you, not the other way around.
It’s been refreshing to hear how Tamer expresses his raw truth, and how owning your own business isn’t easy but, that there are methods you can implement to make it easier. The best part is – with a bit of patience – if you do them right, you will end up catapulting your business to new heights! As a matter of fact, this is where the Paperless Movement is currently sitting. If you’d like to get in control of your business(es) and build a future you really want, check out CEO Entrepreneur, particularly his Kickstarter program.
Here are some more awesome resources you can tap into:
- If you want to find out the ONE problem that is holding you back in your business, take The Business Triage quiz: https://ceoe.co/t-paperless
- If you want to find out more about the amazing work he is doing with entrepreneurs, check him out here: https://ceoe.co/fs-paperless
With a Solid strategy and formula in place, we can be bold, take calculated risks, and learn not to be afraid of our failures but rather grow from them and Fail Forward. It’s time to level up, stop playing small, and create a real impact!