This article is contributed by Alvin Poh, Mentor and Coach at superscaling.com. Alvin was the Co-Founder and CEO of Vodien Group before it was acquired by the Australian-listed, Dreamscape Networks Limited for $30 Million in 2017.
At 33 years of age, I was already a millionaire. Up to this day, I still can’t comprehend how I got this massive amount of money in my early 30s. But there’s one thing I know for sure — the journey wasn’t easy. It was a rollercoaster ride that sometimes got stuck mid-air, with only two options: Jumping down or fixing the ride. I chose the latter.
It all started when I was 14 years old, tinkering with mIRC back in the day. I created my first custom theme and made it available for other users. I was ecstatic. Soon after, I started offering my web design services to friends and friends of friends. At this point, I was earning around S$500 to S$1,000 at 16.
Fast forward to when I was in polytechnic; I met my friend turned business partner and embarked on a business venture offering web design services. Then we pivoted to helping these businesses with web hosting. This would soon turn into something that would impact the lives of over 35,000 business owners, and we became Singapore’s number one hosting service provider.
The start of the journey had us scratching our heads on how to handle new business growth and the challenges that came with that. We were 100-percent bootstrapped, and I’m glad we didn’t give up and constantly had clear visibility of our PNL.
When we reached the scaling stage of the company, we had expanded from just two co-founders to a team of 150. Finally, after 17 years of running a business, we sold it for $30 million. This would not have been possible without processes and systems, and most importantly, the 5E Scale Engine.
Have the Right Systems and Mindset
If there is one thing that is colossally important in Vodien’s success — is its systems. A system is a series of repeatable, sustainable processes. Business owners need to put suitable systems in place, otherwise, their business will grow into a haphazard mess. You need systems in every business function: sales, marketing, operations, recruitment, employee training, and more.
Implementing systems also make your business valuable for an acquisition. A company with the right systems have these traits:
- A proper organization instead of being a group of individuals
- Low reliance on individuals
- High repeat sales, or renewals
- Positive, predictable growth
- Low employee turnover
The second most important aspect is having the right mindset and thinking like an 8-figure CEO. When we started Vodien, my partner and I were pretty much handling all the tasks in the business. As we grew, we had to grow a team and avoid being the bottleneck in the company.
The right mindset that will scale your business involves three components:
Believing in short-term “hacks” is not sustainable. The processes that you invest in creating should allow for long-term results, which means they must be repeatable. For example, if you want to lose weight, crash dieting may melt off a couple of pounds. But you will gain the pounds back once you stop the diet.
A more sustainable way of losing weight is to come up with a system where you incorporate proper nutrition into your meals and stick to a schedule for working out.
Intentionality pertains to using a results-based approach instead of a task-based approach. The problem with business owners is not that they do not have enough things to do. More often than not, business owners have too much on their plates. This causes them to get confused and distracted, especially if they do not have a clear idea of why they are doing the things that they are doing.
To scale your business, make sure you do not think you are the only one capable of getting crucial work done. Instead, trust and empower your staff and your systems. Leverage these two to reach your business goals. Once you begin to leverage the resources available to you, you will be surprised at how much work gets done exponentially.
Build an Organization and a Team of A-Players
Building an organization with a team of A-players will allow you to get high-impact tasks done.
However, this is where most business owners falter at.
When hiring a team, it is essential to create a system to prevent hiring haphazardly. This will help you find the perfect candidate.
This isn’t the end of the process though — it is merely the start. You also need to have a robust onboarding process. You can’t hire employees and leave them alone by themselves. You want to provide as much support as you can. And remember the most important thing during onboarding — communication.
Always connect the “Why” to the “What.” This means letting employees know why they are doing their tasks. The “Why” part entails five areas you need to explain:
- Explain the company vision
- Explain the relationship to external stakeholders
- Explain the relationship to internal stakeholders
- Explain employee responsibilities
- Explain why they were chosen
Ensuring that you explain these five areas will translate to a much higher rate of employee satisfaction. And once you have a team of high-performers, retain them by planning for their progress and career growth.
High-performers are always thinking about what is in store for them in the future career-wise. You want to reassure them that there is progress in your organization. Offer promotions, training, and certification, exposure, or cross-disciplinary responsibilities.
Implement the 5E Scale Engine to Scale the Business
I created the 5E Scale Engine to get the business past the “growth” stage. The growth stage is not a very lucrative or sustainable phase, so it’s critical to move the business from merely growing to scaling instead.
The first principle is to evolve as the CEO or founder, especially in terms of developing the right mindset and thought processes.
We operated Vodien for a good 17 years, and that was because my partner and I had a clear vision for the company. Having a clear vision is powerful because it leads entrepreneurs in the right direction. It prevents them from going astray whenever distractions or opportunities come their way. This principle covers how to create a truly powerful vision for your business.
Do not hire for the sake of hiring. Instead, hire people with matching values, goals, and visions. If these factors do not match, then do not expect you and your employees to be on the same page. This principle talks about how we can empower our employees to be the best in their jobs, and create a team of high-performers in our businesses.
The next principle in the 5E Scale Engine is engagement. This refers to engaging with your customers and clients. You can have the best product in the market, but you are not fostering client relationships if you are not connecting with your customers. Create a customer journey that focuses on these five areas: Discovery, Consideration, Conversion, Fulfillment, Renewal. Focusing on sales alone is like pouring water in a leaky bucket. Instead of focusing on getting more water, perhaps it is better to just fix the bucket so that water doesn’t leak out!
The last step in the 5E Scale Engine is Execute. You need to execute tasks for efficiency. If there is one thing I hate when running a business, it is inefficiency. The only way to promote efficiency in the workplace is to use the ARSAD funnel. This consists of five steps: Analyze, Remove, Simplify, Automate, and Delegate.
Time To Super Scale
Building an empire takes another level of determination, will, and patience to drive the business from one phase to another. Do not make the same mistakes I did when initially establishing Vodien. Make sure to develop the right mindset and goals. Establish proper systems for sustainability. Additionally, always have a clear vision, and empower your people to ensure a high level of performance.
If you want to learn more about the 5E Scale Engine, I’m building a community of like-minded entrepreneurs who can grow together. Join us in this journey to Super Scale your business and get the freedom and profits that you want. Head over to superscaling.com to Super Scale your business now!
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