Episode 690: What “season” is your business in?, with Stephen Woessner
Good Morning – I’m Stephen Woessner, CEO of Predictive ROI and your host of Onward Nation. And welcome to Episode 690, which is this week’s solocast.
Before we go behind-the-green-curtain of today’s topic…I want you to know how extremely grateful I am for your time – and I am also grateful that you have chosen this episode to be what you listen to – to study.
Or, maybe you’re taking our podcast with you on your daily commute – or however the lessons we share make their way to you – please know – I am thankful we have become part of your day.
We all have the same 86,400 seconds to invest today…and the fact that you have chosen to invest a portion of your time in taking this journey with us means a great deal to me.
So thank you, Onward Nation.
For our time together today…I am going to step us through what I see as the four seasons each and every business owner needs to recognize in order to successfully navigate their company, employees, and clients through as part of the business’s natural life cycle.
Every business experiences these seasons – no matter what industry and no matter how successful.
And yes, there is some correlation between the seasons we will walk through during today’s discussion and some of the traditional growth models you may have studied in school like Growth-Share Matrix made popular by the Boston Consulting Group.
This is the one with a quadrant – grid layout where a business needs to fit inside one of four boxes. One was labeled Cash Cow, one for Star, one for Question Mark, and one for Dogs.
A business would be classified into one of the quadrants based on their growth rate and market share.
If growth is high and market share was also high…the business would be a star. The opposite of the Star is the Dog quadrant.
I like what the Boston Consulting Group did with the matrix. And it is ideally suited for large corporate entities operating in well-defined industries with easy to calculate market shares.
That is not most business owners, Onward Nation.
It doesn’t fit Predictive ROI and my guess is it doesn’t fit your company either.
And in my opinion, business owners need a practical framework for connecting the seasons of their business into their thought leadership – into their point of view – and how these blend together to form cornerstone content that can be used to move any business forward.
And also recognizing that there should be healthy period of rest in the business.
I will also share some tactical next steps to consider while you and your team are working your way through each season.
How you can continue to nurture and build your nation of true fans, how you can continually refine and clarify your point of view, and how you can prepare your business to move onward to reach that next level of success.
Okay, let’s dive in. Ultimately, there are three main reasons why I wanted to share this with you this morning, Onward Nation.
First…and you may have heard me talk about this before…but I am sick of all the “marketing hyperbole” I hear from digital marketing gurus, business coaches who have never run a business, and consultants who are promising you that their system – if only applied – can give you that coveted 7-figure business.
You just need to download their thing, buy their course, or join their super expensive mastermind.
These gurus are trying to entice you with their get rich quick promises of following their funnel blueprint or this email sequence – just apply this swipe file into your campaigns – and WHAMMO – you too can have a 7-figure business just like they do.
Um, no thank you.
Here’s the reality, Onward Nation…
Of the 28.1 million businesses in the United States…only 4 percent of them ever reach the $1 million a year in sales.
Yep, just 4 percent.
With that said…there are certainly legit experts – those who have truly done it before. But the different is that a true thought leader has a fully transparent body of work that is easy to see.
You can review and scrutinize their track record…and their content is true thought leadership versus a self-aggrandizing YouTube channel.
You can easily see how they have built a business of their own and how they truly work in the trenches with others to help build a client’s company.
Onward Nation, growing a company to $1 million in sales is a big deal – and if it is one of your goals – super awesome! But to get there…you need to remain cognizant of the fact that your business will go through a healthy process of seasons so you can stay focused and ready to deploy your precious resources at the right time – hence the importance of today’s discussion.
Second…I want to help you set expectations on timeline because there is so much glitz and glam surrounding success today that it is really easy to fall into the trap that success can happen overnight.
And even when we logically know and conceptually understand that success takes time and a whole lot of hard work – we can see a business or a celebrity and think, “Wow…how did that happen for them so fast?”
Because we fit all about their behind-the-green-curtain backstory – we only see the flashy front of stage. Here…let me give you two quick examples.
Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart are two of the biggest names in entertainment right now – and earners – in Hollywood. So they are great examples of the point I want to make.
With Dwayne, aka The Rock, one of his first starring roles was a movie called The Scorpion King back in 2002…16 years ago, Onward Nation. And before that…he was a professional wrestler from 1996 to 2004.
But…for the better part of 21 years, Dwayne Johnson has been perfecting his craft to the point that he was one of 2017’s highest paid actors earning $65 million.
He has also built a nation of true fans, who flock to see his latest blockbuster when he shares snippets of the film in his daily posts with his 100 million Instagram followers.
The Rock deserves every ounce of his success – it’s fun to watch from the outside looking in – and he is the furthest thing from an overnight success. He is now reaping the harvest of his 20 plus years of sowing.
Or how about Kevin Hart? He has been perfecting his comedy craft since 2001. Kevin was cast as The Rock’s co-star in two recent movies, including the international sensation “Jumanji”.
And not only did the starring roles represent success for Kevin Hart all by themselves…but…they also helped further expand his profile and fan base to where he is now breaking box office records with his current comedy tour entitled, “Irresponsible.”
Kevin and his team sold an unprecedented 500,000 tickets during the first week of opening. And he now has 57 million Instagram followers.
When I look at Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, I immediately want to know the behind-the-green-curtain of their success…their team…their systems…their practice sessions…the training…the preparation…and all of the hard work…night after night…all the doubt when they must have thought they wouldn’t “make it”.
And yet they kept work through the seasons and they did it for decades. Because they knew that was the price that success required to be paid in order for them to get them to where they are now.
How they persevered.
How they ignored the naysayers.
How they kept pushing.
I respect that level of dedication to their craft and what they wanted to achieve – but interestingly – if I were to interview them for an Onward Nation episode – I suspect they would both say that as good as things are for them right now…they likely feel like they are just getting started.
Both are legit business owners – not just on-screen talent – so watch what they are doing, Onward Nation, and how they are executing every day. It is mastery and discipline at work.
Third…I wanted to walk you through the seasons so you can had a roadmap for building your business in a strategic and thoughtful way.
A blueprint that helps you build a nation of true fans around your point-of-view, around what makes you unique, your thought leadership, and the value you and your team deliver for clients.
Okay, so let’s dive into the four seasons that every business, and every business owner, needs to work through.
Season 1: Get back to basics
In my opinion, this first season is experienced when you need to ignite new growth in your business – and – when you have just reached that next level.
Getting back to the basics, which I believe are re-grouping with your team, skills training, evaluating the resources on your current team and making additions or adjustments, revisiting your point-of-view, how your POV is driving what you earlier defined as your three uniques, and how both are driving your cornerstone content.
As a quick aside, Onward Nation…if you want more detail on POV, three uniques, and how they blend to form your cornerstone content…just go back to Episodes 676 and 659. You will find some good step-by-step detail in both episodes.
So if you just completed a successful business development campaign, launched a new product or service, attended a major trade show and rolled out something innovative – as a result – achieved that next level of your business you are likely now in Season 1.
Versus…continuing to push and push in order to move to yet another level.
Onward Nation, more companies go out of business from indigestion due to too much opportunity versus starvation and not having enough new business to keep them alive.
So if you reached that next level – awesome. Take some time to celebrate and evaluate how you got there by asking yourself some key questions.
Review how your team performed – and more specifically – what skill sets were critical to your success? And do you have enough capacity in that skill going forward?
What value did you deliver to customers?
What feedback did you receive from customers?
What feedback did you receive from vendors?
How many new customers did you take on – and why?
How many customers did you lose – and why?
What about your sales pipeline worked really well and what didn’t?
Did your pool of prospects grow and why?
Did you social media ecosphere grow and why?
Or…maybe the reverse is true. Your business has not reached a new level on the upside but instead has reached a new low. Well, the questions we just covered apply for your business, too.
So no matter if you are coming off some massive growth – or some massive struggles – Season 1 is the reset. We all need a reset – to clear away all the clutter and to then focus on renewal and moving forward. It is part of the Law of the Harvest. Just think about that for a second.
Say you are farmer and you just had a record harvest – more corn – more potatoes – more produce than you have every harvested from your fields in the history of your family working the soil for decades.
You put new technology, new tools, and a new team into place the resulting yields we off the charts.
But now the harvest is over. It is time to get back to the basics and prepare for next year’s harvest by working through the same evaluation process I just shared with you.
Or, let’s say you’re the farmer again and you just had the worst yielding harvest ever in the history of your farm.
What do you do?
You get back to the basics and prepare for the next harvest and setting yourself and your team up for success during the next harvest period.
Season 1 is critical to Season 4…it is the Law of the Harvest and it is alive and well on the family farm just as it is in your business. You cannot experience massive growth year after year without coming back to Season 1 and renewing…and getting ready for the next harvest.
For example…at Predictive ROI…we recently experienced a leveling up…new clients…new teammates…a successful launch of our latest book, Profitable Podcasting – and thank you for all of your support, Onward Nation – I am so very grateful for your helping in making the book so successful…becoming a #1 Amazon.com best seller list in 18 hours was awesome.
We had an excellent Season 4 harvest. And we are not done growing Predictive ROI – but we do need to take a brief pause and realize that we are now in Season 1 so that we can prepare for our next Season 4 harvest.
So this week…Erik Jensen and I – my business partner at Predictive ROI – we met up in Austin, Texas – he flew in from Salt Lake City and I flew in from La Crosse, Wisconsin for five days of business development – meetings with several of our Predictive ROI clients and then Erik and I are also investing 2-1/2 days with our mastermind group that consists of other agencies owners – as part of the Agency Management Institute.
The 12 owners in the mastermind all refer to our group as Velocity – and I absolutely love the owners in the group – and this is the perfect Season 1 activity for Predictive ROI…as we plan our next iteration of Seasons 2, 3, and 4.
Season 2: Sow your seeds for long-term
Let’s stay with the farmer example as we walk through the other seasons. In Season 2…again…no matter if you just reached a new level of growth in your business…a record harvest…or…you are grinding in order to rebuild…Season 2 is all about sowing. Season 2 is about generously sowing the right seeds, in the right amounts, and in the right areas in order for new growth to occur.
According to the Law of the Harvest, we will only reap at the time of harvest what has been sown.
So if we have not been generous in helping clients grow, helping our prospects learn and develop all without some hidden agenda, and to generously share our time with our teammates, then how can we expect that our harvest in Season 4 will be abundant?
In addition, the Law of the Harvest also says that we will reap the same in kind as we sow.
Or, to say that another way…you cannot share small tidbits of your knowledge with your prospects and then expect abundance at the time of harvest. You cannot give pennies and expect dollars at harvest.
But also remember this…the Law of the Harvest also says that you will reap more at harvest than what you sow.
So your generosity with customers, clients, teammates, vendors, and all of your other stakeholders during Season 2 will pay big dividends during your harvest.
So if your business is struggling…should you be financially frugal during Season 2? Yes, absolutely!
That is part of being a good steward. But what you should also do is to creatively find ways to share your wisdom and expertise with your clients and prospects – to sow seeds – to build your list – to share your thought leadership – to guest blog – to write that book you have been wanting to write and share the content for free with your clients as a sneak preview and special thank you.
Build a rockin’ awesome Instagram account – follow Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart – and watch what they are doing – how they let their followers into their lives – they have pulled back the curtain – you can do the same thing with your prospects and clients.
And yes, you don’t have 100 million followers – so what – you have the number of seeds you need for your next harvest. You just need to get out there and sow them.
Season 2 is all about planting your flag – your POV in the hearts and minds of your customers and prospects…and you do that through sowing seeds – as many as you can – through your cornerstone content.
You can do this…I believe in you, Onward Nation.
Season 3: Tend to the new growth
If you have done the hard work of Season 1 – put the plans in place and have been diligent about sowing the right seeds and in the right amounts during Season 2…you will begin to see signs of new growth.
New opportunities will begin to come your way.
New prospects will invite you in to present your services, to share your story, and to discuss how you and your team might be able to add value to what they are trying to accomplish.
You will start to meet prospects at trade shows who come up to you and say, “Hey, I have been listening to your podcast – or watching your YouTube channel – or reading your blog – or – I have been on your email list for a while now – and I really like some of the things you have been sharing and was hoping we would have an opportunity to meet at this show.”
Or…how about this, “I knew I just had to attend your workshop because every time I turn around with a problem or crisis in my business – there you are – ready to be helpful.”
Okay…how awesome is that, Onward Nation?
And those are all signs of new growth. New opportunities that need to be nurtured – and when that begins to happen – you will know you are firmly planted in Season 3.
It is time for you to water the seeds you have sown, get down on your hands and knees and pull the weeds, gently till the soil to let more air in on the roots, and to prune the growth you are now seeing.
All of this hard work – getting into the trenches with your community – with your audience – with your nation of true fans is critical.
It is the right thing to do in order to remain congruent with the person who just did all of the Season 2 sowing. And, you need to remain congruent with the Law of the Harvest.
If you notice growth and don’t water it…or pull the weeds…your new growth will dry out and die.
But oftentimes, I see business owners do the hard work of Season 1 and Season 2 and then expect that the floodgates of the abundant harvest will now come flowing into their business – but that circumvents the law of the harvest.
Nature doesn’t work that, way and you cannot expect that the natural laws that govern relationships will work that way either.
So respect the process. Season 3 must be followed if you want to have an abundant harvest in Season 4.
Season 4: Harvest and reap what you sowed
Okay…now Season 4 is here. It is time for your book launch, it is time for your product launch, it is time for you to roll out your new service offering, it is time for you to unveil your latest innovation to your sales team at your private event at the industry trade show – something you and your team have worked so hard to achieve…yes!!!
It’s here…THE HARVEST.
And if this is where you are at right now, Onward Nation – congratulations – please know – I am super happy for you.
You didn’t move into Season 4 by accident. You didn’t wake up one day in Season 4 without some serious hard work – so virtual high five – I respect your effort and hope the abundance of your harvest overflows.
Just like the farmer doesn’t wake up one day in early August and say to his team… “You know what I think we ought to do today – let’s go pick some corn!” And then they look out to a field without any corn – covered in weeds – not going to be a good harvest.
But, if the farmer and his or her team have done all of the hard work in Seasons 1, 2, and 3…they should be ready for an abundance harvest. And they also know that as soon as all of the hard work of the harvest is complete…they will immediately move back into Season 1 because the preparation for next year’s harvest begins.
So just like with the Law of the Harvest – the seasons your business experiences will follow a similar pattern.
However, I also want to make sure I clarify that I am not suggesting that the seasons are an annual cycle for your business are they are when we are talking about growing corn.
You may have an abundant harvest in Season 4…move into Season 1 for planning…and then move through Seasons 2 and 3 to prepare for the next harvest…all in a matter of a few short months.
And for your business or the dynamics of your industry – that may be possible. Or, Seasons 1, 2, and 3 may take you a year or two to get through…especially if you are coming off a harvest that did not produce the results you wanted.
You did not receive great feedback from customers.
You realized that you might need to make some adjustments to your team to level up.
You noticed some adjustments to your product or service to make sure it is properly aligned with the cornerstone content you are producing.
Or, you have now realized how important it is to get clear on your POV, your three uniques, and why you should be sharing cornerstone content on a consistent basis to add value during Season 2 – sowing your seeds.
Regardless of what season your business is currently in – please know – being aware of the Law of Harvest can help you move your business through the seasons – and onward to that next level.
I wish you much success during your next harvest, Onward Nation.
So with that said…I again want to say thank you. Thank you for being here and generously sharing your time and all of your feedback so that we can continue to get better each and every day.
We will be back tomorrow with another helpful episode with Jeff Hyman as my guest. I know you will find the conversation with Jeff helpful because shares insights and the economics around recruiting rock stars for your team. You will not want to miss Jeff Hyman.
Okay, Onward Nation – until then – onward with gusto!