The crowd was taking notes like crazy. We were sitting in Rotterdam, in a business mastery seminar.
The reason why most were so excited about the topic of the day was simple. Complexity is the enemy of execution.
The first secret to epic results is your ability get started. And starting is more likely when you learn to reduce complexity.
10Xing a business in terms of revenue is a complex challenge. It feels overwhelming right from the start.
Luckily my old notebook caught the attention in March. It helped do two things. Create clarity on what needs to happen and plan responsibilities inside our company to mirror the goal.
Pillar #1: Get more customers
Pillar #2: Do repeat business with those same customers
Pillar #3: Sell higher higher value products to those customers
Yes, I know it's not rocket science. But the most profound insight that I found in the journal was just math.
If I want to 10X my business, I don't need to 10X the amount of new clients, or get the existing ones to buy 10X more. Way smaller moves on specific areas will take us to the target.
In fact our team only needs to be able to little bit more than double the amount of new clients, take care of the existing clients in a way that they would consider buying our service a second time and make sure that our product becomes better and better to warrant price increases over time.
Here are our specific targets on each pillar:
Doesn't it feel way more doable to see the 10X goal broken down to smaller goals?
Have you ever struggled to find a plan that works?
I know I have. Countless times.
Five years ago I weighed in 100kg sharp. I was in bad shape and tired all the time.
Every time I started a diet, I soon found another one that looked even better. Sometimes months passed in a state of indecision and bad habits. Weight kept stacking up. I ate like a pig.
The pendulum swung for me when a friend shared a pdf with me.
Scientists at Stanford had published a study "Comparison of Weight Loss Among Named Diet Programs in Overweight and Obese Adults" in the esteemed Journal of the American Medical Association.
The conclusion was both stunning and logical: "Any and all of the popular weight loss diets out there lead to significant weight loss. This supports the practice of recommending any diet that a patient will adhere to in order to lose weight."
Here it is on a bumper sticker: Any diet works if you start and stick to it!
But now you may be wondering what this has to do with 10Xing a business?
Well, for a long time I kept reading and researching the perfect plan to save my business. Sometimes months would pass in a state of indecision and bad habits. Poor results kept stacking up. Nothing seemed to work.
As our business was two weeks away from bankruptcy in 2014, we had to make a move or die. To pick a plan. Any plan.
What we chose was simple. We decided to put all our effort into making cold calls. Talk to an epic number of strangers to find new clients. After 970 meetings, things slowly started to shift for us. The plan worked. We’re still here!
As my friend shared the Standford Pdf about diets, the dots finally connected. Any diet works, if the patient adheres to it long enough. I took a leap of faith and chose Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Body as the guideline stayed with it. Today I weigh 20kg less and feel more energy than ever.
The lesson is simple. Whatever you desire to do there most likely are only two steps.
As The 10X Journey continues, I’ll share in the next posts the basic principles of the plan I chose for taking this business from 1.000.000€ all the way to 10X!
P.S. Yes yes, there is a third step too. Since there are plans that actually suck too... once you see results, it's time deploy judgement too. It that plan has potential, start optimising it for your business, or body!
Today, as I woke up, I felt the urge to write something was back.
For some reason that urge was away for quite a while. I was full of excuses instead of execution.
The truth is that my focus had slipped. It’s like Robert Louis Stevenson once said.
”Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant”
I was only looking for a harvest I wasn’t getting, and not the seeds that I was sowing.
The truth is that some seeds sprout and some don’t. Some seeds hit a fertile soil and some a shallow ground. Some seeds stay in the soil long enough to sprout while some get eaten by the birds.
It’s hard to control all the external factors. And easy to control yourself.
Anyone can sow.
How will you know when you've reached that goal? How does it look like to you? How will you measure your progress?
Those are some of the countless questions I started asking myself when at the turn of the decade I set out on this journey. So on a weekly basis I take out a journal and sit down to think for 30 minutes.
The goal of the 10X Journey is to grow my business Prove tenfold because that is the best thing that entrepreneurs around the world can do help the world get back on its feet post-corona!
In 2019, Prove ran a revenue of 3.069.573€. Our new business model called the Testing Lab created 38% of the total revenue. 1.116.437€ to be specific. Now, to create clarity around the 10X goal I have two statements.
#1: I know that the goal has been reached once the annual revenue of our new Testing Lab service reaches 12.000.000€. That would mean that we reach a monthly revenue of 1.000.000€.
#2: I know that the goal is reached sustainably when our profit margin is 15% or more. That would mean a monthly profit of 150.000€.
In the new business model the Testing Lab, we have at the moment two main products. A five day software testing intensive (6900€/intensive) and a monthly subscription service (9750€/month).
To reach our goal we'd need to be able to sell and deliver 145 testing intensives a month; or 102 subscription services; or any combination of those two.
Just thinking about 10Xing the business feels taunting. But now, doesn't it feel so much more doable immediately when you have clear numbers to look at?
Share your thoughts in the comments. Let's do this journey together!
A week ago, in the breakfast table I asked the kids for business advice.
I told them that I wish to celebrate small wins with my team at Prove. So, how would they suggest I do it?
The came up with a lot of ideas like bringing them a strawberry cake for the morning coffee.
...I doodled every idea down in my journal. The only thing that I noticed later was that none of the ideas suited the situation where we all were quarantined at home. The answers I got were vague given the context I had.
The next day I took out my journal and asked for more advice.
"So now that we have been mostly stuck at home and you've seen me do the video meetings with my team" I explained "how could we celebrate small wins on video?" I asked.
Already the first idea that they gave me was epic. "You should buy party poppers!" they shouted!
So I did!
Few cents a shot and so much fun in every video meet that I've had since!
But why am I telling this story?
Well the thing that I learned from these two mornings was profound. When you ask vague questions, will you get specific of vague answers?
Yup. The results are mostly vague.
With specific questions however, the answers tend to be more specific and context driven too.
The important distinction is that the same thing works with goals too. With a vague goal, you tend get a vague results. With a detailed goal, you get.... yes, you get the drill now!
So if my aim now is to grow the business tenfold, to 10X Prove, is that specific enough to be actionable? What, specifically, should the team start doing? What, specifically, should I focus on today, this week, this month and so on?
With The 10X Journey, the goal is vague I admit. So on the next post, I'll share what it means in more detail!
Meanwhile I invite you to do an exercise too.
Take out a pen and a paper. Write down three goals you might have in your professional or personal life. Then take a look and ask yourself this.
How will I know when I've reached the goal?
I believe that everything you do or don't right now
It's what some call destiny.
This is a critical part of The 10X Journey!
Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
I mean how easy it is to forget to do those simple, yet important things?
Like brushing your teeth every morning. Like drinking those few extra glasses of water. Like eating that apple a day. Like going for a walk few times a week. Like looking at your precious other and telling how important they are...
Neglecting the small things won't take you down in a day... nor in a week. But over time you will reach a destination. And that destination is plotted by daily choices you make.
...By the things you do and don't.
"Your actions have echoes"
On a regular basis I fall off track. My days are always better when I start by writing.
Then comes a morning when I forget what was important. I fall off track, I don't write... just this once, I skip it.
Suddenly weeks have gone by without any creative output. And so the clarity of thought starts to dim.
I believe that Failure is a ritual. And so is Success. While motivation may get you started, rituals will keep you going.
It's as Jim Rohn put it:
Failure equals few errors in judgement made EVERY DAY
Success is a few simple disciplines practiced EVERY DAY
...So I fight myself back on track. I sit on the desk and type a word to get started.
Here is a question for you. What disciplines have you forgotten? When would now be a good time to get started?
A friend of mine is a huge photography enthusiast. Every time when she shows up, she’s carrying an impressive bag and his DSLR.
The first time I met her I asked what was in the impressive bag. Yes, the answer was obvious. 7 different optics for the camera. She is a professional photographer, and what she said next was profound.
A critical skill of succeeding with any craft is to choose the right optics that suit the specific situation and need.
After I last met her before the quarantines, it occurred to me that it’s exactly the same thing with leading a business or even doing software testing.
In software testing, you can choose to dive incredibly deep into specific areas of the software at hand. Or you can choose to take an overlook of the whole product. It’s all about the skill of deciding and using your testing optics.
In running a business, you can choose to look at the big picture like the revenue and profit scores. Or you can choose to dive deep into specific expense structures too. It’s all about the skill of deciding and using your business optics.
Each optic you add to your impressive bag is a result of learning and practice. First comes the idea, then you start practicing how to use the idea in real life.
In the last post I talked about the Navigator Principle. All journeys start by finding your true coordinates. Only then it becomes relevant to decide on the destination and to plot the route. It’s all about the right optics!
For me and the business I run, the goal for this decade is to survive the covid-19 and then thrive to 10x the business. As promised, here are my most relevant coordinates where the journey begins.
I believe that accountability is the unlock of progress, that is why personal trainers usually produce results in fitness.
For this reason I have two main ways to stay accountable with this 10X goal. Documenting the journey in a blog + having a weekly 30minute call with a coach who will keep me accountable.
Seeing the road ahead is critical for success.
As choosing and using the right optics is critical to seeing better, I want to leave you with just one question.
Which optics should you learn and practice next?
”Busted” I thought to myself just an hour ago.
I found myself googling for yet another book on how to grow your sales, how to market more efficiently and how to craft a perfect pitch.
It’s the same trap that gets me on a regular basis. It’s very human to spend effort in trying to find the next tip or trick or hack that would change the game.
But what most — me included — easily forget is what I call the Navigator Principle.
Let me explain.
Have you ever used a GPS to navigate?
Now, when a navigator plots a route for you it will need two things to get to it. First of all it will need to find your position as accurately as possible. But the position alone is not enough. The navigator will need a specific destination too.
The more specific the starting point and the destination, the better the chance is to get a great plan for the journey too!
Yet, when I observe people obsessively googling for their fast fixes, I notice that most have not bothered to really pause and describe their starting point and destination.
So when you bust yourself the next time doing the same, take a pause and ask yourself. How could I use the navigator principle here?
The idea of this series is to document the journey to 10x a business called Prove. So now, instead of seeking for new protips online, I will start with the coordinates.
See you soon for the first glimpse into where we’re at!
P.S. My name is Antti Niittyviita and today I run a 40 employee business in Finland. Our business is the mental health of software industry — testing and quality assurance. Everybody is just happier when software works.
Now, for the decade, my mission is to 10x the business and document the journey so others may follow. I believe it’s the best thing that entrepreneurs can do to help the world get back to it’s feet post-corona. To survive and thrive!
To join the 10X journey visit tap that button!
From my inbox to yours, you’ll get a sneak peak behind the scenes of this journey together with epic tools to both survive and thrive through these times!
I keep on stacking my plans and my expectations. Every day I find myself waiting for the perfect moment to start, a time when I would have a free range of time blocked out just for the creative work. For writing epic text and recording amazing videos that I had planned months earlier.
...And just last Thursday I had that day I had dreamed of! I was happy and full of energy with my morning coffee.
Just as I was supposed to start, I found myself taking a random phone call. Turned out to be nothing that could not have waited for another day.
After the call I took a sneak peek at my email and got sucked in. 45 minutes later I found myself in a brain fog. What was I supposed to do today?
Soon the lunch time was already approaching and the dog wanted to take a walk too.
By 2pm I was dissapointed with myself. I hadn’t done a single line of creative work and wasted the better half of the day already.
Today I looked back at my Thursday it became obvious. The avalance of things appearing urgent is constant no matter how well you guard your calendar. I used the urgent looking things as my excuse for not starting what was important.
This morning I decided to try a silly productivity hack that I read about on the weekend.
Looking back at my morning, I’m amazed. It worked like magic. Without even realising I nailed my top-3 of the day way before the kids woke up.
As it turns out, the unlock to productivity is not the awesome plans and expectations you build.
The bigger the expectation, the harder to start!
The key is to simplify everything to a point where getting started is easy.
Just sit on your working chair and do that one small think right now!
What is this blog about?
I believe that the best thing entrepreneurs can do for the world post-corona is simple.
Tap that button to join!