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!
It was way past the midnight. About the time when every idea seems like a great idea.
We were just a bunch of friends having fun when the thought hit us. Let’s start a business together!
We acted on it. The year was 2006.
It turned out to be a stupid move... but it could not be undone.
That’s how we started a business called Prove in a world that would soon plunge into the financial crisis.
...At the wake of the unfolding I ended up as the CEO of my company by accident. It wasn’t an easy job to first fire my friends.
...Years later, when I slowly learned to read the financial numbers, I discovered that Prove was only two weeks away from bankruptcy. And it wasn’t the only thing diving steep. I was a total mess too. I managed to destroy both my marriage and another company we had started soon after Prove.
For me, it was the eclipse of both personal and business life. Not my proudest moments. I was spiraling towards a total destruction.
The wakeup call came on one Thursday at 3:57pm. I got a text from the father of a friend. It was only three words, but everything around stopped.
Not long before the friend had confessed that he was an alcoholic. He took a decent shot at recovering but in the end could not bear the pain of his past. He took his own life.
I cried in the car for hours. The darkest moment of my decade. But I guess it was the only way.
...The next morning I woke up to see myself in the mirror. The friend and I had been on the same path, he had just been way ahead of me. Although my I’m not an alcoholic there was much overlay on many addictions that I suffered.
One night, when I yet again was trying to escape the adversities on social media, Youtube suggested me something. It was titled ”This video will change your life.”
I usually ignored such non-sense, but now the timing was perfect. I laughed and clicked myself through. What could I lose?
It started with a Jim Rohn quote that pierced my conscious mind.
"LIFE AND BUSINESS ARE LIKE THE SEASONS. YOU CANNOT CHANGE THE SEASONS BUT YOU CAN CHANGE YOURSELF"
First I got angry and then the thought started to sink in. It started to dawn on me that maybe the bankruptcies of my life were not the cause to my internal turmoil, but the symptom of it. Maybe I was not the victim but the root cause of it all.
...I had been resisting the seasons and sacrificing all my energy in a losing battle.
Slowly the idea about seasons started to set me free. Then, one morning I woke up and felt like I could breathe again, something that I had not been able to do in a long time.
...Acceptance is a bliss.
I jotted the distinction down on my journal pages.
"Seasons don’t ask for your consent, they just come and go as they have always done. Trying to change the seasons only depletes you, the only thing changeable is yourself."
It was late 2014. I had wasted half of the decade fighting a force of nature. But now I experienced a shift in the tectonic plates of my thought. The results were profound.
Before I was a sceptic, doubting everything. I lied to myself and everyone else that I was just good at critical thinking, while it was just an excuse not to change myself.
Lucky for me, the wake up call came, and I was ready to listen.
So, the last half of the decade I spent in deep study on how to develop the self.
”Success is a few simple disciplines practiced EVERY DAY” became my mantra as I started to implement new rituals around reading, planning, time management, retrospecting, journaling, moving, eating and sleeping. I got a personal coach and started investing both time and money in recrafting myself.
Now, looking back at the journey, I must admit that the adversity was also the root of biggest opportunity. It’s just as Douglas Malloch puts it in his epic poem.
"GOOD TIMBER DOES NOT GROW WITH EASE; THE STRONGER WIND, THE STRONGER TREES"
The lesson stays the same in all areas of life. The skillset that you must build to survive winters of life and business will also help you thrive when the season turns favorable again!
Since my turning point half a decade ago, Prove has made over 800.000€ in profits and the personal life is in peaceful balance again.
But seasons work their magic yet again. Seasons don’t ask for your consent. It’s as if the famous Game of Thrones saying was made manifest.
"Winter is coming."
So came the COVID-19 and so will the adversities follow once more. The chokehold that the virus has taken on every nation is unparallelled. Global economy will dive deep as businesses start to fall the longer the quarantines hold.
Just recently I saw an estimate that the unemployment rate in United States could rise to 30%. At the same time 60% of americans have a financial buffer of $400 or less. It doesn’t take a genius to guess the scale of the humanitarian crisis globally if this is the situation in a seemingly wealthy country like the United States.
The best thing that entrepreneurs and business owners can now do for the world is twofold.
Survive and thrive.
And do it as fast, as bold and as big as humanly possible.
"GOOD TIMBER DOES NOT GROW WITH EASE; THE STRONGER WIND, THE STRONGER TREES"
I write this to make my statement. In terms of my busines I’ve got only one thing to say to these adversities.
NOT ON MY WATCH!
On my watch Prove will not fall;
On my watch we will take the winds;
On my watch adversities become opportunities;
On my watch we survive
...and then we thrive!
Now looking back at the last decade, it feels like everything has prepared me for this moment.
...And there is a good chance that everything has prepared you for this moment too! You only need to see it!
This is the beginning of a new decade. As people over estimate what they can do within a year, they dramatically under estimate what they can achieve in a decade. My story is a proof of it.
This time around I will take all that I’ve learned and apply it on my business, Prove. I will do my part for the global economy by first surviving and then thriving to 10X this business!
To make sure that it’s not just words, I commit myself to document the whole journey on both video and writing.
...Now I invite you to join the ride too. Either invest your energy with someone who is willing and able to put their everything into surviving and thriving OR make it happen for yourself!
Today the world doesn’t need your fear or your worry. Now, more than ever, it needs the best version of you!
So, get to it!
Antti Niittyviita, CEO & Entrepreneur, Prove
Every morning, before all of this begun you packed your stuff and left off. Cycling, driving, commuting, you name it. You took the chance even though you knew what could happen.
There is always someone on the road who is drunk. And there are always many who text and drive at the same time. Then there are the drivers who are just plain tired and may even fall asleep.
The stats are stunning. 1.4 million people die due to car accidents every year. That’s 3200 people every single day!
You did it every morning without fear. You took the risk. It was business as usual.
Now you are at home. Most likely more safe than you’ve been in long time. So it’s time to quit worrying and start doing.
Today, the world doesn’t need more fear or negativity. It needs all the hope, inspiration and energy you can possibly put out there!
What if today, instead of indulging in terrible news and social media anxiety, you did something different?
What if you took a little effort to create something beautiful and put it out there. Touch someone either virtually or in person.
Leave that inspiring comment, endorse a friend or just call someone to tell how important they are!
…And maybe repeat it tomorrow.
I believe that the best thing entrepreneurs can do for the world post-corona is simple.
Tap that button to join!