If you want to dramatically scale your business, it’s no use sticking to the same tactics you’re using now. According to
Bill Gallagher, businesses that want to scale tenfold need to rethink everything.
In this episode, Bill Gallagher — founder of Scaling Coach — explains how you scale your business exponentially by changing your mindset to growth.
Bill Gallagher has over 30 years of executive experience as an international business coach, helping thousands of businesses in over 11 countries. Using the ‘Rockefeller Habits’ and his own ‘Scaling Up’ method, Bill has built companies from the ground up to the $500 million mark. He also hosts a world-renowned podcast, Scaling Up.
In this episode we discuss:
- The difference between growing incrementally and growing exponentially
- The illusion of stability and understanding risk
- How to monitor trends to find opportunities
Host: Josh Fonger
Guest: Bill Gallagher
Please Note: The following is a computer auto-generated transcript and will include some inaccuracies.
Welcome to the Work The System podcast where we help entrepreneurs make more work less using systems. And I'm your host, Josh Fonger. Today we have a special guest, we have Bill Gallagher, and with over 30 years of executive experience, Bill is an international business growth coach and the founder of Scaling Coach. He has led successful companies that partner and a couple of others, and Bill has built businesses from the ground to the 500 million mark using the Rockefeller habits and the scaling up method. Bill has not only trained thousands of entrepreneurs in over 25 cities in 11 countries, but he is also an outdoor fanatic and father of two. Really believes in making more to work less so you can enjoy life, which is a sentiment that runs strongly through his renowned podcast, which I highly suggest you check out which is called scaling up. Bill, welcome to the show.
Thanks, Josh. Nice to be here. And hopefully we stay connected.
When I have some tech difficulties, but so far, so good. Well, Bill, give us the intro into your life, how you got to be the scaling up expert that you are.
So I had four companies of my own, and then a partner and a couple others and across a wide range of industries. And in my lap during my last CEO role, I started doing leadership coaching side lights moving. And then I started serving on some advisory boards. And I really could see that I enjoyed it. And I would like to do it. As soon as I was able to exit that business. And in applying the scaling framework, the Rockefeller habits, our execution stuff, I was able to exit a business that we actually haven't sold the business still runs and operates. It's very different today. But we massaged it to get it to a place. And then I started coaching full time about seven years ago. So I've coached people all over the world, dozens of countries and at all stages. And I do a variety like our coach, very early stage through a program called eo accelerator program, which we have a mutual friend Chris ronzo, who was in that program, he's the kick ass graduate of that thing and has gone on to bigger and better things. And then and then I do workshops and keynotes things like that, talking about scaling up and the lessons, the examples of that. And then I coach about 10, eight to 12 at a time. We just went to 12 with new clients this quarter. And now we're engaged in like, how do we completely change this business and go 100x and I really wasn't even entertained until we got to this crisis, and we had to change our work, right? had me rethink things.
Yeah, same for us as well. Well, let's, let's get into a topic that you and I were just starting to explore last time we were talking together, which is this concept of incremental growth that a lot of small businesses end up doing versus explosive growth and know a lot about that. So what are the differences? And what can those listening, maybe learn about how they're going about growing the business?
We think about scaling up clients, fast growing clients, we're often thinking about 20 to 100% growth per year. And a lot of people would love to just sustain 20% 25% growth a year or even 33%. Very quickly, you double your business that way. The problem is, it's very hard to do with incremental changes. So you think about improving this and fixing that and stopping the links here. And it's all good stuff. It's worth doing. It doesn't usually get you the dramatic growth, it takes very hard, you spent a lot of years, I know, I've done that. And so I've had some successes, I've also had some colossal failures. And I do know this now from observation, from coaching, and so on, that if you start to play a 10x game, you have to rethink everything. And in rethinking that you change things, things can get dramatically easier. Things can get you just whole new approaches come into play. So I started thinking about how many days I like to work when the work has to occur. Likewise, I lead quarterly planning sessions for our full coaching clients or private coaching clients. So there's only so many days, weeks before and after a quarter that you can do that kind of work. And so how often and how much do I want to work and but in changing that approach, okay, so instead of serving 10 or 20 clients, which we can now with the travel restrictions and working online, we can go to we can take care of 20 How do I go to 100 still doesn't add up. There's no efficiency improvement there. There has to be a radical rethinking. And when we do that for our clients, when we think about that, it gets a lot easier. So If I just choose clients who want to dominate their category globally, who want to hit a billion who want a 10x, those kinds of people will be playing a different game, we'll be examining things. There won't be as many sacred cows, there won't be as many things off the table, when somebody is not performing their willingness to make a change quickly it is completely different than somebody who's incremental. Well, I don't want to upset the applecart. Well, this is working well so far. That kind of thinking right?
To grow exponentially, does it always require more risk? Or is it sometimes safer to do exponential growth? So they will think, well, I grow incremental, then I can kind of protect myself and I can manage it and I can still be in control, and this idea of going, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars is just like, well, that's, that seems risky. Is it risky, or not?
Everything's risky, right? And we think about things in degrees of risk, and comfort zones, and you know, that kind of thing. And there's an illusion of stuff. But look, from out of nowhere, nobody finished, nobody rang in the new year, thinking, you know, this global pandemic that I just saw on the news is going to wallop us up on the side of the head, and we're gonna have, you know, 20% unemployment. And nobody thought that. Some savvy people were like, this thing could get weird. And we've been thinking for the last 10 plus years, there could be any day now, a flu or a pandemic, that really has profound impacts. We've been hearing lots of possibilities. And we haven't had SARS and Ebola and other kinds of things like that, that could have done that and haven't, but we also didn't dress it, no, all of a sudden, here we are. So nobody could predict lots of things like that. And even the threads that predicted, oh, there was gonna be a terrorist attack on 911. You know, they weren't fully appreciated, and listened to it. And you could, you know, take people to court or that kind of thing or not, it doesn't matter. We all face threats. We couldn't say I remember a family friend dropping a kid off at school, and he was driving home and he was hit by another car. And he was gone, you know, game over. And it's tragic, right? It's been many years now. But it was a beautiful human and all that. In an instant, the business, the family that like everything has changed. So the notion that we're more stable is kind of an illusion. And yet, I think that all the time, like I was attracted to work with a company a few years ago. And we scaled nicely. They sold the owner, put some money in the bank and changed his risk factor, which is great. But I remember noticing very clearly how happy he was with a new Jaguar. But these new Jaguar SUVs, he was so happy as a cool car, right? It's like how this thing's awesome. And I I didn't say to him quite so clearly. And and that's probably a shortcoming in me as a coke dude, you could have a jet. You know? Are you happy with a Jaguar or a jet? And I forget the environmental impacts of a janitor, that kind of thing. I'm not talking about the are you willing to play a big game, and the vast majority of the people that we deal with want to do something great in the world, their work, their service, their product is beneficial in some way. My purpose is helping leaders build a better world, they don't always think about it in that same way. But I am never surprised at how they shift when they start to do their work and their purpose early on in our work together. And they figure out the why of their business. And people who never know what they're like, oh, this is just a financial business, are surprised by themselves. They're moved and inspired by themselves and their work when they see who they are and what they really care about. They're like, holy crap. If you think about that, and you discover that, then why not 10x at why not try to do something, you know, give your life to that and engage that fully, or at least the working part of your life. Right? I'm not saying don't have a family life or you know.
I think that's great advice. And for those who have always thought incrementally, and maybe they're watching this podcast and thought, well, maybe I'll get the system. I'll get a 5% here and 2% there and 1% there. Is there a button that needs to click? Or is it or what happens with someone's mind where they start to see that it has to be around people who are playing that kind of game? What have you noticed?
Let's talk about Singularity University for a minute. So I had the privilege of working with Salim Ismail years ago when he was the managing director, whatever, I forget what the term was at the time but he was the guy working with Peter Diamandis and Ray Kurzweil that launched that program. And it was huge and enormous. And I didn't realize that, how important it was and how cool it was when I started working with him. But I have come to realize that over time, what do they do there? They look for, they look for projects and things that affect billions. Now, like, what can we do to solve a big problem, right? That's an interesting way to get that audacity to go bigger, you know, solve the bigger problem, it doesn't mean that you can't have a really beautiful like corner store, restaurant retail. All that's fine. And we need local businesses as well. Not everything should be Costco. But if you have something big, don't hold back, like if you have something that you're passionate about, play it to whatever, and you can play it.
Yeah, I suppose. And you can probably speak to this, maybe there's something that you do. And I had this sausage making client years ago, where the family owned this, and they just made sausage for the local, local city. But then the second generation said, Hey, actually, we could package this, and then go regional, then it would go national. And it was like they played a bigger game with one one piece of their whole business. So it wasn't to take the whole restaurant and make 50 restaurants, it was take one piece of their business and then try to make that scale. So I suppose that's also an option, too, right?
Yeah, look, there's a couple different ways. Let's say you have a small local business, you would like to be part of something. We need to be more like, you could create a movement that helps other people like you and, and that could be your system and your ambition. And in doing that, in fact, in some ways, we did that. With our jewelry business years ago, we became concerned about the environmental impacts and the social impacts of mining and gems and minerals and metals and the processing and the conditions of work. And so we're like, well, we're just one company. And even though we have ambitions to grow this brand, globally, we're not going to alter the fundamental things that we think need addressing in the industry. So we started to create a movement that then morphed and became beyond anything that we were controlling. But it was about bringing environmental sustainability and like fairtrade type, pro worker practices that were beneficial in the communities that we were touching. So when somebody wore jewelry, they could feel good about it, they knew that it didn't represent harm to communities and people they could wear it with. Still the driver was the fashion choice and the styling and that kind of thing. But you could wear it with clear conscience. So we started that movement. So you could do something like that. Or you could start something and grow it beyond and you know, and make it a bigger thing that you take out.
So let's get to this, this book, Scaling Up. If anyone has not read it, of course, they should get a great book, a lot of really important things to learn about, and instead of you hearing about me explain it, why don't you tell us? What are the Rockefeller habits? And what are some key essentials that people really need to get out of this book.
Right. So the scaling framework is the best of business growth framework. We take the best ideas out there in the world of business, and we distill them. And we make them simple and practical and actionable, so that you can deploy them in the business and we figure out the right ones to pull. We've centered on four big decision areas that are critical to grow the business. People getting the right people on the bus, having the people work together well, having enough of the right people to scale and grow the business. The people start first and then strategy, getting a simple differentiated growth strategy that's actually driving growth. So your strategy is simple, but it's not driving growth, we have an issue. Our strategy is too complex that everybody can't say it and repeat it, then we don't maximize the leverage on that kind of a strategy. So differentiation that is unique and and often addressing just a small part of the marketplace, right? Apple didn't capture the majority of the mobile phone marketplace, they captured the majority of the mobile phones, not the units, the profit, right? We're interested in picking out a niche of something that is unique and compelling and highly profitable and that kind of thing. So that strategy, and then execution is about getting smooth execution. It goes to like Chris Rogers work with train Yule, or your Work The System and that kind of thing. How do we get into other things that we look at when we think about best dive. We haven't featured your book yet, but well, I'm sure we'll be on that free note. And how do we pull in these things? So we look at the EMF and we look at other sources, and what are the essential ideas there? How do we get out of them now, the origin of the four decisions was the Rockefeller habits. And it started in a program that Vern harnish as one of the founders of the eo organization, then called why EEO, they created this program called birthing of giants at MIT. And, they started to pull together these best ideas. Well, in those days, Vern read this book tightened about the life and times of John D. Rockefeller. And John D. Rockefeller, was more than twice as wealthy as the wealthiest guy, a business guy alive today. And he did that in a time without the internet, and mobile phones and things like that. And there were interesting things to learn from him strategically, and about his people. But there were a ton of things to learn in the world of execution, his cadence of meetings, his use of metrics and dashboards, that kind of thing that we can upgrade today with, with technology and tools. But the core ideas are there. And that became the original 10 Rockefeller habits that we still use on a regular basis. They're available for free as a download on our website on the scaling app website. So scalingcoach.com. You can also get a copy of our book there for free, pay the shipping and handling, and we'll send it to you. But we've So anyway, that's the core of its execution. So we're looking there up in particular, within the 10 Rockefeller habits at three big things. How do we set priorities? How do we keep visibility on the critical numbers with KPIs and dashboards? And then what's the right cadence of meetings that has us pay attention to those things over time, so we don't get just caught up in the emergencies of day to day operations? So priorities, metrics, dashboards and the meeting rhythm. So that's kind of the core of execution. So high repeatability, low drama, high profitability is the core to all that, and then the last piece is cash. So can we optimize cash in the business? Can we get it to be funded by customers and suppliers, so we don't have to go to the bank so we don't have to raise equity, there's a time and a place for and we've got lots of good stories about either debt or equity funding. But the more we can tune the business to fund the growth, the better position we are with both of those sources of funding.
So for the business owners watching this right now, I was arranged by some of them to have multimillion dollar companies, some of them are just starting out. What are some habits? Or maybe are there certain habits that he's really focusing on? From zero to the first million and a million? Plus? Are there ways are they all important? You just kind of do more deeply the bigger your company gets?
Well, there, I mean, you can make some generalizations, right about stuff. So zero to a million, you're trying to figure out who your customer is what you're offering, you do like anything for anyone, and you just try to attract anyone who will work for you. And, and the first stage of kind of giving things away and realizing there are different roles. So first, you think, oh, if I get somebody more like me, and then you think, well, maybe I should need different people who could do things that I can't do. And so there's an evolution of those kinds of things. And then you start to get to that, but I think a lot of times, even past a million in sales, companies still haven't focused. In fact, I've even worked with companies, north of 10 million, who are still trying to be everything to everyone. And I've even worked with a company and nearly half a billion in sales, that ultimately got themselves in a very difficult position. Because they kept trying to fight too many fires, they thought they were bigger than they were. And they could open multiple fronts. Now you have to choose a few things to focus in on so the rapid scale starts to happen. We find one kind of core customer and one set of things that we can do and start to figure out what we could do differently than everyone else. And just do that one thing again and again.
So with the variety of clients you've worked with, so different places in the world, different size companies. Guess this question is scaling up differently in the US compared to Europe compared to Africa, Asia.
Our book is in a lot of languages and we have 200 couches around the world. It's fundamentally the same as the core of it now, there are major differences in the regulatory environments, the labor practices, the cultural norms. When I watch people in a workshop with me in the Middle East, and I've been doing a number of them for the last few years, the way that they approach and interact, there's a different tempo and cadence to things the way they adopt things. But they're all just folks like you and I different accents and different clothes and things like that. But it's, it's way more the same than then you think.
So if you are going to have a hypothetical question. So you're going to start a company from scratch next week, knowing what's going on in the marketplace today, knowing you want to scale to 100 million, let's just say, how would you make a choice about where to go? Is it better to go high tech, low tech, local, international?
Everything's gonna be high tech today, right? Everything is gonna have a component of technology in it. Unless you're specifically anti technology, and you're gonna work with the Amish or something like that, right? I'm gonna raise bees. And as a reaction to that, that's an interesting thing. But even like, we saw the escaping me right now the company in the name of the product, but a bee hive launched, right? And they used a crowdfunding to do it. So like, you can even launch a beehive and then do it with an element of technology using video production and crowdfunding and things like that. So everything everywhere is being impacted. You ought to be leveraging technology and everything. Gretzky said, Wayne, Gretzky, skate to where the puck is going, right? So people are too much now thinking about how do I manage work from home? Enough already, you got it down? It's whatever you're doing is fine. Let's now think about the next bit. Where's it going after this? Are there going to be foreclosures? Is there going to be massive emptying out of commercial office spaces? What are you going to do with that space? If you have space, I have a tenant who's bailed on us in an office right now that we were renting out. You know, these are the places to think about what's coming next. Whatever your thoughts are about the pandemic, the source, the treatments, the all that kind of thing. And there's definitely a lot of debate about all that. What you can count on that we'll be dealing with some ramifications, is for several years in some form. So start to think about that and deal with that there's opportunity in dealing with things right. So I and I don't really care what you believe, philosophically, or your political, whatever, people are going to be nervous about being in public in places, they're going to want more separation. And even if not all of them, some of them are, and that's going to have an impact on you. So you could embrace it. And you could say, we're going to be this kind of restaurant, everybody is costing everybody's face and you could be another one you're going to be we're gonna have dividers up, or you could say our offices are going to have more HIPAA filters than ever thinking about that long term concern. There's opportunity there, right? What if there's lots of office space available? What are you going to convert it to? What kind of real estate you can invest in right now, right? Now, this is actually sorry, let you get as you go. I could riff, right. So I'm very passionate about this. In particular, asking what we call it sweat is a more strategic version of SWAT. SWAT, most folks know strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, were like strengths and weaknesses. Yes, but especially the core ones, the ones that don't change within initiative are to then look at trends and look broadly at trends. What's happening in the world? Where do people care about? Where's the money moving in a global depression, that there's still only a certain amount of contraction, but the dislocations are massive. So trying to figure out where things are going, what's stopping? And then what's picking up and, and is where the opportunity is. Now, I haven't heard of that. So sweat SWAT trends, broadly and globally, not just your industry, not just what's happening to you, because it'll be too narrow. And you won't spot the moves that are about to hit you.
right. Yeah, no, that's great, great advice. Well, the time is flying really fast. And I want to get a couple of the key questions that we always ask, which is number one, systems. So since robot systems, is there a system that you put into your business or to a client's business that you've seen a benefit and maybe you could share one system story?
I'll give you the main one and then the secondary one. So the main one is get a great cadence of good meetings, annual plan quarterly updates, so annual strategy and planning session, then do a quarter Rarely plan reset, do a plan one quarter at a time every quarter. And then do weekly and daily. So a daily huddle and a weekly check in that system of meetings, one, run rigorously as your first order of business, stop moving your own meetings in favor of a customer's request. Now, Monday morning is the management meeting. And then every morning at 915 is the daily huddle or whatever it is for you, right? Those things are sacred. And then you fit in customers around that kind of thing. And all the other things that are probably the biggest system in the second one are also in our execution habits, just the little nugget is people's dashboards and metrics visibility. When they left, their offices mostly collapsed. And people stopped knowing how the company was doing. So figure out how to get your dashboards visible again, and update what numbers you're reporting because they might need to change.
Yep, great advice. Sounds simple. But it takes a leader with some backbone to make those things actually.
For sure. Simple. It's not always easy. Simple, but not easy.
All right. And then what's the question that I didn't ask you? Could I ask you a lot more that I should have asked you during this interview that you want to hit on?
A crisis. Right is, if there's all kinds of crises, it seems all of a sudden we had environmental crises, then we had the pandemic crisis. And then we have the Black Lives Matter crisis. And so we're having these crises, the thing to notice is that mostly that means like a negative emergency, but crisis in the root word is a turning point. So if you look at what's going on, and you speak to it, and you address it, there's a huge opportunity. So I think that, you know, in on every level, like, enjoy the time with your family, get out and walk more, eat better, clean out your house, like use this opening, redesign your business, jettison things that don't work products and customers and you know, like clean up and change and use this time. A recession is a terrible thing to waste.
Yeah. Oh, that's a good way to think about it. There is a silver lining. And Bill where can people find out more about you more about Scaling Coach, where should they go?
Scalingcoach.com is easy to remember. websitescalingcoach.com has our tool downloads all several 100 podcast episodes on every topic you could imagine. And a free copy of the book there like that. So all kinds of good stuff.
Okay, so everybody take him up on the offer of scalingcoach.com. It's got a great podcast as well, and a lot of really useful information.That's all on iTunes, Stitcher, wherever you get your podcasts. All right, well, thanks everybody, for being with us today on Facebook Live or whether you're watching this on iTunes, Stitcher, wherever you're watching this, appreciate you being here. Next week we'll be sharing another expert like Bill and sharing with you how you can grow your business so you can make more work less. Also, if you want a copy of that book right there behind me, Work The System. You can download it for free at workthesystem.com, or you can buy it or get it for free by leaving us a review. leave us a review wherever you're watching this and send us an image to info at workthesystem.com. And once a week we pull a name out of a hat and you could be the lucky winner. Otherwise, we will see you all next week.