• Home
  • >
  • Blog
  • >
  • What I personally learned about business growth in 2010

Les McKeown's Predictable Success Blog

  • December 25, 2010
  • minute read

What I personally learned about business growth in 2010 

For those of you sated enough on turkey and trimmings to browse this way over the Christmas weekend, I thought I’d share something a little more personal than usual – the business growth lessons I personally learned in 2010.For me 2010 was mostly about getting my book, “Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization On the Growth Track – and Keeping It There” launched. My goals were rarified but simple – get it on the Wall Street Journal and USA Today business bestseller lists. (I had a some additional, secondary goals, but they needn’t detain us here.)

While I did accomplish what I set out to do, it wasn’t without considerable effort, some of it effective, some of it so-so, and much of it clearly ineffective.

In the light of all of that, and with the benefit of retrospect, here are the 5 main lessons I learned (in some cases, re-learned) in 2010:

1. Don’t mistake a starting line for a finish line.
There was only 3 or 4 weeks left until June 6, the launch date for ‘Predictable Success’, when I finally realized that the thing I was running so fast toward wasn’t a finish line (publishing the book), but in fact the start line (for publicizing the book – much more crucial to my goals). I was taken unawares by this, and my resources of all kinds were nearly depleted – time, money, energy – they were all at a low ebb by the time June 6 dawned.

Mistaking a start line for a finish line very nearly put the lights out on my project before it had really begun. If it hadn’t been for encouragement from friends and family, and magnificent strategic support from Liz Marshall (of whom more in a minute), I simply wouldn’t have had the energy to pick myself up and start running in a marathon race that had crept up on me. (I think my subconscious was working all this out when I wrote this blog post.)

Is there anything in 2011 that you’re eyeing as a finish line, but which is in fact just a starting line?

2. When it comes to people, there’s no substitute for trusting your instincts.
When I first got to know Liz Marshall, I knew immediately I had to have her on my team in launching ‘Predictable Success’ – and boy, was I right. Liz single-handedly managed my launch, and me, through trying times (see 1 above) with skill, grace, loyalty and patience.

Conversely, I spent what was to me (and is in absolute terms) a huge amount of money with a big-name, big-shot firm of ‘author strategists’ – money which I may as well have set fire to, for all it delivered – despite having strong personal reservations right from the get-go. My bad – If I’d listened to my inner voice, I wouldn’t have done it.

What are your instincts telling you about the key people you’ll be working with in 2011?

3. When it comes to people, there’s no substitute for behaviorally based interviewing.
Conversely, if I had ignored my instincts and instead applied the principles I teach (by drafting, and asking, strong behaviorally-based questions designed to elicit if the people I was looking to hire had demonstrable proof that they had done, and could do, what I expected of them), I wouldn’t have made the mistake I did.

I didn’t work the process I recommend to others, and I paid the price.

Does using a robust, behaviorally-based (and preferably panel-based) interviewing process contradict going with your instincts? Yes, it does. But as Oscar Wilde said: “I contradict myself. So?

Do you have a robust interviewing and/or assessment process system in place to verify your instincts about the key people you will be working with in 2011?

4. Don’t let the step growth resource line get too far ahead of the linear growth income line.
I wrote about this recently, and the post applies to me as much as to anyone. There were times in 2010 when I let the step growth resource line (investment in ‘Predictable Success’, the book) drift so far ahead of linear growth income (revenues from what I usually do – consulting) that the gap was big enough to drop four 747’s into.

I won’t be doing that again until…well, until I forget, and do it again, I guess.

How big is the gap between your step growth investment and your linear income? How big are you prepared – and able – to let that gap become in 2011 before it threatens your underlying business? What alert system do you have to tell you when you’re getting near that danger zone?

5. Find ways to acknowledge success in the midst of moving forward.
I had many, many highlights in 2010, but I was also dealing with so many challenges that early in Q1 I realized I was in danger of letting the successes roll by without smelling the roses.

No sooner did something good happen than I needed (or thought I needed) to rush off to attend to something else.

So I took to keeping a journal of daily events, and used a 5-‘smiley’ rating system in the margin to mark up good things as they happened. I reviewed the journal each month with my wife, the terrifyingly brilliant Julie Wilson, and we made sure to celebrate as required.

How will you make sure you don’t gloss over your successes in 2011?

Well there it is. There’s a saying in Scotland: “The cobblers bairns are the last shod.” Time for me to reread this post and learn from my own lessons. Merry Christmas.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
Success message!
Warning message!
Error message!