Smash the £5 Million Barrier in Five Steps

As a business owner you’ll have encountered the perennial challenges entailed in breaking through the various ‘number barriers’ to increase your team, your turnover and, most importantly – your profitability.

Those of you who will have almost reached your goal – only to find that someone or something has thrown a proverbial spanner in the works – will be all too familiar with the frustrations encountered on your respective journeys.

As a business strategist and expert in leadership coaching boosting the effectiveness and profitability of owner managed and family run businesses regionally, nationally and internationally I want to share with you 5 key responsibilities that will turbo-charge your companies beyond the £5m and 50 people stage.

In the same way that we’ve previously established how entrepreneurs often struggle to make the transition to CEO, a mature business demand different type of leadership.

In “Rules Are Not Enough: the Art of Governance in the Real World”. Author, Rupert Merson, stresses that the leadership skill set required to smash through the £5 million barrier demands more discipline and analysis, a greater focus on process and less on output – along with increased emphasis on the bottom line and less on the top line.

It also calls for greater concentration on skills, capabilities and qualifications – and less on instinct.

Powering your business to £5 million requires you to take up the ‘CEO Mantle’, get out from under your business and be wholly responsible for:

1. The Survival of the Business

Many companies hit the rocks – not because the business is bad but because past poor decisions return with a vengeance to bite the management. A CEO must be fully conversant with all agreements and decisions that can have a major long term impact. It is critical that they have a ‘Plan B’ as opposed to ‘muddling through’.

2. Providing Adequate Resources Including Rivers of Cash

This can be people, money or machines – or all three. Being short of money in this climate has brought many businesses close to the brink. What are your contingency plans to ensure you have the resources available when you need them?

Knowing how wide and deep – and how far into the future your rivers of cash flow – is critical as we recall the debris and evidence of a long list of casualties in business and industry who failed to anticipate the future of their rivers of cash – the recorded music industry, newspapers, commercial TV, publishing to name but a few.

3. Ensuring Robust Processes are in Place

While innovation is the promise of the future, execution is key to success. Having robust and reliable processes throughout the business, while no guarantees of market success, ensures its survival. Recall the 20th century brands that powered to global dominance from nowhere – Coca Cola, McDonalds, Toyota. Although none were remarkably revolutionary, their execution was faultless due to having the right, robust processes.

4. Keeping Key Stakeholders on Side

The CEO/business owner is the one person that can reach out to, and engage, valuable stakeholders. Firstly know who they are, then build processes and procedures to keep them all ‘in the loop’. It makes life so simple – yet how many of you do this?

5. Maintaining Good Corporate Governance

Because administering the business is perceived as ‘unsexy’, many CEOs and business owners at best palm it off to others and, at worst, ignore it. With regulations and responsibilities being further tightened up, the latter is no longer an option. Managed properly, this can be a very powerful resource for the leadership of the business. A strong constituted Board following approved and recognised processes and procedures helps to keep everyone on track, avoiding lengthy and costly legal disputes. It does, however, need driving and controlling – the prime responsibility of the CEO or MD.

No-one said that making the transition from a task orientated hands on owner/manager to a more focussed, analytical and process orientated leader is easy. This is why, as a business training expert, I coach, mentor and help to point CEOs and business owners in the right direction, focusing their attention and honing their knowledge and skills.

To help me to help you to make that transition, contact me on with a comment below, drop me an e-mail via or send a tweet to @richardwhatif.

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