Our industry is littered with leaders like me: uber-determined, homegrown, and self-taught. I don’t have any formal training in business, finance, or management, yet I lead a 30+ year-old company that’s growing in size and revenue every day. I’ve made it this far mostly by brute force and some trial and error. But that is no way to scale.
Recently, with the enormity of COVID having been thrusted upon the world, I’m compelled to take a deeper look at how I lead and invest both financially and culturally in my own company. I’ve recognized two overarching influences that have significantly realigned and reshaped Vertican in 2020: purposeful intent and a little bit of luck.
I’ve taken in a lot over the course of this pandemic. Like many small business owners, we’ve had some growing pains along the way, sure that’s how we grow. But I’ve also immersed myself in not only the business of collections but the business of learning. Being teachable and having an openness to guidance by the right people is precisely how luck finds you. You must intentionally clear the path for it.
Early last summer, while on a business trip, a fellow industry leader asked me a question that would change the trajectory of both Vertican as an organization and me as a business owner. He asked if we practice the Rockefeller Habits. Well, truth be told and mildly embarrassed, I confessed that I didn’t know what he was talking about. He suggested the book, Scaling Up by Verne Harnish.
So I read it that very night. I literally could not put it down.
I have read countless business books, but this one was so pragmatic. It was more like an instruction manual. I bought a copy for everyone on Vertican’s leadership team. I re-read the book. I researched and contacted the publishing company. Long story short, six months and a series of events later (oh, and by virtue of a little bit of luck), I ultimately engaged with a company called Petra. Petra is special because they don’t just “assign a coach”; they’re a team of coaches and have an entire program surrounding a reinvention, if you will, of Scaling Up. Andy Bailey, one of Verne’s protégé’s, started the company to help small businesses implement the Rockefeller Habits, thereby guiding them beyond their “stuck points” and onto alignment, growth, scalability and purpose.
Needless to say, we started an initial collaboration with Petra in January and by early March we began implementing hardcore strategies into the way we manage the business. We quickly began to pivot our business model. We started having daily and weekly meetings while realigning goals. We started creating priorities. And we started these habits at the exact right moment.
You see, as soon as the pandemic hit, like many other companies, Petra too shifted their business. But not in a reactive way. They became a resource as opposed to just going virtual like everyone else. They shared their entire business network and their respective resources (i.e. COVID guidance, employee engagement, PPE and cleaning supplies access, government filings, SBA loans to create liquidity, etc.).
We went from essentially a bootstrapped entity to amassing over $1.9 million in liquidity. And I credit our ability to do that from our meeting rhythms, and Petra’s transparency and community of business leaders. Much of the information they provided us came from their previous coaching clients. For example, one who specializes in small business lending supplied critical resources to help us navigate through the COVID convolution and set us up for financial success. As a result, our EIDL application was in literally first. We received our PPP money in the first wave. They gave us templates to enable us to analyze our P&L, receivables, etc.
Of course, all of this took a lot of work. Yet without these resources, and little bit of luck (the Scaling Up recommendation, connecting with Petra, the pure timing of it all), I am not convinced that Vertican would have survived the first month or so of COVID.
As a self-taught, unpolished business leader, searching outside of myself and outside of my team for expertise has been invaluable. Suffice it to say, you wouldn’t let an accountant fix your roof. When it comes to legal collections and legal collection workflow, Vertican is the expert. Our clients come to us, they step outside of their teams, to put their trust and investment in Vertican. But when it comes to leadership and growing a business, we are not the experts.
Still, there’s no way that I could write this and tell you that I had the foresight to hire Petra. I could never have predicted the significance of a simple conversation on a business trip, this series of events that would follow, and how the two would be intertwined.
But luck is a funny thing; it’s ultimately the kind of thing where you only find it once you set yourself up for it. In other words, if you put yourself in a position to win, you win.
Yes, Petra helps to broaden the horizons of leadership and management styles, but it’s more than that. It’s branching out to having an open mind to a new way of doing business. There’s a lot more money, time, and clarity on the table than you may think.
Whether you are a seasoned professional or at the early beginnings of your career, factors like goal alignment, meeting rhythms, and measuring feedback are a few of the whys that make implementing the Habits worthwhile. I’m happy to share some of the most significant lessons that I have learned from Scaling Up and my work with Petra. To learn more about my experience, you can reach out to me anytime.
*I am not an affiliate or spokesperson for Verne, Andy, Scaling Up or Petra, nor am I compensated in any way by them.
Free Growth Tools
Download PDF versions of the growth tools used to implement Scaling Up. This download includes the 4D Framework, One Page Personal Plan, Functional Accountability Chart, Process Accountability Char, SWOT Worksheet, 7 Strata Strategy Worksheet, Vision Summary, Cash Acceleration Strategies and The Power of One.