July 3

Behind-The-Scenes: How The Powerful 5E Scale Engine Was Iteratively Developed

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The 5E Scale Engine is my method for super scaling a business. This was what I used to grow Vodien to a $30m business. However, while I knew the concepts, I didn’t know it would be called the 5E Scale Engine at the start.

In fact, I didn’t even know that a framework was needed. Everything was in my mind, and so when people sought my advice on how to scale up their businesses, I would just tell them.

However, the lack of a framework meant that it was more difficult to express and convey my ideas. It was also more difficult for people to remember and visualise what I was trying to say.

That’s when I decided that I needed to encapsulate my knowledge in a proper framework.

Here’s how the process developed.

Principles of Super scaling A Business

Super scaling a business requires several principles, and these must be done in a proper sequence. The methodology will have to cover everything from marketing to sales to Human Resources to operational excellence.

These are all concepts that I have in my mind, but the problem was coming up with a framework that encapsulates all of these concepts well.

I started off with just a basic step and went forward from there.

Iteration 1: Attract, Convert, Empower

ACE Engine

The first iteration of my methodology was Attract, Convert, Empower. I called this the ACE Engine.

Attract was all about marketing and how you can create marketing strategies to attract the right audience.

Connect covered creating relevancy in your offer so that you could create best-selling products.

Empower talked about how you can build a team of A-players.

This was a good framework, but soon I realised that it wasn’t comprehensive at all.

Problems:

  • I realised that the strategy and vision were not covered with this framework

So I scrapped this framework, and came up with another angle.

Iteration 2: Triple-E Growth Engine

drawing the triple-e growth engine, a method to scale business

This framework was a lot more holistic. It had 3 components: Envision, Empower, Execute. The Triple-E Growth Engine was born because I wanted to come from an angle where everything in the business could be covered.

I used Notability, on the iPad, to sketch out the drafts of this framework, and it slowly became the final version which was made up of concentric circles.

alvin-poh-triple-e-growth-engine
Triple-E Growth Engine

I even came up with the logo and drew out a diagram in Vectornator, on the iPad, depicting these concepts.

Envision talked about coming up with a vision to lead you and your business.

Empower is all about finding and hiring the right team.

Execute covered all other aspects of operational excellence.

This was a lot better than the ACE Engine!

Problem:

  • I soon realised that it wasn’t granular enough
  • Other important aspects, such as marketing and sales, weren’t given enough emphasis

Iteration 3: House of Scale

The next iteration saw an addition of the fourth E: Engage. I had previously lumped marketing and sales into “Execute”, but I soon realised that they were distinct concepts.

Both concepts required executional excellence, but the customer journeys and sales funnels needed a separate principle by themselves.

That led me to create the House of Scale.

Problem:

  • I discovered the lack of one last component of the methodology.

This iteration covered most of what was happening on the business, but it lacked something that was crucial for you to super scale your business.

Iteration 4: House Of Scale v2

house of scale Alvin Poh

This is an incremental iteration to my scaling methodology. It basically adds one last E: Evolve.

The main thing that binds all these concepts together is not knowing what principles are lacking. In fact, one of the keys to super scale is the mindset and mental models of the entrepreneur.

With this, I knew that the methodology covered everything end-to-end, and that it was comprehensive enough.

Problem

  • This framework was comprehensive, but the name was terribly unwieldy
  • In addition, it gave the feeling of being slow and immobile (which a house was) instead of super scaling (which needed to be nimble, agile, fast)

I went back to the drawing board again, and tried out other permutations of the name and framework. That got me to iteration 5.

Iteration 5: 5E Scale Engine

5e scale engine

Aptly happening at the 5th iteration, my methodology became known as the 5E Scale Engine. On top of the 5 E’s (Evolve, Envision, Empower, Engage, Execute), it also encompasses aspects of the original ACE Growth Engine, namely the “growth” part, and the “engine” part.

I loved the concept of an engine because it signifies automation and systems. A house felt too static to me, so the House of Scale wasn’t such a good concept.

And because this methodology focuses on super scaling instead of just growth, calling it a growth engine wouldn’t be very accurate too. Therefore the name “scale engine”.

Iteratively Progressing Your Goals

I hope that this process was helpful to all of you who might be figuring a concept out for your business, be it a framework, your product pricing, brand name, vision, or whatever.

iterative process of developing ideas

If there’s one thing that I learnt being an entrepreneur since I was 17 years old, it is that perfection is the enemy. It’s so much better to just start, put out an initial version, and iterate progressively from there.

If we’re at point A and want to get to point B, we all have the fantasy of going straight to point B. However, that’s hardly the case in reality.

Across all of my experiences, reality is instead a series of steps that you need to take before you get to point B. Sometimes we don’t even know how to start, but we just have to take a shot at what we think is the most logical first step.

Only then will we realise what we don’t know. And be able to tweak our plan and actions so that we take a second shot, but this time with more clarity and knowledge. This cycle repeats all the way until we get to our final destination of point B.

I never would have been able to come up with the 5E Scale Engine right from day 1. As you can see, it took me many iterations over a long period of time before I finally found the concept of the 5E Scale Engine.


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