increase business efficiency
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How To Dramatically Increase Business Efficiency: 5-Step ARSAD Funnel

One of the grails of entrepreneurs and business owners is to increase business efficiency. After all, time is our scarcest resource.

If you’re trying to scale your business right now, you must know the feeling of being strangled for time.

That’s how I felt when I was scaling Vodien. Everything in your business is demanding time from you and as a result, time becomes such a scarce resource.

I felt so frustrated at the shortage of time that I started looking at how best to manage time, free time up, maximise productivity, and increase business efficiency.

I wanted to squeeze every single amount of productivity out from the time that I was spending on my business.

It’s difficult to do because there are so many moving parts in a business and things change all the time.

If you are doing things ad-hoc and reactively most of the time, I can assure you that you’ll soon get overwhelmed, because that was exactly what I did initially.

The only way to improve things is by having a systematic approach when you’re thinking about how to increase business efficiency.

Systematically Improving Efficiency

increase business efficiency

If you have the mindset of being systematic in order to increase business efficiency, you start developing structure and sustainable ways to make permanent improvements in your business.

This was one of the more important concepts that allowed me to transform and scale up Vodien successfully.

I call the methodology that I use to create this hyper-focus to increase business efficiency the ARSAD funnel.

The ARSAD funnel has these 5 steps: Analyse, Remove, Simplify, Automate, Delegate

Analyse

The first thing that you need to do is to take a step back and analyse the work that is being done in your business.

A good way is to do this is with every person in your organisation, individually.

Everyone will have to log all the tasks that they’re doing so that the type of tasks and the the time used for each task is clear. With this, you can spot the inefficiencies and the areas of improvement.

The easiest areas to increase business efficiency can be found in recurring tasks and the tasks that take up too much time.

It’s crucial to understand where time is being spent, and then you can move on to answering the following questions:

  • What are the assumptions that you have with regards to the tasks, why they exist, and their utility?
  • What is the purpose of every task, and is this purpose being met?
  • What tasks are being done regularly?
  • How long does each task take to completion?

Remove

Next, you need to look at doing is removing any process that’s unnecessary or low-impact. This is essentially trimming the fat from the operations in your business.

I find this an absolutely crucial first step to take, and I don’t see enough people following this sequence of action. Too many people look at automation or simplification or delegation first, which ends up overly complicating matters.

The importance of the sequence reminds me of road bicycle racing enthusiasts. In road cycling, the weight that the cyclists carry affects their cycling speeds.

Some road cyclists try to improve their cycling times by investing in really expensive gear, such as carbon fibre parts in order to reduce the weight of their bicycles. These parts are typically very expensive, but can result in 50%-500% savings in weight.

However, because bicycles aren’t very heavy to begin with, these percentages translate into absolute amounts of a few hundred grams.

It boggles my mind, because these same cyclists aren’t the leanest that they can be. If they lose some body fat, they can get much more weight savings.

This not only makes the weight on the bike lower – it’s cheaper than buying expensive gear, and much better on your health and fitness.

But it’s the same thing as scaling up businesses and trying to increase business efficiency. Losing body fat is painful and not as fun as buying new gear. However, the ones who truly are committed and dedicated to improving themselves will do it.

I can guarantee that not everything is necessary in your business operations. You might find that you might even be able to close down entire product lines and come out leaner and faster and more profitable as a result.

Here’s a simple example. One of the things that we removed was the payment method of cash. Cash was something that we thought was a requirement to deal with traditional businesses.

However, cash, as a payment method, was a hassle. We needed someone to attend to the clients who came down physically to hand over the cash payment. We had to count the cash accurately and provide accurate change. We had to hold an amount of cash in the office as a result also, and spend time depositing the cash at the bank.

Besides the time that was required for this whole process, there was also huge risks of human error in counting the wrong amount of cash, or of theft or loss.

We decided to take the plunge and remove cash as a payment method, thinking that we could re-introduce it even if it failed.

We never had to.

All the objections that we thought we’d encounter, all the business that we thought we’d lose out on, they all didn’t materialise.

What happened was we achieved great improvements in risk, efficiency, and productivity instead.

Find out what assumptions you’re running on, and test to see if they’re valid. It could save you tonnes of time and resources when you’re trying to increase business efficiency.

Simplify

Once you’ve removed all the tasks that aren’t necessary or are distracting your business from its goals, you have to now simplify whatever tasks that are left.

Simplification is an art. A lot of times, things get more complex over time. I’m sure you’ve experienced a brand new computer being super fast, but slows down considerably over time.

That’s when you have to start cleaning up your computer and removing unnecessary junk.

Left unchecked, business processes are the same. You’ll need to simplify and streamline processes so that they can run optimally.

Here are some steps that you can follow in order to optimise your processes so that you can increase business efficiency.

Get Organised

The way to start is to clean up all the clutter and organise everything clearly. Take a look at your processes and have everything mapped out.

See if there are convoluted processes or processes needed unnecessary steps.

A good example is asking for approval. For example, perhaps you can state that all expense claims for amounts less than $10 can be automatically approved.

This will not only save time for your employee but for your administration department.

In addition, make sure ownership is clear for every step of your processes. Never put a team or have multiple owners for any step. This will ensure clear ownership and responsibilities, as well as reduce confusion.

Match the right task with the right talent

Your processes might be perfectly structured but might still be sub-optimal because of the people who are working on them.

Maybe you don’t have the right talent in your company because your hiring processes are flawed.

Maybe you have the right talent but they aren’t at their full potentials because they aren’t getting the right training, or your leadership isn’t optimal.

Whatever the case is, you need to fix it in order to increase business efficiency. Get the right people working on the right tasks, and you’ll see an immediate improvement.

Evaluate processes regularly

Processes aren’t fixed in stone. In fact, as a business scales up, it is normal to find that it outgrows previous processes.

Therefore, you need to regularly review processes to see if they can still meet their objectives efficiently.

A lot of companies have embraced the policy of “unlimited leave days”. This means that leave days don’t have to be tracked.

This makes sense because after all, the organisation doesn’t really care about how many days the employee is around. Instead, the employee’s is appraised based on how well he/she performs.

This means that if the employee is away for half of the year, he/she likely won’t have the performance to fulfil their job scope and will be terminated anyways.

Therefore, being intentional and evaluating your processes for the intent that you want can greatly simplify things.

Remember also that while systems may be led by you, processes are run by your team members. Get their feedback about processes regularly and understand if any processes are broken or need improvement or deeper investigation.

Promote better communication

Good communications is essential for good teamwork. If you can’t communicate well, you can’t increase business efficiency.

If you’re doing things by yourself, communications is pretty easy — hopefully! After all, you only have to make sure that you understand what and why you’re doing things.

However, introduce one more person to work with, and it gets much more difficult. Introduce a team, much less a large team, and it becomes exponentially difficult.

This all has got to do with the difficulties of communicating. There are many ways to improving this, or at least, making it no more difficult than it has to be.

The first thing to do is to ensure that everyone on the team shares the same values and believes in the company’s vision. If there is a fundamental misalignment in values or vision, then it makes communications even more difficult.

As an extreme example, if you are running a steakhouse, then perhaps hiring a vegan might not be the best fit for your team.

You have to understand that communicating intentions and decisions are probably more difficult when there is a fundamental conflict in an individual’s way of living and the business’s vision.

In more every day situations, we have to ensure that our hires match the values and vision that our companies have.

Secondly, invest time and effort into creating communication systems. This doesn’t mean software systems. It just means having a standardised way of communications.

Examples:

  • Only having meetings with clear agendas and objectives
  • Ensuring meetings have a facilitator, who also ensures that meetings do not overrun
  • Having guidelines on how projects are detailed so that there’s low chance of misunderstanding or miscommunication
  • Having a meeting cadence for regular communications upstream and downstream
  • Use common file naming conventions. E.g. (company name)(document type)(date), which results in ABC_Pte_Ltd_Proposal_051420. This removes the mess of having many individual naming conventions in your company, resulting in people being able to find and identify files easier.
  • Use common file repositories, like a shared drive, or cloud storage.

If need be, you should invest in communication software that promote the right kind of communication, such as chat software or project management software.

Software can potentially help increase business efficiency, but be careful of how you go about doing it: software should always be seen as a tool, not a solution.

Super Scaler Pro Tip: Don’t purchase software with the intent for it to be a solution to solve your problems. Always try to fix problems manually or the non-scalable, tedious way first, then invest in software that enhances your current working methods.

Automate

For me, automation is fun! Personally, I don’t like doing manual and time-consuming processes, especially if they happen on a recurring basis.

These sort of tasks are perfect to be automated using technology. Sometimes maybe the activity can’t be automated easily, but you can automate the decision process or the trigger for the activity.

The key is to break up the processes and find the easiest parts to automate. These are your “low-hanging fruit”, so always start with them first.

You don’t even have to be an automation expert. Google for more information about basic processes that you’d like to automate. For example, you can try:

  • How to automate report generation in Excel
  • How to automate PowerPoint slide creation
  • How to automate logins to a website
  • How to automate a file download

When you get bigger, you can even hire developers to help you with larger-scale automation projects. These can really help increase business efficiency dramatically!

In Vodien, one of our core functions was customer support. To augment the manpower that we had supporting this function, we built an automated troubleshooting wizard.

This helped our customer support officers by automating the process of troubleshooting and identifying common faults with customer accounts.

This greatly reduced the time it took to handle customer requests. Not only that, it greatly reduced human errors, and improved customer satisfaction.

Delegate

The very last component of the ARSAD funnel is Delegate.

Efficiency is obtained by having the right people do the right tasks. You can’t increase business efficiency if the wrong people are working on the wrong tasks.

Delegation should be a key consideration for anybody in your organisation. If someone else can do your job better, delegate the task to them.

I grew up in a family that valued hard work and grit. When I started Vodien with my co-founder, the two of us would handle and do everything that was necessary – accounting, marketing, finance, sales, product, research and development, literally everything!

When the business grew, I had trouble initially wrapping my head around letting go of my tasks. I used to think that delegating my tasks away would mean that I’m lazy.

However, on the contrary, it was actually the more responsible thing to do. My role as CEO wasn’t to be busy. My role was to grow the company, and I couldn’t do it if I was bogged down by doing day-to-day tasks.

This is especially true of your leadership team, not just the CEO. If any high-level executive is actually spending their time designing graphics or writing copy or anything like that, then your business is not utilising your manpower well.

If you find that you are the only one able to do the work, then you are the bottleneck in your company.

You should immediately look at hiring or developing a system around that task so that you can have that functionality handled by someone else in the company.

Find ways to delegate tasks so that you can focus on the higher-impact tasks. Your organisation will come out stronger as a result.

Increase Business Efficiency

The way to increase business efficiency is not by ad-hoc or one-time tricks and tactics.

The focus on increasing productivity and efficiency in a systematic manner is fundamental to the successful transformation of your business operations.

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CEO Tasks To Scale A Business
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10 Uncomfortable CEO Tasks To Scale A Business Powerfully

The top CEO tasks to scale a business: These are absolutely crucial. You must realise that the CEO is likely the highest paid employee, and as such, his time must not be deployed on low-impact tasks.

CEO Tasks To Scale A Business

The CEO of a business is the most important figure not because of the difference of hours worked as compared to the rest of the team, but the difference of the results that the CEO brings.

This point is tremendously important. It means that if you, as the CEO, are spending your time on tasks that anyone else can do, then you are wasting your time as the CEO and don’t deserve the role.

That’s why a CEO must be crystal-clear on what he needs to work on, especially when trying to scale up the company.

Owning the vision is the key fundamental pillar, which is an essential part of the 5E Scale Engine that I teach to scale up a company. Owning the vision also means the creation, iteration, and evolution of the vision over time – but more than that are some very critical tasks that the CEO will need to handle.

You might notice that these tasks are very different if you are a 6-figure CEO as compared to a 7/8-figure CEO in Super Scaling mode.

10 Uncomfortable CEO Tasks To Scale A Business

  1. Communicating the vision: This isn’t a small task. You need to tell everyone about the vision, because people are not mind-readers. And it’s not just repeating words off a page – you need to communicate the passion behind the vision, and the exciting future that it entails. Do this for everybody, but primarily for both your team and your customers.
  2. Owning the business strategy: Businesses are huge, complex beasts. It doesn’t help that they exist within an even more complex ecosystem. Your business needs a strategy, and this must be driven by the CEO. You should have the 3 pillars of a sound business strategy: Near-term, Mid-term, and Long-term.
  3. Be the public face of the company: this means taking on all marketing, public relations, and communications. You’ll need to be present on all kinds of media that are relevant to your target audience: traditional media and social media.
  4. Develop strategic partnerships: This is something that the CEO is best-suited for. You can engage with CEOs and top management of other companies so that you can form partnerships.
  5. Mergers and acquisitions: Organic growth is good, but don’t forget about inorganic growth through mergers and acquisitions. This can be for expanding revenue, acquiring market share, technology, intellectual property, or talent. As the CEO, you should be thinking, considering, and hunting for these deals.
  6. Build systems: You are the only one in the business who has a clear oversight of all departments and functions. Only you can spearhead initiatives and systems and drive the implementation.
  7. Recruit and grow an A-star team: One of your main roles is to build up a team. This means recruiting, onboarding, training, and progressing your employees. If systems are not in place yet, then you have to take care of this yourself personally.
  8. Resolving bottlenecks within the company: bottlenecks will form within the business, and department heads can’t solve them, especially if it spans across multiple departments. As CEO, you need to be the one actively putting resources to resolve these bottlenecks.
  9. Managing and raising capital: You should have a finance team, but the ultimate oversight of your business’s finances should lie with you. That means management of cash-flow and large expenses. In addition, if the business requires capital, you will need to be the person raising it.
  10. Developing products: You founded the business to solve a market gap. That market gap will change, so don’t neglect this. Your product and service must evolve with the times and changing customer needs. You might find that you have to create better pricing, better features, or even completely new products or product extensions.

These are just some important responsibilities that a CEO must bear. There are other CEO tasks to scale a business, but it depends on your business.

You and your business might have different demands, but the fundamental rule applies – use the ARSAD funnel to ruthlessly increase business efficiency, and focus on the tasks that truly bring your business forward.

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Scaling Up Your Business: Growth Vs Scale
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Scaling Up Your Business Successfully – The Definitive Guide (2020 Edition)

This guide has everything you need to know about scaling up your business.

So if you want to learn how to scale up your business, you’re in the right place.

Read on…

About the Author

Alvin Poh

Hi everyone, I’m Alvin Poh.

I started a hosting company from $0, and grew it to Singapore’s largest, with 35,000 clients and a team of 150. I sold the business for $30 million, and went travelling around the world.

Today, I’m going to show you why you need to focus on scaling up your business, how to do it, and the common mistakes that entrepreneurs make while trying to scale up their businesses.

Scaling Up Your Business: Growth vs Scale

There’s a big difference between a company in growth mode and a company in scale mode.

Scaling Up Your Business: Growth Vs Scale

Growth only means increased size. Scale means increased size, exponentially. The limits are your overheads.

Vanity metrics are metrics that seem to be useful, but are in reality just metrics that make you feel good without any actual use. In companies that are in growth mode, it’s common that vanity metrics are prioritised instead of actionable metrics.

Vanity metrics are things like more revenue, more clients, more employees, or more offices or office space.

An actionable metric is more exciting and interesting. An example of an actionable metric is your net profit.

Smaller businesses get into the dangerous trap of focusing on growth, which results in growing the business in size, but having little or even negative change in profits. Yes, their business might get much bigger, but their profits decline!

When you break away from growth mode and go into scale mode, you focus on increasing revenue with minimal (or none at all) increases in your costs.

The way this is done is by systems. Systems are the only way to exponentially grow by allowing you to handle more revenue without increasing your costs proportionally.

Challenges of Scaling Up Your Business

Once they have been growing for a period of time, business owners need to switch to scale mode ASAP. This is urgent because of two main issues that plague most businesses when they are in growth mode:

  1. Almost everything has been done manually or on an ad-hoc basis
  2. Everyone wore multiple hats and handled everything

If these 2 areas aren’t resolved, the business will continually feel like it’s going nowhere.

Work piles up. You and your employees get frustrated and frazzled. You take on more clients but lose drastically more time and don’t make much more profits.

That’s why you need to commit time, resources, and effort into making sure that these following areas are your priorities.

Common Mistakes While Scaling Up Your Business

There are many mistakes that businesses make as they try to scale up. These mistakes are common, and cause the business to suffer from delays, stagnation, spinning its wheel aimlessly, chaos, and possibly even catastrophic business failure.

StartupGenome studied 3200 high-growth technology startups. Their research found that the primary cause of failure is premature scaling. In fact, these findings show that you need to learn how to be scaling up your business properly:

  • 70% of startups fail because of premature scaling
  • 93% of startups that scale prematurely never break the $100k revenue per month
  • Startups that scale properly grow about 20 times faster than startups that scale prematurely.

Fortunately, if you approach scaling in a systematic manner, you can make the right preparations so that you don’t make the following mistakes. If you can find a mentor who has done it before, you can save tremendous amounts of time, money, and grief.

Marketing

  • Spending too much on customer acquisition before validating product/ market fit
  • Overcompensating for missing product/market fit with marketing and press
  • Spending in poor-performing customer acquisition channels

Product

  • Building out a product without having validated problem/market fit
  • Spending time and focus on “nice to have” features

Team

  • Hiring too many people too early
  • Hiring expensive specialists before they are critical
  • Hiring managers instead of do-ers
  • Hiring fast and firing slow

Business Model

  • Over-planning
  • No planning
  • Not having a regular feedback loop
  • Not adapting business model to a changing market

Leadership

  • No focus
  • Managing instead of leading
  • Owner not letting go of roles

Scaling Up Your Business The Right Way

Transitioning from a growth company to scale company will not be an overnight thing. You’ll need to be committed to the process needed for scaling up your business, and be ready to embark on doing these things.

Commit to scale

The first thing that you need to be prepared for is having a vision. This vision answers the “why” behind all you’re doing to scale up your business. You must have the desire to really impact your industry and customers.

This desire must be big enough for your business to scale up to. If your vision is only to make a salary of $10,000 a month for yourself, then scaling up might not be for you. If, however, you have dreams of providing for your entire team of 30 and being the top brand in your niche, then wanting to scale up is perfectly aligned with you.

A Vision For All To See

The one thing that binds a team together and keeps everyone working in the same direction is a vision.

This needs to be communicated to everyone in your team, from their first hiring interview and regularly after that.

How do you do that? You’ll need to create the tools and systems that allow you to achieve this in the fastest and most structured way.

Assign Clear Job Responsibilities

In growth mode, your business would typically need help everywhere. That’s fair – work loads haven’t grown enough to justify full-time employees working on them.

As a result though, your team members don’t have clear accountabilities. In scale mode, you have to quickly switch to building up systems to resolve all these legacy methods.

Shift from Brute Force To Scalable Systems

When scaling up, your business becomes a different kind of animal. You’ll also notice that decisions are more complex, and involve more stakeholders and consequences. In addition, your business growth will demand for more cash also, stressing your cash-flow.

These problems cut across IT, marketing, fulfilment, and other departments.

This is why systems must be properly built and introduced into your business. Manual, ad-hoc processes are no longer sufficient to handle your business’ evolving demands.

Systems are repeatable processes that people can follow. This reduces human error, frees up manpower, increases productivity, and releases resources. Focus on investing in IT and training to help you achieve this.

When businesses do not switch properly to scalable systems, service quality and fulfilment times suffer. When this happens, businesses spend more money to throw manpower at problems, and spend increasing amounts of time on fighting fires.

Hire A-players

Systems are the bedrock to scaling businesses, but people are necessary for driving those systems, strategy and innovation. The key is to find the right people to fit the right roles in your business.

You’ll need to evolve your HR systems to ensure a proper onboarding. Roles and responsibilities are more complex and no longer something that new hires can understand by “just diving into it”. Onboarding also means that you need to ensure and track that your new hires are performing well in the roles that they’re in.

Grow A-Players

Having scalable systems doesn’t mean that you will no longer need manpower.

Scalable systems mean that your manpower will be effective and productive. You will still need to have capable people in your business.

You, and the people who grow with the business, must also evolve to match the leadership demands. Most businesses find that the people who performed well in the past, no longer perform in scale mode.

That’s why there is always a pressing need to attract the right talent and retain them. A right talent is basically the right kind of person in the right kind of role.

In growth mode, you’d be focused on core functions such as developing your product, finding whatever sales you could, and marketing. In scale mode, you’ll need to develop those further, and in addition, start looking at non-core functions such as administration, payroll, accounting, and HR.

Become A Leader

You might have founded and grew your business till this point. However, scaling up a business requires you to evolve with it as well. What used to work for you in the past will not be sufficient when your business scales up.

One of the facets that you will need to have is great leadership skills. To improve this, start finding mentors, reading books, taking courses, studying great business people, and join entrepreneur communities.

Collaborate With Others

No scale company exists by themselves. Collaboration is one of the keys for scale. You will need to build up collaborative partnerships within your company, and with partners, suppliers, complementary service providers, and customers. This creates a network of value, which feeds your business.

Engage Your Customers

Detail your customer journey and ensure that you improve every step of it. This includes things from increasing effective marketing campaigns to improving customer satisfaction. This results in an turn-key, holistic view of your entire business.

Scaling Up Your Business

You were the founder and you did a great job of growing your business. To scale, don’t be the person still in charge of everything. Let your people take over responsibilities from you so that your time is freed up for strategic work instead.

Don’t make grave mistakes such as hiring the wrong people. It will drastically and negatively impact your business. This is just one example of the wrong things that you can do that will drive your business further into chaos.

Focus on the sequence of scaling too, because doing things in the wrong sequence will cause you to be even further away from your desire to scaling up your business. The big lesson: DO NOT efficiently execute the irrelevant.

The journey to scale up your business is a rocky and uncertain one. Look for help and support before you come across obstacles.

You want to be prepared for the unknown. Never test your reaction only when the situation demands of it. Remember that you don’t know what you don’t know.

There are entrepreneurship coaches, mentors, and communities out there that have gone through the whole journey. Learn from their experiences and lessons so that you don’t have to suffer the same mistakes.

I do provide mentoring, but due to constraints on my time, it’s selective and highly limited. If you’re like to see how I can help you scale up your business with the 5E Scale Engine, please send in a mentorship application.

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Transform New Employees Into High-Performers
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5 Things That Will Instantly Transform New Employees Into High-Performers

It’s an uphill struggle to even find the right candidate, much less how to transform new employees into high-performers. Looking for someone to fill a role can take weeks to months – and that’s if you’re lucky!

Transform New Employees Into High-Performers

I know I spent weeks and months trying to fill roles. Sometimes there’s a pressing need for talent, so every passing day feels like a wasted opportunity.

Once you do find someone and hire them, isn’t it then time to break out the champagne and take a break?

Not so fast. Hiring someone is not the end of your duties as the boss. In fact, it’s just the beginning. The onboarding process is something that very critical to empowering your new employees, so make sure you don’t neglect it.

One of the greatest things that you can do in the onboarding stage is to explain the “Why” to your new employee. When you do this, it helps your new employees connect the “Why” to the “What” that they are doing.

You’ll need to explain these 5 things to your new employees.

1. Explain Your Vision of The Company

Don’t expect people to be mind-readers. You need to tell your team why your company exists and what is your vision for the company.

This is especially important for new employees. Tell them what your company’s vision is, your company’s value proposition, and how your company is different from your competitors.

2. Explain The Relationship To External Stakeholders

Next, you’ll need to connect the new employee in this grand vision of yours. Walk your employees through their job responsibilities, and show them how their efforts matter to your customers.

The stronger that you can paint this picture, the greater the feeling of connection that your new employees will have.

This gives your employees a clear idea of why they’re doing the tasks they’re doing.

3. Explain The Relationship To Internal Stakeholders

A role in a company doesn’t exist in a vacuum. There are other roles, oftentimes in other departments, that depend on that role.

This is clear to management and to the boss, but not as clear if you’re an employee.

For example, it’s hard for Engineering to think from Finance’s point-of-view when Finance isn’t approving new hardware purchases. It’s much easier and much more common that people think everyone else is just trying to give them a hard time.

4. Explain Their Responsibilities

Don’t assume that doing all of the above is sufficient. Your new employees need to know how exactly to do their roles.

This is where you need to explain your expectations, and check that they understand and agree to them.

Once that’s done, you can have a system of checking in every few weeks to ensure that things are moving along smoothly. This is typically done with a monthly pulse, or a monthly review.

This gives your new employees an avenue to feedback their thoughts about their work as well, and to raise any concerns that they might have.

5. Explain Why They Were Chosen

This is a great opportunity to show your new employees that they weren’t just chosen out of desperation or luck. Tell them the exact reasons why they were ultimately chosen from the list of dozens of candidates.

If you have done your Job Description well, this point should be easy to pinpoint.

Every employee will appreciate this, because you’re praising them for attributes that they uniquely have. This reinforces why they’re a great fit for the role, and gives them validation to perform well at their role.

Transform New Employees Into High-Performers

Doing the 5 things above will set you apart from others, and most importantly, really empower your new employee hires. After all, you don’t want just random individuals in your team. You want high-performers who are effective and productive, and who are working together with you towards your company’s vision.

Does this help you? Let me know in the comments!

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5e scale engine
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5E Scale Engine: The Entrepreneur’s Key To Scaling Up 813%

The 5E Scale Engine came from true personal experience. I bootstrapped a web hosting company when I was 17 years old with no money down. It took pain and sacrifice, but I grew into the most popular product in Singapore, with tens of thousands of business owners as our happy fans.

On July 2017, I sold my company for S$30 million. I like to call it an overnight success that took 17 years to build.

After I sold the company, I felt strangely lost. I realised that a huge part of my identity was tied with the company, and selling it off had made me lose a part of myself.

I decided to embrace minimalism, sell off all my possessions, and go travel the world. While I was travelling, I had people approach me for mentorship, and I helped them.

Over time, I discovered that the lessons and experience that I had were invaluable in transforming the lives of my mentees. These were specifically the business and entrepreneurship scaling frameworks and systems that I used to grow my own business.

Next, I decided to spend several months distilling the lessons that I had gone through in my decades of entrepreneurship into the 5E Scale Engine.

How Does The 5E Scale Engine Work?

5e scale engine

The 5E Scale Engine is a methodology to systematically grow and scale your business efficiently.

Most marketers focus on numbers and the latest traffic techniques. The 5E Scale Engine doesn’t, and instead, focuses on what truly matters on a fundamental level.

This isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme. In fact, it's the complete opposite. It will take time. You will need to put in lots of hard work. And it will be difficult.

However, your business will then be able to scale up efficiently. And you’ll be enjoying the process because it's difficult but rewarding.

One thing that I never liked was sales. I always thought that sales was slimy and pushy and all about using the right closing techniques.

The 5E Scale Engine avoids all of that. Selling becomes fun, easy, and something that you look forward to because you’re now providing value to your customers – Value that they actually desire, and want to get from you.

With the 5E Scale Engine, you learn how to scale past 7 figures, become the top in your field, and serve a tribe of grateful clients.

This will change your life. I know because it changed mine – this will allow you to have great clients, a sustainable business, free time for yourself, and increased profits.

Are You Suitable For The 5E Scale Engine?

If you’re someone who can benefit from 5E Scale Engine, these points will describe you:

  • You’ve put in the hard work to grow your business from nothing to 6-figures or more
  • You find that growing your business is difficult and is getting more difficult week by week
  • Your business is doing 6-figures or more, but you’re not feeling successful at all
  • You are starting to drag your feet to the office and replying clients
  • You’re marketing your company the way all the online articles tell you to, but you’ve only gotten more tired
  • You don’t know where your next client will come from
  • You want more revenue, but dread having more clients
  • You have less of a life the more your business grows

If this describes you, then read on. You might just be someone who can benefit from the 5E Scale Engine.

I’ve designed the 5E Scale Engine so that you can have a business that gives you happiness and has a real impact on your clients.

What Is The 5E Scale Engine?

The 5E Scale Engine strips away all that is unnecessary and focuses on the essentials – one of my core life philosophies. The components of the 5E Scale Engine are designed to create a steady flow of committed clients for you so that you can serve them to the best of your abilities.

1. 5E Scale Engine: Evolve

The fundamental concept that you have to agree on is this: What got you here, won't get you there.

We have to analyse what you've done, throw away limiting concepts that no longer work for you, and introduce new ones that will work for you.

As the leader of your business, you need to grow if you want your business to grow. Everything that affects you on a personal level must be optimised so that you can perform at your full potential.

Think about the drivers of racing cars or the jockeys of racing horses. To be the winners in their races, it's not just a matter of the fastest cars or the fastest horses, isn't it?

2. 5E Scale Engine: Envision

The second component that forms the foundation of the 5E Scale Engine is ENVISION. Entrepreneurs and business owners have always been told that marketing is a cold and ruthless game of numbers. The more numbers you have, the better.

FALSE! That’s not efficient. Think about it: I can send you 100,000 visitors to your ice cream business, but if they are all people who are lactose-intolerant, you’re going to find that you’re not going to get much, or any, sales (does this remind you of your recent Facebook ad campaigns?).

I don’t believe in transactional businesses. I know that businesses, just like everything we do, are run by people, and if that’s the case, then how we run our business should be no different from how we behave every day as individuals.

I’ll show you how the power of ENVISIONING can connect you with people that love your message and product/service, and how this will translate into an insane level of results for your business.

You might even be surprised at how common business advice doesn't necessarily work for you.

3. 5E Scale Engine: Empower

The third component is EMPOWER. Scaling up a business in a sustainable manner requires that your team knows what you're thinking, and acts together in a concerted effort.

How you find and attract the right talent to join you is the first step. You want A-players on your team, but this might not necessarily be what you think A-players are. I show you the common fallacies of hiring, and get you to focus on a hiring process that will give you an A-star team.

Once you have an A-start team, you'll no longer have to worry about HR issues that bog down the whole team, and which you spend your entire day fire-fighting about. 

After you have your A-star team, the next step is to empower them to perform not just at the best of their own individual abilities, but together as a team. When you can do that, you'll harness exponentially more powerful growth as a result.

4. 5E Scale Engine: Execute

Only after you've done the first three steps can you move on to the next step, which is EXECUTE. One of the worst things that I hate is excess and inefficiency. That's why I've been absolutely ruthless in my businesses to optimise, delegate, eliminate, and automate processes whenever I can.

This increases your throughput and productivity, allowing you to scale up because you now no longer have the constraints that you used to have. 

It's like a sprinter who weighs 30kg extra. I give you the tools and know-how so that your business can shed all this extra fat. You'll be able to train and perform at your optimal levels.

This transforms your business from something you work in into something you work on. Your business becomes a well-oiled machine, allowing you to focus on strategy and growth.

5. 5E Scale Engine: Engage

ENGAGE is the last pillar of the 5E Scale Engine. We're talking about engagement with your customers and clients here. With any successful business, engagement is highly important.

Have you ever seen companies with great products that close down? I would bet that they didn't spend as much time on their engagement with their customers. A lot of entrepreneurs suffer from the "build it, and they will come" syndrome. Unfortunately, it takes more than a great product to become a successful business.

You'll need to plan out your customer journeys and ensure that you do things in the right sequence in order to engage your customers properly.

Proper engagement is the difference between your customers raving about your product, or nobody caring about you. When you do engagement well, your product sells by itself because your customers can't wait to tell their friends all about your product.

Implement The 5E Scale Engine For Your Business

Not everyone can benefit from the 5E Scale Engine, and everyone will need a different implementation strategy, so it’s not a mass-market solution.

I like working with action-takers who are providing a service that adds value to their customers’ lives. If you are interested in implementing the 5E Scale Engine, I offer a mentorship service where I work with you personally on a 1-on-1 basis.

If you’re an online entrepreneur who:

  • is looking to build a better business
  • want better quality clients
  • want a better relationship with your clients
  • want to maximise your profits

Then the 5E Scale Engine might be able to help you. Book a Super Scale strategy call and I will help you customise a strategy using the 5E Scale Engine.

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How to Find a Cofounder For Your Business Idea
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The Ridiculously Essential Guide On How to Find a Cofounder For Your Business Idea (2020 Edition)

One of the first obstacles business founders think about is how to find a business idea. The next is how to find a cofounder for your business idea. It isn’t easy. When I started my first businesses, I had the good fortune of meeting my cofounder in school.

I remember sitting beside him on the first day of school. It was orientation, and we were all in an auditorium. We hit it off as friends from then, and did everything in school together: assignments, projects, and even preparing for exams.

When the school holidays came, it was only natural that we decided to find part-time work together. That was how we started exploring doing business as a team, and my first business got started that way. I wasn’t even thinking of how to find a cofounder!

School is great because it was a great place to know how the person worked and operated in a controlled environment (school and classes). How do you replicate it if you’re not in school anymore? What kind of person makes for a good cofounder?

How to Find a Cofounder For Your Business Idea

What kind of Cofounder?

The ideal founding team is two individuals, with a history of working together, of similar age and financial standing, with mutual respect. One is good at building products and the other is good at selling them.

Naval Ravikant, Co-founder of Angelist

The first thing that you need to identify when thinking about how to find a cofounder is the kind of person that would complement you. This is both in terms of skillsets and character. My cofounders were strong in areas that I was weak in, and vice versa.

Cofounders typically have different personalities. For example, if you’re a daring risk-taker, you might benefit from a cofounder who is conservative and risk-averse. Or if you’re shy and introverted, a sociable and extroverted cofounder might help in terms of growing your business.

The other, more straightforward aspect is of skills. If you are a technical person, then perhaps you need a business cofounder. If you’re a business person, then perhaps you need a tech cofounder.

What are you strong in and weak in? The better you understand yourself, the better you know who you’re looking for. The worst partnerships are the ones that are too complementary, because then it’s hard to understand that value that you bring to the team.

How to Find a Cofounder with the right Values?

When I hire for someone, I look at both aptitude and attitude. This is going to be the same when you’re thinking about how to find a cofounder too. In fact, it’s going to be even more important.

Be it skills or personality types, who you are as a person cuts across everything. You need to find a cofounder with a set of values that align with yours.

Personally, these represent some of the more important core values that I possess, and I look for the same in my cofounder as well:

  • Integrity/Trustworthiness
  • Obsessed about building a successful business
  • Mutual respect for each other
  • Driven
  • Hardworking
  • Rebellious/Doesn’t conform to norms

The worst way to test for these values is to hear it from the person. The best way to test for them is to see them in action, which happens over time. It’d be great to work on smaller projects together at the start, so that you can understand them a lot better after seeing them in action.

What’s Important in A Cofounder?

I’ve had 2 major businesses, with cofounders that lasted since the day of founding. Besides all the technical aptitude and the important core values, the one thing that I found to be crucial is that all my cofounders and I share a healthy respect for each other.

In my small sample size, I have realised that founders have to be confident , optimistic, and a little “different” from everyone else. It could be their demeanour or their speech or their attitude to things or the way they behave. It takes a special kind of person to be a business founder and go through and ups and downs of starting and growing a business from scratch.

However, it’s absolutely critical that your cofounder and yourself understand each other, be willing to listen to each other, and respect each other. Your shared vision for your business must be greater than either one of you.

You must also be able to communicate and understand each other — directly and openly, because you can’t be walking on eggshells around each other. You must be able to discuss issues and arrive at mutually agreeable, logical outcomes, without it turning personal.

Where To Find A Cofounder?

The next biggest thing about how to find a cofounder is the question of “where”.

My cofounders and I all met in school. School was a great place to test for work ethic, because it was a low-risk environment in which you could see how each other worked.

There are other areas to look for a business cofounder. However, it’s much easier once you have a better idea of the kind of cofounder you’re looking for. If you’re out of school, here are some other ways that you can look for a cofounder.

Going back to school

The first thing that you can consider is actually going back to school. You don’t have to take a 4-year degree program. Perhaps you could take short executive courses in things that would be useful in the running of a business.

These courses attract the right kind of people to take it: driven people who want to improve themselves and are open to the idea of starting a business.

Cofounder communities, hackathons, and incubators

These communities exist to solve the problem that many people face: where to find a good cofounder? Personally, I haven’t heard of anyone having success here, but it’s a possible avenue. An example of these communities is CoFounderLabs.

Alternatively, you can try hackathons or incubators, which bring together people to work on startups. You will be either able to work on an idea of your own or join someone’s idea.

Friends and family

You have an existing social network – make use of it. Think of people who you enjoy working with, such as a coworker, or a fellow student, or even someone who provides a service to you, such as a lawyer, sales professional, and so on. It might be a time to be seeding a conversation or getting them at an opportune time, such as when they’re in between jobs.

Put the word out as well. Friends of friends can be extremely powerful. You need to be as detailed as possible though, but you shouldn’t outright say that you’re looking for a cofounder.

An example of a message that you can put out is, “Hey, I’m starting a business and I’m looking for a tech/business/design person. Do you know of anyone who is good with programming/business/design?”

When you get introduced to people, you can then start a conversation and see if they are even a good fit to begin with before you delve into further details.

Networking

If you have a very specific skillset that you’re looking for, a great place to find people is through conferences and exhibitions, or even online through LinkedIn.

It’s difficult, and requires time, but it puts you in touch with people with the exact skillset that you’re looking for. The hardest part about this is to find someone whom you’d enjoy working with, and who would be ready to join you in a startup.

The way to start this is by a simple conversation to get to know each other professionally before moving on to the details of your startup.

If you don’t even know what skillsets you require, I would recommend against even going for networking because it will potentially take up a lot of your time.

Job portals / Gig websites

Another way to find a cofounder is through small projects that you can work together on. For example, if you plan on starting a UX agency, you can outsource initial work to UX designers/Sales/Whatever roles and see if you find people doing good work. If you get along well with them, perhaps you can explore doing more together.

How To Find a Cofounder

Finding a business cofounder isn’t easy, but can be achieved with time and good fortune. In summary, when you’re considering a potential business cofounder, make sure the person:

  • Is as hardworking and driven as you are
  • Brings different skillsets to the table
  • Thinks differently from you, in terms of risks and perspective
  • Is someone whose opinion you respect and will listen to

Do you have any other tips on how to find a cofounder? Leave them in the comments below.

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how to pivot your business singapore
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How To Pivot Your Business Quickly During An Alarming Recession (Like COVID-19)

Learn how to pivot your business quickly with a straightforward process that combines innovating with determining product-market fit. For your reference, I will cover examples of business pivots in Singapore, and share more about the process of how to pivot your business quickly.

how to pivot your business singapore

Business Pivots In Singapore (29 Example Categories)

Here are some Singapore examples of business pivots during COVID-19, when things like quarantines, lockdowns, circuit breakers are in place and businesses is significantly impacted.

Most businesses have taken a big hit in terms of traffic and revenues. One of the things that help with learning how to pivot your business is to know and be inspired by what others have done.

You don’t necessarily have to take reference from businesses in your exact industry. In fact, if you can take ideas from what businesses in other industries are doing, you’ll have a higher chance of coming up with a more interesting innovation to your business.

Besides the obvious business pivots of shifting to e-commerce and direct delivery and the selling of PPE (e.g. masks, gloves), these are the more innovative business pivots. If you know of any others, feel free to comment below and I’ll add them in.

BusinessBusiness Pivot
Insurance agentsOnline consultations through platforms like Zoom. Purchasing and paperwork through Zoom and electronic signatures.
Ticketing platforms (e.g. SISTIC, Peatix)Pivoted to providing online streams and online events instead, so that performers can still get an income while working from home.
Theatrical entertainment (e.g. Sight Lines Entertainment)Shows shifted to Youtube, and even live-streaming online interactive shows through Zoom.
Real estate agents and property portals (e.g. PropertyGuru, 99.co)Offering video tours of properties, and completing property purchasing paperwork online through Zoom and electronic signatures.
Tuition and enrichment classes (e.g. Learning Out Of The Box, Good School)Shift from physical classrooms to online classrooms. Learning Out Of The Box also provides self-published guidebooks, an online community, and other learning resources for customers.
Universities (e.g. Auston Institute)Pivoted from face-to-face engineering university degree programmes to online short courses. Results from the pivot have eclipsed the original engineering degrees.
Restaurants (e.g. Bar Cicheti, Prepped, Bakeri, Ajumma’s)DIY meal kits on top of just delivery of ready-cooked food.
Supermarkets (e.g. NTUC Fairprice)FairPrice on Wheels is a van that visits different neighbourhoods and sells essential items.
Bubble tea (e.g. LiHo)Creation of DIY bubble tea kits for you to make your own bubble tea at home.
F&B tie-ups (e.g. Koi x Grain, Gong Cha x Wolfburger)The government stopped bubble tea businesses from operating independently, so tie-ups/collaborations provided a win-win situation for both collaborating businesses.
Beer breweries (e.g. Heart of Darkness)Sale of beer in growlers for delivery and takeaway.
Personal fitness trainers Shift from in-person classes to online classes via Zoom.
Team building/bonding activities (e.g. The Fun Empire)Shift from in-person activities to online events with home kits mailed to every participant.
Manpower rebalancing (e.g. Singapore Airlines)Flight crew redeployed to care for hospital patients and be transport ambassadors for LTA.
DoctorsTelemedicine instead of in-person consultations.
Medtech (e.g. KroniKare)Originally AI-driven chronic wound care, now also providing temperature monitoring for COVID-19 from their expertise with sensors and AI.
Classes like carpentry or leather-crafting (e.g. Tombalek, Atelier Lodge)Typically run in a lab or workshops, these providers now ship kits for home-based learning
Dating services (e.g. Lunch Actually, Divine Connect)Face-to-face/brick-and-mortar business model pivoted to providing everything virtually: consultations, dates, coaching, singles events, and learning events.
Tailors (e.g. CYC, Common Suits)A tailor around since 1935, CYC pivoted and started also selling fabric masks with n95 filters.
PHV/Taxi/Grab DriversTaking on deliveries on top of taking on passengers.
Online furniture stores (e.g. Castlery)Introduced AR to allow customers to visualise furniture in their homes through their IOS app. Introduced Virtual Studio, a 360-degree virtual tour of their studio to replace in-person viewings.
Physical therapy (e.g. SynPhNe)Rehabilitation is now done completely remotely without the need of a therapist being there physically.
Printing shops (e.g. Botak Sign)From regular printing, they have pivoted to producing and printing COVID-19-related essentials such as cashier shields, food delivery stickers, chemical-resistant labels, social distancing signs, etc.
Foodtech (e.g. Alchemy Foods)New B2C model to complement B2B with new products: Immunity Rice, baking ingredients, premixes, and collaboration meal kits with restaurants.

Learn How To Pivot Your Business

Change is a constant, but we won’t be prepared for it all the time. The worst kind of change is the sudden, unexpected kind, especially from black swan events. Black swan events, by definition, come totally unexpected and are extremely major in their effects.

The biggest event so far in 2020 has been COVID-19, and it has been devastating to how traditional businesses operate. It has triggered a recession, and has forced us to do things differently in terms of our lifestyles. This is especially true for businesses and the way that they operate has to adapt quickly to these changes.

Why You Need To Pivot Your Business

Businesses are starting to become asset-light, without expensive and limiting retail leases anymore. Think Uber, AirBnB, Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc.

The greatest relics of traditional businesses are brick-and-mortar retail businesses. These served the purpose when consumers would go to where businesses were in order to obtain their products and services. These days, consumers stay where they are and businesses send their products and services to the consumer.

We already see this happening with Ecommerce and traditional retail. It’s going to happen to other industries as well, such as entertainment and experiences.

If your business is facing the brunt of the recession, you definitely will need to and are seriously thinking of how to pivot your business. If you aren’t, but are facing pressures on your revenues and margins, then you have the fortune of time, but it is limited.

Anyone who has an over-reliance on a physical retail space or a physical showroom, should consider other means of delivering your product/service.

Not only does this allow you to expand rapidly away from your immediate geographical region, it also allows you to reach consumers elsewhere that you typically would not have. Not to mention divert funds from costly retail storefronts into marketing and logistics instead.

How To Pivot Your Business

how to pivot your business - double diamond

One of the frameworks that I use for designing a business pivot is the Double Diamond Framework. I used it when I pivoted from a service-based business to a product-based business.

Unless you do a complete change in business model, most business pivots will have you exploring the chain of value:

  • Do It Yourself: You simply teach to a group (e.g. a video or an online course), and your customer has to do all the work themselves.
  • Do It With Them: You hand-hold your customer and do it together with them (think personal trainers and coaches).
  • Do It For You: You do everything for your customer (think consultancies and agencies).

The foremost thing to do while in a business pivot is to consider the existing resources that you have at your disposal. For existing businesses, it’s most definitely almost always your existing customer base.

Look at what your customers need and what you can directly provide them. While you are executing on your business pivot, your foremost priority should be to develop a near-term pipeline of new and/or quick business opportunities. This will give you some revenue, and test/validate your business ideas that are driven by new customer behaviours.

If you’re a consultant, direct sales professional, or coach, you can shift your delivery to online very quickly. Zoom is your best friend, and I use some marketing and growth tools to automate the rest.

For more information about using the framework to pivot your business, I cover it in my free webinar masterclass on how to scale for freedom and profits.

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