It was a small change in copy that cost TechnicalLead a loss of over $200,000 a month in sales.

But in reality, the copy blunder happened because three key factors failed in the company.

As CEO’s, you and I play many roles, but none of them are more crucial than creating and managing these three factors.

Companies rise or fail on how strong each factor is AND how they harmonize together.

When a CEO works tirelessly to create growth but can’t seem to make it work, it is almost always because one or more of these three key factors are weak or they’re not harmonized.

Key Factor #1: Strategic Priorities 

The first Key Factor is Strategic Priorities.

Strategic priorities demand high-leverage thinking. It is not just about getting things done, it’s about seeing how to solve ten problems by solving one.

This can only be done when you have total clarity of vision.

You can set strategic priorities by asking yourself three simple questions:

  1. What, exactly, do I want the company to achieve?
  2. What is the number one obstacle stopping us from achieving that outcome?
  3. Who are the right people that can quickly remove that obstacle?

When you use these three questions, you’ll be able to craft strategic priorities that give power and direction to your leadership team.

“It’s the little things that make the big things possible. Only close attention to the fine details of any operation makes the operation first class.” – J. Willard Marriott 

Key Factor #2: People Placement

I love this quote from Elon Musk:

“I think it is a mistake to hire huge numbers of people to get a complicated job done. Numbers will never compensate for talent in getting the right answer (two people who don’t know something are no better than one), will tend to slow down progress, and will make the task incredibly expensive. – Elon Musk

As I’ve worked with hundreds of companies – ranging from huge organizations like Google to smaller outfits like B&B Electronics – I’ve observed that the #1 killer to hitting profit targets is having the wrong people in the right places.

For example, we did a consulting project with a division of Toshiba.

The objective was to increase revenue from their education channel – selling laptops and other hardware to universities.

The division lead was a strong leader, great with people and very charismatic.

He had a team of account executives who interfaced with the universities and colleges.

As I met the account executives, I realized that almost all of them were very task and detail oriented. The director was creating compelling presentations and then giving them to his team… who then delivered dry, boring presentations, almost totally void of persuasion.

The director could get sales and close big deals, but his team was struggling and the reason was obvious.

You need the right people, in the right place to execute your strategic priorities.

If people have been in the wrong place for a long time, it can be very hard to extract them. But if you want to grow, it must be done.

My wife and I have 11 children. We’ve learned that when you match the right chore with the right child, things get done very quickly. If you don’t it becomes a constant battle and you end up burning energy and making little progress.

These three questions can help you:

  1. What is the exact outcome I want to achieve? (Globally and project/task specific)
  2. What people skills and attributes are needed?
  3. Who has these skills?

“When hiring, try to surround yourself with people who are good in addition to being good at what they do. Genuine decency—an instinct for fairness and openness and mutual respect—is a rarer commodity in business than it should be, and you should look for it in the people you hire and nurture it in the people who work for you.” – Bob Iger

Key Factor #3: Systems

Consider this powerful insight from Safra Catz…

“Managers used to say, ‘I have a gut feeling.’ Do you know what a gut feeling is for a professional manager? It’s a pattern that they recognize. But if your system can recognize that pattern, if it’s not just a couple of managers who know that pattern, then the system’s gut feeling can tell you which way to go. That’s really liberating.” – Safra A. Catz

One of the most powerful advantages of living in our age of history is that we have access to virtually unlimited data of what works and what does not.

Even just 50 years ago, a CEO building a company had to venture into massive areas of the unknown. “If I do this, what will happen?”

Today, we have virtually unlimited knowledge and experience at our fingertips. We can take that knowledge – the lessons of cause and effect as they have played out in thousands of companies and with millions of individuals – and package it into a system.

Systems can be applied to every step of your business.

Systems become the foundation for innovation and creating new realities and solutions.

Systems give you freedom and efficiencies.

Systems come in the form of software, mechanics, best practices, company policies and dozens of other forms.

Once you know how to overcome the obstacles that stand in your way, you can create a system to eliminate those obstacles forever. As Safra said, “that’s really liberating”.

For example, at Strahes Consulting, we make use of five key systems that are proven to increase profits for our clients.

Yes, we tailor each system for each client, but only in the way you custom tailor a beautiful evening gown or sharp tux. Fundamentally, the dress and tux styles are already proven to impress… they just need to be tweaked to fit you.

You do not need to reinvent the wheel each time you need to wipe out an obstacle or create scale. You can use existing proven patterns. You can create a system that will create growth and free up resources.

Ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Has the challenge I’m facing already been solved by others before?
  2. What core principles did they use?
  3. How can I create a system that will permanently free me from this obstacle and create growth?

Bake Your Cake

I’ll end with another quote from Elon Musk…

“If you’re trying to create a company, it’s like baking a cake. You have to have all the ingredients in the right proportion.”

Each of these key factors needs to be strong. To bake your cake, begin with strategic priorities… then put the right people in place… then build systems.

This is exactly what we did with TechnicalLead. We discovered that the marketing team had lost sight of strategic priorities.

This resulted in hiring a copywriter that was out of touch with the vision of the company and needs of the customers.

Instead of using a proven system for success, the writer and marketing team began improvising instead of improving and sales crashed.

It was a simple matter of bringing these three factors into harmony and literally within days sales came back up and began to climb.

The same will happen in your company. I hope you enjoy your cake 🙂