How do you take a startup that is doing $1M in revenue to $10M?

Originally posted as an answer to a question posted on Quora - see the original post here




Every bit of profit should be kept from your hard-earned sales.

Zero to $1M is the hardest part. To the business owners that have accomplished this - my hats off to you. It is without a doubt the toughest part, and to accomplish it is no easy feat. It takes grit, foresight, dedication, and probably a little craziness. 

There is good news and bad news. 

The good news: Going from $1M to $10M is easy. 

The bad news? You can’t do it on your own. 

Here is the mantra that every business going from $1M to $10M in revenue needs to keep in mind: “Structure your approach for each business opportunity”.  Remember this. Write it in your diary. On your mirror so you see it every morning. Whatever it takes!

Structured approach for business opportunity means this: nothing here forward happens “by chance”. Getting from zero to $1M took trial and error, a bit of happenstance, likely some bandaid operations, risks, persistance, and maybe even some luck. 

But not any more. You have data now, which means extensive analysis is needed of what drove your initial $1M. Then you need to build action plans to explode each segment, measure against the set targets, and follow up, follow up, follow up. Organize everything into sections: revenue targets, expense management by line item - and then create plans to achieve each, and delegate responsibilities for achievement to capable team members. Measurements will tell you where to focus, and following up is non-negotiable. If you don’t follow up, you might as well forget it. 

The other change that needs to be made: Depend on processes, not people. Your friends and family that got you through the first stage were the best help you had. But now you need specialists and subject matter experts. Your childhood bud who took a few accounting classes handling your books may need an upgrade - time for a real CPA now. Your brother who you trust with your life was great at shipping out packages when you were sending out $500k worth of revenue… but unless Brother is an experienced Warehouse Manager now - time to upgrade. Experienced professionals will follow standard operating procedures, structured rules, and be held accountable to the metrics you will test them against (i.e. Did 100% of your shipments get out the door? Were financials prepared in 3 days or less for the previous month?) If not, time to fire and hire people who can achieve those organized goals you set out. Getting to $10M is not for weak of heart. 

$10M is a whole different game than $1M. But it is arguably the most fun part of the business growth.

You already got through the toughest part.


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