This is the story of how EOS / Traction helped me shape a business by design so I could live life by design and become an EOS Implementer.
We all have preconceived notions of what it looks like to be a successful entrepreneur. For me, it was that I was only going to get my company where I wanted it to go if I was its heart and soul.
That meant nonstop work, forever and ever. I was prepared to live and breathe nothing but hard work. My dad was also an entrepreneur and that was just the mentality I grew up with. I didn’t know any better.
For seven years, my business grew in size and complexity. I already had 27 team members, but I continued to take on more and more responsibility and wore so many hats. And in my head, I actually thought this was a positive thing. More work meant I was succeeding.
It wasn’t until I joined EO (Entrepreneurs’ Organization) and started to learn how to be a more effective leader. As part of the Accelerator program, I read many books, but Scaling Up and Traction was the highlight because they made me realize the story in my mind was not letting me grow as a leader.
There was a better way for me to work on my business instead of working in my business. By not allowing my employees to take ownership of their roles, I had actually become the biggest problem in my organization.
I needed to find a way to get myself out.
The Entrepreneurial Operating System: A model for success
When I learned about the EOS Model, I realized how to create a business by design. EOS shows me that business success required everyone on my team to be aligned with my company’s vision. This meant having the right people on my team who shared that mission. While personalities vary and it’s difficult to put a standardized measurement to them, I was able to measure object performance data that gave me insight into how well my company was doing.
Once these three key components were in place, I was able to identify issues that were obstructing our growth. We implemented the process of issue resolution. So instead of attacking every new challenge as a net-new occurrence, we consistently and effectively worked through issues as they arose (and they do) because we had a system for how to handle them.
Together, these components transformed theory and practice into execution. Discipline and accountability make performance attainable. Our company achieved traction, which meant everyone on the team became a master of their role inside the strategic and operational frameworks of the business.
Role refinement: Owners aren’t good implementers
Since I’m a process engineer by trade, I assumed I would be great at implementing Traction and EOS in my business. I was full of ideas for what I wanted to do in my business. So, of course, I started implementing EOS by myself because “I can do everything!”
But as my ideas fizzled and failed to gain traction, I began to realize how difficult it was to be both the owner and implementer. I felt like I was dictating the direction and that my team just agreed with whatever I said regardless of whether it actually made sense. It wasn’t enough to have the ideas. I also had to figure out how I was going to implement them and see them through. And it just didn’t work.
So I hired an EOS implementer to lead the implementation. Because this person was an objective third party, my employees felt free to voice their opinions and be part of the solution. And that’s when the breakthrough happened.
A leader leads: Empowering employees to take ownership
The first part of having a business by design is understanding the roles and responsibilities of each team member. We had to figure out who was accountable to who, what each of us was actually accountable for, who made the final decisions, and how we’d measure performance inside those accountabilities. So it wasn’t just a matter of having the right people, but having the right seats for those people.
As we worked through my company’s accountability chart, I realized I wasn’t really leading my team. I saw, clearly, how many things I was doing that were actually someone else’s responsibility. These were things those people wanted to do for my business…things that I had hired them to do.
And the reality hit me that I was actually cheating my team. I was cheating them because I wasn’t allowing them to take ownership of their tasks and responsibilities. They didn’t have any skin in the game because I wouldn’t let them. I had to be involved in every decision.
Once the team and I got aligned around our accountability chart, the flow of the whole business changed. Our weekly meetings were different. People were energized. Communication improved. I saw how eager everyone was to step up and solve issues.
And little by little, I realized that I really didn’t need to be involved in every decision. They cared just as much as I did. My job wasn’t to do the work, but to empower my employees to take ownership of the work.
One year after my team and I went through this process, with the tremendous support of our EOS Implementer, my company’s gross profits grew by 16% and our profits by 400%!
From “Business by Design” to “Life by Design”
Ultimately, I was the problem in my business. Once I created my business by design, my business was able to run – and be profitable! – without me being so deeply involved. And I started having all this extra time on my hands that I had absolutely no idea how to use.
And that’s when I started the process of building a life by design.
At the time, I felt like I was losing my sense of purpose, even my sense of self. Who was I now that I wasn’t the guy spending every hour of the day and night working on my business?
So I signed up for something called WHY Discovery. This process took me on a journey of self-discovery where I thought about things I had never even considered, like my purpose in life and what my core values were.
As I worked through the process, I discovered that my real purpose was – and always had been – for people. I didn’t really care about what my business product was or did; the whole reason I created my business was that I wanted to empower people so that they could live life by design. I wanted to have a company that people were excited to work for because it gave them opportunities to learn and grow.
What I loved most about my business was being in a position to empower my employees to take ownership and grow not just as employees, but as people.
That’s when I started to realize that my role as an entrepreneur was to be someone who had a positive impact on my community and who contributed to society.
Since I had more time, I took the lead and chaired the EO Accelerator program in South Florida for 3 years. We grew the chapter from 16 to 55 participants and saw the impact it had on them and their people. I watched all of these entrepreneurs start to empower their teams to take ownership and scale as a result.
I was living my WHY. I was following my passion. I was empowering people to live their lives by design, just as I was. I realized that I had the tools, resources, and personal experience to help people with that and decided to make it a full-time commitment. I got certified as a trainer for Traction Implementation, WHY Discoveries, EO Accelerator, and Forum Mastermind groups. Now I use my passion for teaching and business to help entrepreneurs create a business, and a life, by design.
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