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How To Build A Business That’s Successful Whether You’re There Or Not


So many of my childhood experiences have defined my current understanding of the way the world works. One of them — seeing water coming to a boil for the first time in a glass pot — is the perfect analogy to illustrate how to grow a business without sacrificing quality of life. Today I run a multi-million-dollar company while taking over 20 weeks of vacation. The secret to my success: I have a Self-Managing Company.

A watched pot that did boil.

When I was about ten years old, I had a friend that I really enjoyed hanging out with and who often asked me over to his house. Whenever I was invited to stay over, I always accepted. One of the first times I stayed over, I came down to the kitchen for breakfast, and my friend’s mother had something on the stove that I’d never seen before: glass cookware. I was fascinated by the idea of a pot you could actually see through!

I went and looked at the pot, getting a side view for the first time of the process of water coming to a boil. I noticed that the boil starts with just one little bubble at the bottom. There was one bubble, and then suddenly there were 20 bubbles. Gradually, there was that fantastic moment where one of the bubbles left the bottom and went up to the top. Then the water really started to boil.

Identifying the bubbles and bubble-makers in your company.

Think about this bubbling pot image as you look at how to grow your business. The bubbles are the “multipliers” in your company — the projects, people, or processes that drive momentum and success.

If you create a culture where everybody has the opportunity to identify something on a small level that can be done faster, easier, cheaper, or with a better result, there are always team members who will grab the opportunity and become those first bubbles. When the bubble rises to the top, they get a big win.

After a while, this spirit of progress, innovation, and celebration becomes contagious. Everybody in the organization wants to create a bubble in their area that will make a big difference in your company’s results, and the whole pot starts to boil. This kind of engagement and ownership is the hallmark of a Self-Managing Company that bubbles away even when you’re not there.

A bubbling team creates its own momentum.

There’s nothing more exciting than being part of a bubbling company. Morale, momentum, and motivation all get a tremendous boost and become the fuel that keeps results multiplying and your business growing exponentially.

Once you get people focused on exponential growth and each team member identifies their area of improvement, they run with it, everyone self-managing to get their part done.

“Note-to-self” advice.

At some point, you’ll have to decide whether you want to be in charge of a boiling company or in control of the boil. Since you simply can’t be in control of all the multiplier improvements, I suggest you trust that people know their work and what’s best for the company.

Lead with a sense of purpose and support a healthy boil rate. If you create a big purpose, your team will fill it up with all the needed improvements to keep you moving forward toward that vision.

About the Author

Dan Sullivan is the world’s foremost expert on entrepreneurship in action. He is the founder of The Strategic Coach Inc. and creator of The Strategic Coach® Program. Visionary, creative, wise, playful, and generous, he is a true champion of entrepreneurs worldwide.

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