In this episode of the Multiplier Mindset Podcast, business coach Dan Sullivan reveals the secrets to achieving 10x business growth as an entrepreneur. Learn how to simplify your approach, eliminate unprofitable activities, and attract big clients by setting conscious goals and focusing on your Unique Ability. You too can increase your income, enjoy more personal freedom, and achieve greater business growth.
Here's some of what you'll learn in this episode:
How to achieve 10x growth as an entrepreneur by focusing on four freedoms: time, money, purpose, and relationship.
The structure and process of 10x thinking and how it differs from 2x growth.
How to simplify your approach and eliminate unprofitable activities.
The importance of setting conscious goals and eliminating unnecessary deadlines.
It's vital to your success to focus on your Unique Ability and find others who are better to handle tasks outside of it. This allows entrepreneurs to achieve greater success and personal freedom.
Setting conscious goals and eliminating unnecessary deadlines is a powerful way to simplify your approach and attract big clients.
Focus on setting lifetime goals and continually improving, rather than retiring. This requires a lifetime commitment to being an entrepreneur.
Strategic Coach has grown 250 times larger by staying within its Unique Ability, using its philosophy to help thousands of entrepreneurs achieve greater success and happiness in both their personal and professional lives.
Dan Sullivan: Hi, this is Dan Sullivan. I’d like to welcome you to the Multiplier Mindset Podcast.
First of all, what prompted this thought is that I personally coached over the last 49 years, roughly 7,000 very successful, very talented, very ambitious entrepreneurs, and all of them have done ten times once, twice, three times, four times, but it’s sort of instinctive on their part. And what I’ve noticed from all that, there’s actually a structure to ten times. So I’ve captured the entire structure of how one goes ten times as an entrepreneur and just laid it out as a unique process with a lot of other considerations.
It’s a real pleasure. After almost half a century of coaching entrepreneurs, almost all of them have done it numerous times. And so I just want to show what the structure and process looks like.
It’s actually easier to go ten times than it is to do two times for three reasons. One is that it’s a lot more exciting. Going two times, you’re kind of rearranging the furniture and you’re making little nips here and little tucks here. The other thing is that your team isn’t really all that excited about it. So that’s one reason.
The second one is that it’s more of a fresh start because if you’re doing two times, you’re trying to drag about 80% of the past into the future, where when it’s ten times, you’ve got to say, “Well, I can’t do that with 80% of what I’m doing. I can take 20%.” So there’s the 80/20 rule right off the bat. A lot of stuff that you’re doing, the 80% of it isn’t profitable, number two. And it’s not even effective anymore. It was effective at one time, but you just continue to do it by habit. Whereas 20%, you got to say, “Well, I got to really look at this differently.” And one of the things you have to look differently is “Who am I getting my money from? Which team members are best? And what should I be doing that’s just the most important activity?” So everything gets really simplified with the ten times thinking.
And the other thing is that immediately your own goals are ten times. You notice there’s a lot of other people doing that that make themselves known to you and want to be part of what you’re doing, where if you’re just going two times, you don’t attract other big players. And you also attract big clients who are very excited with someone who’s trying to go ten times. So it’s got everything going for it. And the other thing is, it’s your timeframe. It’s your timeframe when you want to do it. I mean, if you say, “I have to do ten times next year,” you’re probably not going to do it. But if you say, “I’ll do ten times in five years.” Well that’s very doable. That’s very doable. If you’re eliminating 80% of what’s dragging you down right now, I think that’s very doable.
So, just an insight I have is entrepreneurs don’t drive themselves crazy with their goals. They drive themselves crazy with their deadlines. It’s your call when you want to do it. You’ve already done it. If you’re a successful entrepreneur, you’ve done it two or three times, but you didn’t know how you did it. And our book tells you how you did it.
First of all, ten times is a conscious goal, the way that we lay it out. And one of the great distinctions we make that most people think we’re just talking about money, and we’re just talking about revenues. And what I find is that right now you’re probably maxed out of the ability to increase too much of your money. You’re probably overworking, you’re probably putting in long hours, it’s getting harder, and you’re trying to work harder and longer to get ten times, and I would say you’re probably reading the book because you’re totally maxed out. Your head has hit a ceiling.
And so what we go after first is ten times in four areas of freedom. So you want to increase the amount of freedom of time you have both at work, you’re just doing things that you love doing and things you’re great at, and personal life, if you’re actually taking more free time. And what we’ve discovered is that if you just take your present amount of free time, let’s say you’re taking three or four weeks off a year, if you double it to eight weeks, you’ll immediately take a huge jump in income. Okay? And it just happens because everything is urgent when you’re not taking free time. But if you take free time, you come back, you notice that about half of what was urgent you didn’t need to do anyway, half of the other half is not really urgent, and there’s two or three things that are urgent, and you come back and you do those right away and you take a big jump.
Freedom of money is that you’re trying to make money from the wrong people, and 80% of anybody’s client base is costing you money. It’s only the top 20% of your clients or customers who are actually putting you into profits. All your profits in the top 20% of your client base, I mean, this takes real courage, but if you were just to stop working with the bottom 80% of your client base yourself, and you just focus yourself on the top 20%, you would immediately take a huge jump.
And I would say freedom of relationship. You may be getting a lot of money from people, but you don’t like them, and your team especially doesn’t like them. And if you just eliminate the big check people who are disagreeable and they cause a lot of trouble for your teamwork, immediately you’ll take a jump in income.
And freedom of purpose that have a goal way, way beyond ten times and say, “If I do ten times, what’s this going to mean to me in 25 years?” In my case, I’ve got my clients thinking 50 years in the future, then they realize that money is just a very, very small part of leading a really great life over the next 25 to 50 years.
So you go after freedom first, freedom of time, freedom of money, freedom of relationship, freedom of purpose, and it’s quality. You get a massive ten times increase in quality of life. And the ten times greater income is just a byproduct of getting greater freedom and greater quality in the other parts of your life, which you probably have sacrificed to get to where you are right now. And it’s time to go back and insert the quality rewards for being a successful entrepreneur.
So people ask me, “But what if the prospect overwhelms me?” And I would say right off the bat that you’re measuring your progress in a completely wrong way. What I notice is a lot of entrepreneurs are very, very successful, but they see themselves as failures. And the reason is they measure forwards instead of measuring backwards. We visualize and we aspire forwards because we have to have goals. But as soon as you have the illumination of a big goal, and it’s showing you where progress can be made and that you cut off all measuring forwards and you measure backwards. And what I mean by that is today you’re going to set a goal for yourself and you’re going to make really good progress towards that goal, but you’ll have a temptation to measure it against your ideals. And ideals are not achievable. They’re for illumination.
And so the moment you make progress, and that can start as early as each night, you measure, “What did I accomplish today?” You accomplish quite a bit. But if you’re always measuring it against some far off unattainable ideal, then you’ll just make yourself unhappy. You’ll just make yourself discouraged.
So if you’re overwhelmed right now, you’re just measuring everything in your life wrongly. So just start measuring backwards at the end of each day and say, “I made great progress today. What could I do like that tomorrow?” And you just keep your sights on where progress is immediately available, progress is immediately accessible. And then you measure at the end of each day. I never measure forwards. I aspire forwards, but I only measure backwards.
When it comes to the ten times goal that we have written up, that Ben Hardy did such a masterful job of writing the book. I mean, these are all our ideas that we’ve created inside Strategic Coach. But Ben is an incredibly better writer than I am. I mean, he’s a spectacular writer. So that’s one thing is that I’m really good at setting goals. I’m really good at making progress, but I’m not good at doing a lot of the details or the how’s that it takes to get to the goal. So my first thought when I set a goal, I say, “Okay, now who’s going to do this for me?” And I’m not looking for people who are inferior to me. I’m looking for people who are way better than I am.
So that’s the first thing, is that our company in 33 years, we’re 250 times bigger than we were when we started the company. My partner and I, Babs Smith, we started the company in 1989, as far as the workshop program. The present form of the company started in 1989, and I am doing about 10% of the work, the kinds of work that I am doing at 250 times higher than I was doing when we just started.
I’m great at about three things. It’s like a circle, and we call that a Unique Ability in Strategic Coach. And I’m just staying inside my Unique Ability, and it’s like electric collars on dogs. Anytime I get near the border between what I am great at and what I’m not great at, my invisible collar goes up and says, “Dan, Dan, don’t you go across that line. You get somebody else to do that.” And people like being heroes to you, when you’re not interfering with their work, you’re not doing something that someone can do.
So that’s a huge mindset, and that’s life in general. That’s not your entrepreneurial business. I just don’t do anything I’m not good at. As a matter of fact, I don’t do anything that I’m... I know it and other people know it that I’m really great at. And greatness attracts greatness. If you are doing great work, you’ll attract other people who want to do great work with you. So that’s a big mindset. I’ll leave you with that one because I’ve got more coming.
I love ten times. I love the idea of it and all of our entrepreneurs, and we’ve had 22,000 entrepreneurs in the last 33 years who have really gotten a handle on this ten times concept. Their lives are happier, their lives are easier, their lives are more enjoyable, they’re more enjoyable to be around. They keep growing in their business life, but they also keep expanding greater and greater joy and happiness in their personal life. And I think one of the things that a lot of entrepreneurs just don’t come to grips with right from the start, because it’s not a usual path, only 5% of the adult working population are even technically entrepreneurs, namely that nobody guarantees their income.
But a lot of entrepreneurs, even though they’re successful, they’re really talented, they’re kind of fuzzy about what they’ve actually done when they decide to be an entrepreneur. And the first thing I tell them, I said, “First of all, when you start out on this path, it’s a life sentence. Once you start on the entrepreneurial path, you can’t go back to another way of living. First of all, they won’t have you back because there’s this big gap in your resume that you can’t explain. So one of the things that this is not just a way of making money. This is a way of living your whole life. So take it right to the end. How long are you going to live? And just say, ‘Well, that’s how long I’m going to be an entrepreneur.’”
Everybody in Strategic Coach Program with very few exceptions, has a lifetime goal that’s over a hundred years. And I say, “If you’re constantly doing better and you’re constantly doing work that you enjoy, retirement makes no sense.” So I’ll be 79 in a couple of months, and I feel that everything I’ve done up until now is just R&D. My goals at 79 are phenomenally bigger than they were when I was 49.
And my work is showing it. I mean, I’m doing the best work of my life right now, and I’m in great shape. I’m in great physical shape. I’ve got great friendships. I’ve got a great personal life. I’ve got a great lifetime partner. I’ve got great team managers who actually manage my life. I’m a managed person and I’ve got all sorts of managers, one of them conducting this interview, and he kind of tells me when to show up. He kind of tells me what I’m supposed to do next. Now it’s all my goals. It’s all my goals. He just takes my goals and structures them so that I’m just doing what I’m supposed to do.
So Frank Sinatra did not move pianos. Frank Sinatra did not clean up afterwards. Frank Sinatra didn’t do the work of the other musicians. He just went on stage and did the one thing that he was great on, and that’s singing. And all great performers, they don’t manage their lives. Other people manage their lives. So there’s a big, big thought, but if you don’t grab that and you don’t live by that, your life sentence is going to be a very painful life sentence.
The people I deal with make millions of dollars a year. They’re so far beyond where they grew up with, who they grew up with. They’ve just gone into the stratosphere, but somehow they don’t really take ownership for their life. They’ve made up a game that’s called their entrepreneurial career, and then they fall into the weird kind of thought that someone else is making them play this game. Not only that, but they’ve kind of made up a game where, in their mind, they can only lose because they judge themselves harshly. They don’t take credit for their successes. And whenever they’re successful, they beat themselves up for not achieving more.
And I said, “What a weird thing, to design a game for yourself that’s supposed to give you more and more freedom in your life, and you design the game so you’re always losing.” So the ten times is easier than two times, the underlying theme of it is really that designing a ten times game is a game that you can win a lot more easily than a game where you just do two times, two times, or 10% or 5%. That’s a losing game. Go and work for the government. Go get a job with a bank. Then somebody else will beat you up. But in this game, you’re beating yourself up. It’s not a smart thing to make up a game where you’re supposed to be winning, but you set the measurements so you’re always losing.
When you talk about entrepreneurship and being a ten times entrepreneur, you have to realize that entrepreneurism, as we understand it, is really a very recent phenomenon, and it’s only been possible in the way that we understand modern entrepreneurism since March of 1776. 1776 is famous for a lot of different reasons, but March, 1776, a Scotsman by the name of James Watt created the first steam engine that returned 25% more energy than it used. I would say that that that jump in productivity through mechanical means is what really opened the whole entrepreneurial future.
All of a sudden, people who were nobodys who had a bright idea and were able to take advantage of this new energy source, became a class of people that you had never seen before on the planet. And ever since then, there’s been these constant jumps in productive technology. And I would say that we’ve been building on that for two and a half centuries. Basically, we’ve been doing it.
And so this is an entirely new way of living on the earth. It’s not a function of who you were born to. It’s not a function of how you were educated. It’s not a function of who you know, it’s a function that there’s multipliers in technological form that anybody who’s got a ambition for themselves and they can create a new something in the marketplace that creates value for other people can be really successful entrepreneurs.
As a matter of fact, the first definition of entrepreneurism that really describes modern entrepreneurism is in 1804. This is about 30 years after James Watt, and I think that he was a French, what we would call an economist today, Jean-Baptiste Say, and he said, “An entrepreneur is someone who takes resources from a lower level of productivity to a higher level of productivity.” Nobody had ever described entrepreneurism that way before, but it totally says what really successful entrepreneurs do today. And he was asked about his definition and they says, “Well, what kind of resource?” And he said, “Any kind of resource, including yourself.”
So it’s the first time that an individual could look at themselves and they could constantly multiply it to a higher level of entrepreneurism. For all human history that was not possible to do in a moral, ethical, and legal way. You had to steal things, you had to use slaves, you had to plunder to be a really successful entrepreneur. And that all changed in March of 1776, and I don’t think it’s any accident that the American Declaration of Independence was about three or four months later. And because America, as far as I can see by reading the US Constitution, is a representative republic with a set of rules that’s just designed to attract and encourage really, really successful entrepreneurs.