Founding a company is hard. Creating something out of nothing based upon your limited expertise, your investment of time, money, and resources can take everything you have. You build your business piece by piece with a lot of hard work, grit, perseverance. With some luck, you have enough revenue to bring others on the ride with you.

Acumen is the fourth time I’ve been a part of creating something out of nothing. (that is a stupid sentence to write – I must be insane or something)

The first company I built was a video production company. It closed after September 11th, 2001. Yes, that September 11th. Every contract I had canceled in 48 hours.

That disaster created the opportunity for the second company, which was a classic entrepreneur story. Three partners came together to sell something new to old clients when the original business model broke. We were making money almost immediately and, over the next ten years, scaled the company until selling.

Then I started a sales and process consultancy.  This company turned into a few regular “jobs” where I came alongside other owners to help build their company and break through plateaus.

I took that experience and partnered up again to build something that combines all of the above experience into a platform for business impact, Acumen, where we come alongside business owners and CEOs in a mastermind and peer advisory team to help you and your company grow.

As I look back over the various stages of my career, especially when we started a company from nothing, I reached an inflection point each time.

This point is where most entrepreneurs get stuck.

“I’m the top salesperson, so I can’t focus on anything else. “

“All I do is put fires out all day. When am I supposed to work on the business?”

Be stuck for a while, and it becomes how you do business. This is what we call a lifestyle company. It creates a job and enough cash to give you a lifestyle. That’s OK too. Many business owners thrive in this situation.

This situation will cause problems though, if there are constant cash crunches, high employee turnover, or you become unhappy with the time commitment being married to the business.

What is an owner supposed to do?

Become the Multiplier.

“But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

I shared my background above because, in every company, there was a season where I had to go up into a helicopter and look down on my business and make a decision.

Who was I in the business? Where am I the best fit? The business flywheel is working, so how do I scale?

Let’s do some math. (fun – right?)

5 + 5 = 10.

This is your lifestyle company. Consistent business and OK returns. In this equation, you are the “+.” You add things together to make more. Addition can only get you so far. There are limits to size and scale. You may feel you’ve hit the ceiling or wall. Perhaps you’ve been flat for multiple years working with the same or even more energy.

When you want to scale, you need to change how you lead your business and who you are in it.

5 x 5 = 25

In this equation, you are the “X.” By changing your role and how you think and work, you begin to multiply your company’s business cycle and increase the returns in your business. Scale happens when the numbers grow using your multiplier effect.

How do you do this?

If you don’t know your strengths (and can name them), understand the best use of your time, can write down your most important (not urgent) activities to drive your business, then it’s time to look in the mirror, and then your business. There are volumes of books on this part and not the focus of the blog. But, know that this all starts with you, the leader.

Do you know the state of your soil?

The question you need to ask yourself right now is, who are you in the equation? Are you a plus or a multiplier?

What would a helicopter ride tell you? What do you want the equation to look like this year? What changes do you need to make?

At Acumen, we help pluses become multipliers, and multipliers find their exponential function. Come and see.

Dan Cooper
Post by Dan Cooper
February 19, 2021
Dan Cooper co-founded ej4, a video-based online training company, in 2003, and was its CEO until selling in 2012. During his time with ej4, he grew the company from a startup to a nationally-recognized firm, serving clients including Pepsi-Cola, Dr. Pepper Snapple, Honeywell, Monsanto and Syngenta. Channel partners included SAP and Oracle. As of the 2012, ej4 was serving 1,000+ customers, delivering millions of program views, was highly profitable and debt-free. Today, he is the CEO of Acumen, a mastermind community platform built for CEOs and Owners of strong and growing companies. He and his wife, Ali, have three children and attend Cure of Ars church in Leawood, KS. Dan enjoys running, all things soccer — coaching, playing and watching —and burning all types of meat on the backyard barbecue grill.