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Guest: Mark Moses, the founder and CEO of CEO Coaching International and best-selling author of “Make BIG Happen!” Mark has been the president of EO and YPO Orange County, and in his spare time he’s completed 12 full-distance IRONMAN triathlons, including the Hawaii IRONMAN World Championship five times.
Episode in a Tweet: Six of CEO Coaching International’s clients have achieved a 9-figure exit, and more are on track to do the same. Here’s how we achieved these BIG results.
Quick Background: Why do some of the biggest and best companies in the world work with CEO Coaching International? Because our best practices get real results. At our recent Summit, CEO Mark Moses noted that our clients have achieved $7 billion in revenue, 40% annual CAGR after 4 years, and 210% Median Profit Growth Rate across the board. We’re proud that our clients’ sustained growth and stables of top talent have also attracted serious interest from strategic buyers and private equity firms.
On today’s show, Mark Moses discusses how six of our clients have executed 9-figure exits. And we’re not talking theory here. These are real-world philosophies and activities that have led our clients to more scale, more revenue, greater valuations, and dream exit scenarios. In fact, we have more clients following this exact same pipeline who will be achieving similarly BIG results in the very near future.
Transcript: Download the full transcript here.
Key Insights from Mark Moses on Achieving a 9-Figure Exit
1. Think BIG!
Some companies, like Grasshopper, have BIG ambitions from the get-go. “Their vision was to have one million entrepreneurs signed up on the Grasshopper system,” Mark remembers. “They sold it long before that. They hadn’t even hit 100,000 clients when they sold to Citrix for $172 million, but they had that vision right from the beginning of a million clients.”
Other companies ramp up their ambitions in tandem with their growth. They may start small, but once they get from A to B, they recognize the potential for a bigger C, and beyond. “They keep doing the right stuff, like the ‘20-mile march’ that Jim Collins talks about in his book ‘Great By Choice,’” Mark says. “Then, eventually, they can begin to see that $100 million in revenue is possible, and $100 million in valuation is possible, and even meaningfully more.”
If setting a 9-figure exit goal sounds simple, it’s not. Seeing an opportunity is one thing. But committing to such a BIG goal, putting the steps in place to hit it, and following through on that vision takes courage that only the best CEOs have.
2. Put leading actions in place.
“I’m going to hit $100 million in sales” is a good goal. But it’s not an action plan. In Mark’s experience, struggling firms have trouble making this distinction. “When we ask for specific and measurable activities, they often give us an outcome like a sales number, a gross profit number, a gross margin number, a net profit number,” Mark says. “But they don’t give us the activities that will lead them to that outcome that they want.” Or, just as bad, a CEO will point to lag indicators like last month’s sales figures or last quarter’s growth as evidence that the company is moving forward.
Mark insists that his clients focus on leading activities. “I do X, I get Y,” he explains. “For example, I make 100 calls per day, I’m going to get five appointments. That’s a leading activity that we could keep score on, and we’ll make assumptions. We know that if we need to achieve X amount of customers, we need to get Y amount of appointments, so we need to make Z amount of calls. Now you can back up the truck and put those activities through your whole funnel.”
When determining your activities and the short-term targets you want to hit on your way to BIG, Mark recommends a 3-year plan. Developments in technology and the global economy are changing businesses more rapidly than ever. 3-year projections will lead you to realistic goals and actionable tasks. But 5 years? 10 years? If you try to see too far into the future, you might lose sight of an achievable vision.
3. Hire the best and get out of their way.
CEOs who have shepherded a business from start-up to profitability are used to doing everything themselves. And maybe that was necessary when you were alone stuffing mailers and making cold calls in the basement. But to get to a 9-figure exit, you’re going to need to hire the absolute best people in key leadership and management positions and let them do their work.
“If you want to be a control freak and micromanage top talent, you are going to lose,” Mark warns. “Top talent doesn’t want to be micromanaged. The entrepreneur has got to have the courage and the confidence in the people that they brought on board, to recognize that there might be other ways to get something done, and it might even be better than the way that they would have done it.”
If your direct reports really can’t execute without you guiding their every move, then they’re not the best. And if you think you can’t get the best to replace them, well, Mark says he’s heard that one before:
“‘Mark, you don’t understand. I can’t get the best person. Why would they want to come and work for my small firm?’ I think that’s a limiting belief. If you believe you can, you will. Those that believe they can, they do, and top performers are available if you’re willing to look. If you don’t know where to look, go hire a search firm and have them look for you.”
4. Hold yourself and your company accountable.
Scoreboards and regular KPI reports are critical to making sure your team is focused on hitting the targets that will lead the company to BIG. But a 9-figure exit requires an extra level of strategy and accountability that’s best achieved via annual or quarterly planning sessions.
To be clear: an annual planning session is not you, the CEO, standing on a stage telling everyone else what you want them to do. An effective planning session requires third-party facilitation so that the CEO is a participant. Don’t underestimate what a powerful impact you can have on your company by simply joining the group, listening to feedback, and settling on new processes and goals together. You won’t just get more buy-in from your team, you’ll send an important message: I’m accountable just as much as you all are.
“In each 9-figure exit that we’ve had, a common theme is we don’t only coach the CEO,” Mark says. “We coach the CEO, the COO, the head of sales, the CFO, and other people in the organization that are hugely impactful. The deeper we go in terms of running and facilitating the quarterly planning sessions, the more impact we can have on the organization. It helps bring out the best in their people.”
1. See it. Your company’s potential is limited only by your vision for its success and the team you assemble to realize that vision.
2. Track it. Focus on the activities that are going to lead to bigger numbers tomorrow, not yesterday’s successes or failures.
3. Adjust it. Hold quarterly or annual planning sessions to focus your team on what’s working and correct what’s not.
Transcript: Download the full transcript here.