Black Holes and No Man’s Land in Business (Shirlaws Conference Blog)

Enjoy this post from the 2014 Shirlaws Australia Conference. You might also enjoy the expanded version, focusing on busting through $1 million and packed with links for more business growth.

Today and tomorrow I have volunteered to be the official blogger at the Shirlaws Australia Conference. This is the second of six posts.

Within every business there are phases and ratios. As you grow, you move through these phases which are reflected in either/both staff numbers and revenue.

There are points where most businesses get stuck. Nic Rixon – speaking at 300 words per minute with gusts to 500 – is taking the Shirlaws conference delegates through some of these most common points.

Have you ever felt your business was stuck? Losing money. Maybe losing staff, or your house. Or both. Most often this happens at pre-known sticking points. But for you the business owner, it’s still unexpected: You might grow fast, hit a level (say $1.5million or $12million) and then ‘for some reason’ get stuck.

Some of these sticking points are worse than others. We call these Black Holes – where you and your business can disappear for a decade.

Consider a one-man-band turning over $80,000 per year. Why can’t you grow? Because you need to work full time to generate that revenue AND you can’t afford to pay anybody else. Most businesses in Australia spend their life in that Black Hole – stressed, busy and just over broke.

And there are other Black Holes around $750,000pa, $17 million, $700 million.

It takes a big JUMP to move through the Black Hole. The smaller phases (eg $1.5M, $3.0M, $6.0M, $12.0M) also need specific jumps. And those jumps require investment, which takes time to deliver a return, which creates a period of reduced (or no) profit. We call that period “No Man’s land”, and plenty of businesses move into No Man’s Land, then fall back, then try again, then fall back. They lack the clarity to know the next ratio to deliver profitability, and the specific strategy to burst through.

So between the Black Holes you’re jumping through phases of No Man’s Land. Each area of will need specific steps in the areas of:

  1. Sales
  2. Channels
  3. Products
  4. Brand

I’m not going to discuss the specifics. Nic Rixon is walking through examples at 20 levels of revenue from $80,000 per year to $700 million. Let me know if you want the details relevant to your turnover.

And while those steps – Sales, Channel, Product, Brand – are consistent, obviously the 3 Product strategies you need at $6million are different to what you do at $96million. The size of your investment will also differ.

What remains constant: the investment will always be bigger than you expect, because it’s related to THE NEXT PHASE not your current level.

And you can always choose to sell (or stay) at any point. See this morning’s session. What’s your number?

Key Learnings:

  • How would you feel if you knew the specific steps – by strategy and turnover – to go from today to your number?
  • Is that better than feeling stuck in a Black Hole or No Man’s Land

For more information, call Jacob Aldridge and Shirlaws 1300 853 772.

Click here to read session 3: “Blockages to Creativity with Dr David Hall”


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