Business Levels: Where Are You in Your Business?

business levelsAs I see it, there are four distinct business levels. Today we’ll try to map out these business levels and define the stage you are at in your business.

The Four Business Levels

Level A: I want to have a business

In the first of the business levels, you are new to business, or else new to business systems. You aren’t yet working with clients on a regular, consistent basis. You are missing business fundamentals and may be operating under the belief that money is the factor that is holding you back from growing your business. Knowledge and acting on that knowledge is what is actually holding you back. At this stage, you may have the spirit of an entrepreneur, but you aren’t yet running a business.

If you find yourself at an A level after years of trying to launch your business, I want to emphasize that realizing you are at point A is a beautiful thing! You are now at choice: you can continue pretending that you are going to make money by doing the same things you have always done, or you can get the training you need, implement that training, and move on to a level B in the business levels!

If you are brand new to business, you will of course be at a level A. Everyone has to start here. Even Bill Gates didn’t get to skip levels. We all start a business at level A; having a desire to build a business, but not yet having the know-how. That is why you are reading this book. You are in the perfect place, my dear.

Level B: I am my business

Level B entrepreneurs have their basic business structure set, and are usually really good at the craftsmanship of creating the business product. Whether that is designing wedding gowns, training people on weight loss, or installing custom decks, you are probably a master at what you do.

Your ability to fulfill on the product or service so well may actually be holding you back from growing your business. Counterintuitive as it may seem, if you are too good at what you do, you often lose perspective of the business as a whole and focus instead on creating an impeccable product or service. Impeccable product is impeccable product. But impeccable product does not mean you have an impeccable business. Your time as a business owner is best spent working on leading your business, not being an employee in it.

To grow to the next stages, you will write out a step-by-step sequence of exactly how to create your impeccable product or service, and then you will hire people to create the impeccable product or service for you. You’ll need to start developing a business level strategy. Once all five areas of your business have been systematized through this sequence, (and those five areas are leadership, marketing/sales, finance/accounting, customer service/fulfillment, and product development) and then hired out, you will then be on your way to having not only an impeccable product, but an impeccable business!

business levelsLevel C: Some systems are in place

Level C business owners know their role in their business. You are no longer stuck in the I-must-do-it-all-myself mentality. You are starting to systematize and hire out pieces of the business, but may get bogged down in solving day-to-day fires that seem to arise constantly.

The secret to pulling out of the day-to-day firefighter role is to dig deep for a little while. Yes, you will have to put in extra hours to work on the business, systematizing a sequence for every fire that you put out, in addition to actually putting out the fires at the same time. There is no shortcut here–you can continue to tell yourself you are putting in your max and get frustrated with the obvious holes in your system, or you can put on your big girl shoes, and work your tail off for the next year until you completely systematize your business. It will be hard. And it will be worth it and you’ll finally reach the last of the business levels!

Level D: You work ON your business and not IN your business

Congratulations! When you reach the last of the business levels, you understand that the real product you have is not the product or service your company sells; rather, the business is the product. You have set up your business to run smoothly and systematically with or without you. You are now in prime position to sell your business if desired and move on to your next venture. For your next venture, I challenge you to start or purchase a business that is bigger than your first. Stretch yourself!

If you want to hold on to your business at this point, continue to systematize, automate and hire yourself out of the business almost entirely. Get your weekly maintenance work hours down to only a few hours per week.

You will then be free to

  • grow your business in new ways,
  • start another business, or
  • use your expertise and resources and start a non-business venture.

At a level D of business levels, as a business owner, you are a powerful creator. Offers to work with others on exciting projects will be falling into your lap, while the challenge for you will be to turn down many  business opportunities that may be good, but aren’t exactly what you want for your life. Sometimes having amazing opportunities is a more difficult challenge than having no opportunities!

business levelsWhich of the four business levels is your business at?

Now that you know the four business levels, look at your business and identify the exact level your business has reached. This will help you understand more about your business, what is going good and what is missing in order for it to reach higher business levels…and remember to play Big in your Business!

The BIG Business Vision

Today we’re going to do some exercises that will lead us to the BIG business vision. I am going to take you through a writing exercise that will access those repressed parts of you that are screaming to come out. Remember: don’t edit yourself, and dismiss any “I could never do that!” thoughts.

The Big Business Vision Exercises

business vision

BUSINESS VISION EXERCISE 1: For our first business vision exercise, take a minute to feel grounded and peaceful. Close your eyes. Take three deep breaths. I want you to imagine that your business has unlimited access to any resource, training, or connection you would need. There is nothing to limit your dreams or ambition–you can have anything you want.

BUSINESS VISION EXERCISE 2: Now that you are peaceful and relaxed, for the second business vision exercise you need to close your eyes again and take about five minutes and imagine what the business of your dreams looks like in this unlimited space. If any thoughts of “I couldn’t possibly do that” come up, and they will, gently dismiss your inner editor and allow those thoughts to come freely. If money, time, or knowledge was not an obstacle, and you knew you couldn’t fail, what would your business look like? Imagine in full-blown technicolor what the business of your dreams looks like.

BUSINESS VISION EXERCISE 3: Now close your eyes again and take about five minutes and imagine what you will be doing as the president of your company on a regular, day-to-day basis. Imagine it in as much detail as possible. What would you be doing today as the president of the business of your dreams?

BUSINESS VISION EXERCISE 4: Now close your eyes again and take about five minutes and imagine what you will be doing on your highlight reel. Every business has great highlights, whether they happen once a month, once a quarter, or several times a year. Imagine what those business highlights will be and imagine them in as much detail as possible.

BUSINESS VISION EXERCISE 5: For our last business vision exercise, close your eyes again and go back to the thoughts of your business as it is today, with its current business mission and all the other characteristics. What is the first thing you need to do, learn, or implement to move in the direction of your big dream?

Understanding the BIG Business Vision

Whew! I love taking people through the BIG Business Vision exercise and even creating a business vision board. If you had a difficult time imagining anything bigger than your business making 10% more income and maybe, just maybe, having a few employees, I invite you to revisit this exercise again in a few months. Watch as your business vision gradually expands, and you are able to start thinking bigger.

If your business vision is so big that it may as well be a Hollywood movie, congratulate yourself for having a big vision! Please know that just because you had this particular business vision on this day in this year, it doesn’t mean this particular business vision will come to be. As you probably remember from other posts, I don’t believe in any magic secrets. Today you had this vision for your life, tomorrow you may have another.

I hope this exercise helped you define and understand your business vision. The goal of this big business vision activity is to start looking for patterns in your big vision, not pinpoint exactly how your life will play out…and remember to play BIG in your business!