Sean Frank of Cloud Equity Group Shares Tips on Scaling a Small Business
Scaling a small business can be a challenge for entrepreneurs. Most businesses reach a plateau and their growth rates diminish and revenue begins to flatten. In this article, Sean Frank, a serial entrepreneur and founder of New York City-based Cloud Equity Group, offers insight on how entrepreneurs can successfully grow their business.
Cloud Equity Group is a strategic capital partner for tech-enabled business service providers. The firm has operational experience in cloud hosting, managed service, and digital marketing. Cloud Equity Group is a hands-on investor with a long history of scaling businesses with decelerating or negative growth rates.
Motivated and Competent Teams
People are the single most valuable asset of any business, especially when it comes to scaling. As Sean Frank puts it, “It’s impossible to do everything yourself. Working with a group of individuals who are as motivated as you are to see the business succeed improves the likelihood of success tremendously.”
It’s natural for an entrepreneur to have the mentality that they can do everything, or that they are needed to do everything. While this can work for a small company, it’s not a productive mindset and it inevitably leads to a bottleneck in a company’s growth trajectory. It can be difficult at first for an entrepreneur to rationalize paying a competitive salary to offload some of their work, and it can be tempting to try to leverage “cheap labor;” however, hiring strong individuals who add value to the business, and align their interests with those of the founder, is an integral part of growing any business. The CEO of a company doing $1M in revenue is likely running and managing most of the daily operations of the business. In order to grow to $10M+ in revenue, the CEO needs to effectively delegate much of the day-to-day management to managers so that they can focus on strategic planning and growth initiatives. It’s a matter of the best use of the entrepreneur’s time. If something can be handled by someone else, particularly if it does not directly translate into growth or value creation, then it should be delegated.
Constantly Adapt the Produce or Service
Businesses are ever-adapting in response to changes in technology, economics, and politics. It’s imperative to be mindful of these changes and to adapt accordingly. As Sean explains, “stale businesses that don’t adapt inevitably die.”
Cloud Equity Group aggressively seeks and incorporates feedback both from customers and employees on how to improve its service offerings. “In my experience,” shares Sean, “company-loyalty improves tremendously when employees or customers recognize that you care. In competitive industries, where customers can easily switch to other providers, it’s vital to show that their feedback is not only welcomed but also acted upon. These two steps go a long way to keep customers happy and for business growth.”
Partnering with Strategic Capital
It can be very tempting for entrepreneurs to accept capital into their business as soon as it becomes available. On one hand, a liquidity event could be seen as diminishing the success available to the entrepreneur. On the other, it may advance short-term funding needs that will, ideally, project the company forward. Accepting capital from an investor is a long-term commitment and it’s important to nurture a strategic capital partner as opposed to accepting any capital that’s available.
For example, a capital partner that’s willing to offer what seems like a lot of money for 50% of your business may be appealing in the short term, however, if the partner can’t help a business double in size, it’s a net loss. Choosing a capital partner that believes in your business, helps solve inefficiencies, and adds value is key. Sean Frank proposes that “it’s always better to have a small piece of a large pie than a large piece of a small pie — especially if that large pie continues to grow.”
The Ultimate Guide to the Essential Social Skills in Business
Effective communication and strong relationships are essential for success in the workplace. One factor that can greatly influence these qualities is emotional intelligence, often abbreviated as EQ. EQ refers to the ability to identify, understand, and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. Research has shown that individuals with high levels of EQ are better equipped to handle stress, communicate effectively, and work collaboratively with others (Chamorro-Premuzic & Sanger, 2016).
Research has consistently shown that emotional intelligence (EQ) is an important predictor of job performance and success in the workplace. EQ is comprised of a set of skills that allow individuals to recognize, understand, and regulate their own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. In addition, individuals with high EQ are better able to communicate effectively, build relationships, and navigate complex social situations. As a result, they are often viewed as effective leaders and collaborators, and are more likely to achieve their personal and professional goals.
In fact, a number of studies have demonstrated the significant impact that EQ has on job performance and success. For example, one study of 85 upper-level managers found that those with higher EQ scores were rated as more effective leaders by their subordinates (Law, Wong, & Song, 2004). Another study of 151 employees found that those with higher EQ were more likely to be promoted within their organization over a five-year period (Carmeli, Brueller, & Dutton, 2009). These findings highlight the importance of EQ in the workplace and suggest that developing these skills can lead to significant benefits for both individuals and organizations.
According to a study conducted by TalentSmart, a leading provider of EQ assessments, EQ is responsible for 58% of success in all job types (Bradberry & Greaves, 2009). In contrast, IQ only accounts for about 4% of success in the workplace. This suggests that EQ is a crucial skill set for individuals in any professional field. Fortunately, EQ is a skill that can be developed and honed over time with practice and awareness.
There are several key components of EQ that are particularly important for success in the workplace. These include:
Self-Regulation: This refers to your capacity to recognize and control your emotions. Sometimes treating them when they arise may be necessary. Understanding how to manage your anger is essential. However, it can also cover how to control the feelings you’ll experience.
Self-Awareness: This implies recognizing and understanding your own feelings. Do noisy places make you nervous? Do other people talking over you make you angry? Knowing these truths about yourself shows that you are working on your self-awareness. Being conscious of yourself is necessary for this phase, which can be more complex than it sounds.
Socialization: This category focuses on your capacity to manage social interactions and direct relationships. It doesn’t entail dominating others but knowing how to work with others to achieve your goals. This could entail presenting your ideas to coworkers, leading a team, or resolving a personal disagreement.
Motivation: Strong motivators include external forces like money, status, or suffering. Internal motivation, however, plays a significant role in Goleman’s concept. By doing so, you demonstrate your ability to control your cause and initiate or continue initiatives of your own volition rather than in response to external demands.
Empathy: It’s equally critical to be sensitive to others’ feelings. This may entail learning to identify different emotional states in individuals — for example, can you tell the difference between someone at ease and someone anxious? — but it also requires comprehension of how other people may react to their current situation. Empathy is one of the essential traits in business and business leadership.
A thought leader in this space, Michael Ventura has built a career advising organizations on the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace. In his book, Applied Empathy, Ventura highlights the value of empathy in business and provides strategies for developing and applying this skill set. With two decades of experience as a leader, facilitator, and educator, Ventura’s work has made impact in with prestigious institutions such as Princeton University and the United Nations as well as corporate clients such as Google and Nike.
Through his work, Ventura advises leaders to focus on the development of EQ in order to help individuals improve their communication, collaboration, and leadership skills, ultimately leading to greater success in the workplace. Experts like Ventura continue to support the growing body of research on the value of EQ in business, and the evidence that organizations who invest in the EQ of their teams help to create a more empathetic and successful professional environment.
And it’s worth noting that EQ isn’t just important for individual success in the workplace, but also for overall organizational success. A study by the Center for Creative Leadership found that EQ was a better predictor of success than IQ or technical skills in the workplace, and that teams with higher levels of EQ tend to be more effective and productive (Boyatzis, Goleman, & Rhee, 1999). By cultivating a culture of empathy and emotional intelligence, organizations can improve their overall performance and create a more positive work environment for their employees.
In conclusion, emotional intelligence is a crucial component of success in the workplace, and individuals and organizations alike should prioritize the development of these skills. The ones that do not only develop a leading edge in their category, but also become a meaningful place to work for their teams. And in today’s rapidly changing talent landscape, the retention of highly capable, emotionally intelligent leaders is one of the greatest keys to unlocking success.
Boyatzis, R. E., Goleman, D., & Rhee, K. S. (1999). Clustering competence in emotional intelligence: Insights from the emotional competence inventory (ECI). In R. Bar-On & J. D. A. Parker (Eds.), Handbook of emotional intelligence (pp. 343-362). Jossey-Bass.
Bradberry, T., & Greaves, J. (2009). Emotional intelligence 2.0. TalentSmart.
Chamorro-Premuzic, T., & Sanger, M. N. (2016). Does employee happiness matter? Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance, 3(2), 168-191.
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