7CEO 007: How To Create A Growing, Sustainable Business with Special Guest Les McKeown

On November 11, 2015

7CEO 007: How To Create A Growing, Sustainable Business with Special Guest Les McKeown

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Today, we’re talking with Les McKeown, author, speaker, and business consultant.

As a young man, Les qualified as a Chartered Accountant.   He took that path not because he was interested in accounting but because he was interested in business. As soon as he put out his shingle, he committed to learning as much as he could about running businesses, not necessarily doing other people’s ‘books’.

He made it a point to start working with entrepreneurs and over the following decade, he was asked to join in on many ventures and ended up starting 42 businesses by the time he was 35. In doing this, he started to notice some recurring patterns; he became interested in the patterns of growth and paired up with another serial entrepreneur and they started incubation units, which they did worldwide for the next 10 years.

By the end of that decade, they had expanded into helping existing businesses get to the next stage of growth. He began to see a series of patterns again in how organizations grow and why they plateau and fail. As he discovered more and more, it became a holistic model he called “Predictable Success” and for the last 30 years he has been teaching, coaching and consulting to other people on those patterns of business growth.


Les McKeown’s website:                                 www.predictablesuccess.com

The Synergist Quiz                                                www.synergistquiz.com

Steps To Take

Have a Ruthless Focus on Finding a Profitable and Sustainable Market. Don’t fall in love with your idea or the product/service to the point that you hold on to it forever. Recognize that 80% is great, get it out to the market, and let the market tell you how to make that final 20%. You can’t get distracted by a single large customer or the fun of and excitement of ‘housekeeping’ matters, such as buying more office supplies, designing better logo’s, etc.

Recognize their own role. There are only 2 roles that are necessary to get a business up and over the 7-figure mark-the ‘Visionary’ and the ‘Operator.’ As the leader, you cannot be both for very long. If you are the visionary, go find the operator. Visionaries tend to want to keep shifting and developing new ideas. If you do that, you will keep your business perpetually in the ‘early struggle’ phase. The businesses that reach and sustain ‘Predictable Success’ have an operator that has ruthless self-discipline.

Tip: Don’t know if you’re a visionary, operator or processor? Les has a test to help determine that, in his book, The Synergist. The quiz can also be found at www.synergistquiz.com.

Don’t over-process too early.   When you’re in the ‘early struggle’ and ‘fun’ phases, that’s when you innovate, respond to clients and jump through hoops. If you try and ‘process’ (i.e. systematize) too early, you will kill your business.   In the early stages of your business, you just need enough processing to keep you legally compliant and you can do that mostly by outsourcing.

Build a Team. If you want to reach the 7-figure mark, you have to be prepared to build a team. On your own, you will ‘tap’ out when you reach the $400-$600K mark maximum.   The first person you hire needs to be the operator.   Up until your first $650K, it’s okay to trust your gut when hiring and, if you’re the visionary, you can do the hiring yourself if you choose. After that $650K point, it’s time to start a structured hiring process where your operator hires more operators-this is going to probably be the first process you put into place.

‘Predictable Success’ is a Decision. Every entrepreneur gets to the point where they need to make a conscious decision to keep having fun or to push forward into success.   It’s called ‘Whitewater’. This is the point where you’ve had a business that you’ve been having a lot of fun with that’s probably profitable, and you’ve been innovating, making sales, hiring and growing, and now you’ve reached a point where it’s just too complex to keep juggling and improvising. Now it’s time to implement process.   If you’re in that position, you have to make the decision to keep having ‘fun’ and not scale or make the behavioral shift to embrace process and push through to predictable success.

Learn to Love Numbers. Your first step, from day one, is learning cashflow. Learn how to use a spreadsheet and face it down. Never put projections of income into your cashflow – stare at it every Friday with the red and let it scare you. That will push you to keep going out there hunting down your sustainable market. Once you are in ‘fun’ and start seeing 3-9 months of positive cashflow, learn how to read a profit and loss statement. At this point, the difference between the cash you take in and whether you are making a profit begins to get complex. Then, when you decide to head for ‘Predictable Success’, you’re going to need to learn how to read a balance sheet.

Focus On What ‘Only You’ Can Do. There’s a point when you’re starting your business that you have to do everything. Then, there’s a point in your business where you should be doing what only you can do. When you focus on that, you build a more sustainable business.


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