If you could grow something that’s important to you by 10 times and end up with a simpler, easier-to-manage, more enjoyable business than you have now, would you do it?
It could be something obvious, like taking profits or sales tenfold, or perhaps something more creative, such as doubling your results with one-fifth the clientele or having 10 times more time off. What it looks like is totally up to you, as long as it amounts to a 10x greater result in some area of your entrepreneurial life.
Now what if I were to tell you that your chosen 10x goal was not an end unto itself? Rather it would just be the means by which you could develop and hone a new set of capabilities to enable you to go 10x in any area you choose in the future. Sound appealing?
This is essentially the challenge I’ve been offering to my most advanced clients—all highly successful, growth-focused entrepreneurs—over the past year and a half, and not surprisingly, almost all of them have taken me up on it.
Nonetheless, some entrepreneurs still think that 10x is too daunting or overwhelming to think about, and I understand how that might be the case, especially for those struggling with the complexity of the day-to-day in a tough economy. For those people, even growth by 2x may seem like a stretch.
My commitment to 10x thinking comes from my conviction that 10x is the only guaranteed way that entrepreneurs can ensure their continued freedom and success in a world where change happens at an exponential rate, led by technology. Incremental growth simply isn’t enough to stay ahead of the curve anymore. You and your team have to be able to think in terms of 10x improvements, 10x growth and 10x innovation in order to continually thrive. The future belongs to 10x companies. The good news is that growing one is probably much easier and more enjoyable than you think.
One reason is that 10x thinking immediately takes you out of the box of your current limitations and obstacles. The rewards of 10x thinking and 10x learning, driven by 10x goals, are immense and often surprising. Here are some of our observations so far from going through the process, as 150-plus top entrepreneurs from more than 50 industries have done.
1. As soon as you start thinking 10x, everything automatically speeds up.
Thinking 10x has a wonderful way of creating clarity that allows you to make greater progress more quickly. This happens because a 10x goal is a powerful filter for decision-making and action.
It immediately sorts out what parts of your business are or aren’t in alignment, and makes it clearer and easier to make decisions about what belongs in the future versus the past. You begin to ask yourself, “Does this relationship, this project, this activity have 10x potential?” or, “Is this process going to take us 10x?” or even, “Is this how I want to be spending my time to go 10x?”
Think for a moment: What would you have to stop doing to go 10x? There’s a 25 to 50 percent productivity increase just from stopping certain things that aren’t supporting your future growth. As you start to filter your activities, decisions and relationships through 10x, you can quickly begin to transform everything in your life that doesn’t support exponential growth, and create and attract everything that does.
2. Thinking 10x moves you into purely entrepreneurial decision-making, creativity, risk-taking and teamwork.
Bureaucracy is like kryptonite to entrepreneurs. Because there’s nothing bureaucratic about 10x thinking, it becomes a kind of protective shield: Any bureaucratic thinking, structures or processes that may have crept into your business can’t survive for long when you’re committed to 10x.
The reason for this is that 10x requires innovation, risk-taking and a level of entrepreneurial teamwork. Everyone on your team has to be creative on the spot and has to innovate and make continual improvements. This is the essence of what entrepreneurs do. A 10x company makes the ability to grow 10x part of its DNA. Its approach is always 10x, its systems and structures are built to create and support 10x growth, and its team members share its leaders’ 10x thinking. In such a company, if a new opportunity doesn’t have 10x potential, it’s likely to get rejected as a game not worth winning.
3. With 10x progress in mind, you start seeing an increasing number of 10x factors that can contribute to that progress.
Have you ever noticed that the eyes only see and the ears only hear what the mind is looking for? It’s just like when you buy a car, and at first you think you’re the only one with that model of car, and then you start noticing it everywhere. There are all kinds of 10x opportunities within and surrounding your business, but you have to look for them to see them, and then, all of a sudden, they’re obvious.
Great people with incredibly useful capabilities, strategic relationships, unique technologies and innovative shortcuts surround you. They’re what you need to go 10x, and your mind should see the project clearly to find them and put them to use.
4. As your team gets involved in 10x progress, leadership emerges, relationships strengthen and creativity increases.
Many entrepreneurs don’t love being in charge of developing, training, managing and motivating their teams. But when you focus your team on a 10x goal, all of these things become much easier. In fact, you may see much of it happening without any extra effort on your part.
Growth-oriented people, the ones you want on your team, are energized by big goals, and 10x gives them a big project on which they can work together. On the other hand, anyone who’s just there to collect a paycheck is likely to opt out. In a 10x company, every team member is always looking for things they can do 10x faster, easier, cheaper or bigger in their own areas of responsibility and knowledge. Adding up these small and perhaps big 10x improvements, the whole company eventually goes 10x. Think of it like a pot of water heating up on a stove. Each 10x innovation represents one of the small bubbles that eventually combine with others to bring the whole thing to a rolling boil.
5. Striving for 10x progress is faster, easier and cheaper—and is far more enjoyable and satisfying—than striving for 2x progress.
The statement above may seem counterintuitive, but going 2x is something that can happen without actually changing much of what you’re already doing. When we think about doubling our progress, we often just try to leverage our current capabilities, whereas going 10x engages a different level of creativity, energy and excitement.
Going 10x requires real change—leaps in value creation, in efficiency, in resourcefulness and in productivity. It can also put you at the forefront of change, driving it rather than struggling to keep up with constant, unpleasant surprises. Evolving technology is going to change you anyway, so why not say, “I’m going to adopt a level of thinking right up front that makes it a profitable, enjoyable trip.”