9 Insights To Scale Your Business The Right Way
Interview With John Russell Of The Russell Consulting Group
John Russell has been a Business Adviser since 1992. He began his first practice while running three successful ventures in Hawaii and was sought out by several businesses requesting his counsel and perspective.
From 1995, as the founder and Principal Adviser of his firm, The Russell Consulting Group, John has been instrumental in successfully navigating companies and business owners through financial straits and opportunities with a combination of candid assessment and innovative solutions.
1. What Problem Do You Solve For Clients? What Is The Solution? Results?
John: Businesses want to know how to scale to the next level and resolve issues that are preventing them from scaling. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Fortune 500 company or a small business. Most of the challenges and problems that large and small businesses face are very similar. Small businesses have difficulty with the “E-Myth” problem. Small business owners get buried in their businesses, which takes them away from strategic work.
For larger companies, The Russell Consulting Group implements a business planning process – a “business planning day.” We get the CEO, senior VPs and select team members in the same room.
For small businesses, the process is similar but simpler. Clients fill out a questionnaire. From there, we review their responses and begin troubleshooting the hurdles that are preventing the businesses from scaling. Then, the fun really begins. We identify new possibilities and opportunities for the business. In each scenario, the process is comprehensive, requiring 2-3 months.
I am proud to say that the results are exciting. Over the past 27 years, 93% of the cases have been nothing short of phenomenal. Businesses gain real clarity in their business plan and objectives. Their mission becomes realigned with their strategic plan and employees understand the direction of where the business is headed.
Stick this on your refrigerator: Only when management and employees are working in concert can the real sound of business success be heard.
2. What Makes A Business Plan Valuable Vs. Worthless?
John: A sound business plan or strategy needs to be industry/sector-specific. Cookie-cutter approaches might be a start, but can be too generic. This is because every business needs to build its own culture, brand and value around its proposition.
A valuable business plan requires a deep dive into questions like “Where do we want to open operations” and “How can we find our most qualified workforce?”. You have to focus on your specific business and its compatibility with the customers, employees, cultures and regions it will serve. Interwoven in this is the financial aptitude for sustainability and growth.
3. Your Firm Has Vetted Partners, Or “Partner Resources.” How Do You Choose Collaborative And Strategic Partners To Better Serve Your Clients?
John: The #1 thing we look for in partners is that they understand the true value of collaboration. It’s all about the clients. Aside from understanding the value of collaboration, we want to make sure partners have a professional track record, are in it for the long-term and have a positive reputation.
4. What Makes A Small Business Scalable?
John: A small business is scalable when they are receptive to receiving counsel and implementing growth strategies agreed upon. Scalable businesses don’t live in a bubble. Second, they need to have “working capital” to implement growth strategies. Some businesses don’t have that working capital. At The Russell Consulting Group, we may work with these small businesses to help them get necessary funding and resources.
However, they still have to be in an acceptable position to get that funding in the first place. There is a huge misconception, particularly among startups, that they’re going to apply for an SBA loan and get all the money they need. That is the complete opposite of reality. You still need to have collateral and a track record.
5. In The E-Myth, Michael Gerber Says Of Marketing Strategy: “It’s What Your Customer Wants That Matters.” When Evaluating Or Creating A Marketing Strategy, What Is Your Compass?
John: Our compass considers trends; being aware of them in the marketplace. I am a complete news and social, political junkie. This has served to my advantage when working with clients because we need to know what the political climate is and how it impacts future business growth. Consumer trends are another thing. For example, there is this really weird trend that’s been going on where people want to buy jeans with holes in them for $100 a pair. I don’t get it, but it’s a trend.
Being aware of trends will help your offering be in the right place at the right time. Your business also needs to be able to adapt to the wants and needs of its customers. Your business needs to listen to them and not become inflexible or arrogant. The graveyard of once-famous businesses is filled with those that maintained such an attitude.
6. Most Businesses Don’t Get The Online Reputation They Deserve. Why Is It Important For Businesses To Improve Their Online Reputation?
John: It’s critical because reviews are how businesses are perceived as relevant. Reviews actually demonstrate the proof of the pudding. Everyone can have a website, and everyone can have an advertising campaign, but what are people saying about your business? If you don’t have the online reputation you deserve, then you waste a lot of advertising dollars. Your reviews and reputation should be in sync with your advertising strategy.
7. What Is The Biggest Predictor Of Business Success? Failure?
John: The CEO or leader of the business. Specifically, the attitude of the CEO and how they will impact the attitude and level of excitement to the team below Senior Management.
For failure, the same applies. The biggest predictor of business failure is the CEO or leader of the business. Specifically, if they have the attitude of “we can’t do that.” If they aren’t open to candid assessment and constructive criticsm, they’re doomed to fail. This happens to all kinds of businesses, and all sizes.
8. If You Could Put One Thing On A Billboard To Encourage Business Owners, What Would It Be?
“It is not the critic who counts…The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly…who, at worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.”
– Teddy Roosevelt
For John’s entire career, he has been in the arena. The most remarkable thing about John’s work and The Russell Consulting Group is that on his way to victory, he has helped others come with him.
John: I would put a Bob Dylan quote: “She knows there’s no success like failure. And that failure’s no success at all.”
It’s very rate that you’re going to get it right in round one. A series of setbacks may occur before any business perfects themselves. Once you get it perfected, you must keep a pulse on what the customer wants because circumstances change in the market. Trends change, including both consumer and political trends.
9. How Do You Use Business To Love Your Neighbor?
John: We all need to be willing and wanting to leave the world better than we found it. As your business grows, treat your employees in the spirit of how you want to be treated.
To love your neighbor, give back to your community. Be aware of the footprint your business is leaving. For example, your social or carbon footprint. It’s so important that businesses are good neighbors to their communities.
Bonus Question: Do You Have A Slogan Or Tagline?
John: Yes, it is “No fluff, just results.”
About The Russell Consulting Group
The Russell Consulting Group specializes in bringing together all components necessary for long-term business growth, profitability, and success; and ensuring that they are working in harmony. We serve as the business strategist for small and mid-size businesses that want to scale, gain access to needed capital, develop new and better methods of marketing, improve their supply chain, expand their resource base to better compete in a global economy and provide an exit strategy to owners at a multiple of annual profits.
Get In Touch With John Russell
You can contact John at (512) 217-3205 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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