- Alex Lieberman is the executive chairman and co-founder of Morning Brew.
- One of his investors recommended a book that gave Lieberman the blueprint to transform the business.
- He shares the steps that grew his company to $40 million in revenue, 110 employees, and 8 products.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Owning your business doesn’t mean controlling your business. Here are 6 steps any business owner can do to take control of your business.
Let’s set the stage. It’s 2019, and Morning Brew looks wildly different:
- We have 15 employees
- We work out of a WeWork
- We have 3 products
Everything about the company is younger, smaller, and earlier. But the biggest difference in the company is how we were thinking and operating.
Planning and process were two words that weren’t in our vocabulary back then. We knew we wanted to get to a goal and we needed to think months and years ahead, rather than days and weeks.
Thankfully, my co-founder Austin Rief put us in a position to be able to do that. We had been looking for a framework that would put us in control of our business.
One of our investors recommended a book called “Traction.” It piqued our interest, and ultimately, transformed our business.
Traction provides a 6-step system for taking control of your business, and Austin put the system to work. It’s what allowed Morning Brew to scale to ~$40m in revenue, 110 employees and 8 products.
Step 1: Have a clear vision
Define who and what your organization is, where it’s going and how to get there.
Your vision includes:
- Core values
- Core focus
- 10-year target
- 3-year picture
- 1-year plan
Here’s a quick Morning Brew example:
Core focus: “Empower the modern business leader with engaging & accessible content.”
Core values: Empathy, curiosity, purpose, challenger mentality
Without this, it will always be impossible for employees to all row in the same direction.
Step 2: Choose the right people for the right roles
It’s not just about having the right people. It’s about having the right people in the right seats.
Every employee problem boils down to:
- Having the right person in the wrong seat
- Having the wrong person in the right seat
Who are the right people?
- They embody your company’s values
- They thrive in your company’s culture
- They make the company a better place by being a part of it
What are the right seats?
- When each employee is experiencing responsibility-skill fit.
- When their role allows them to operate within their greatest skills & passions.
Step 3: Simplify the data
Data can be overwhelming to many entrepreneurs. To make your data work for you, simplify and standardize it.
Establish a scorecard that tells you how your business is doing at a quick glance. Unlike your P&L, your scorecard is a leading indicator in business.
Here’s how to think about it: If you’re on a deserted island and can only have a 3×5 index card delivered to you from modern society, what are the 5-10 numbers that would give you a clear picture of how business is doing back home?
Step 4: Regularly talk about issues
Every business has issues. But not every business has a culture of talking about issues. Without that, solving issues will always be a game of catch-up.
Once you have the culture, you can successfully tackle three types of issues:
- Long-term issues: discussed by your leaders each quarter
- Short-term issues: discussed by your leaders weekly
- Departmental issues: discussed in department meetings
Step 5: Document and communicate processes
Processes are the repeatable actions that keep the business running. They’re the engine in the car.
To have effective processes:
- You have to document them well.
- You have to communicate and train people in the processes well.
Step 6: Traction
This is what brings everything together. Traction is defined by action.
To do this, you must have all five of the above:
- Clear vision
- Right people in the right seats
- Clear sense of the data that matters
- Culture and way of solving issues
- Process documenting & training
The most important feature of traction is ROCKS. Rocks are 90-day goals that map to your long-term vision. They can be assigned to the company and to individual employees. Rocks marry your vision to reality.
These are the 6 steps that—when followed religiously—can set your business up for scale and success.
Thanks to Austin’s implementation, these steps have done exactly that for Morning Brew.
Alex Lieberman is the executive chairman and co-founder of Morning Brew.