Jason Miller Of the Strategic Advisor Board On 5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Scale Your Business
An Interview With Ken Babcock
Keep everything simple: Complication in any business development plan or strategy leads to overload and overload leads to failure. If a third grader can understand what you do and how you do it, then it’s a win. I often see companies create complex applications that solve a lot of problems, but they can’t explain how it works in an effective way. If the market doesn’t understand it, they won’t buy it!
Startups usually start with a small cohort of close colleagues. But what happens when you add a bunch of new people into this close cohort? How do you maintain the company culture? In addition, what is needed to successfully scale a business to increase market share or to increase offerings? How can a small startup grow successfully to a midsize and then large company? To address these questions, we are talking to successful business leaders who can share stories and insights from their experiences about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Scale Your Business”. As a part of this series, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Jason Miller.
Jason Miller is the CEO of the Strategic Advisor Board which focuses on smart businesses growth in a changing environment. They focus on the customer and help their clients execute strategies as fast as possible. He is also the Founder and Chairman of Reliable Staff Solutions, a staffing agency that provides full-time and part-time staffing to companies that need remote work. Jason is a bestselling published author in the business world to include 3 international bestsellers and his 7 published books have been featured at Barnes and Noble, stores worldwide and are also available on Amazon. Jason donates all his book sales to “Homes for Heroes” of which donations have played a part in building multiple homes for Wounded Warriors.
Thank you for joining us in this interview series. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?
The Journey for the Strategic Advisor Board started 5 years ago. I had recently retired from the military and wanted to get into consulting businesses. Building Strategic Business Models was a huge strength of mine as I had operated many companies while serving in the military.
Back then it was just me working with companies and helping them grow and scale. I knew that I would eventually need to surround myself with experts in many fields at some point. So, the birth of SAB or the Strategic Advisor Board happened. The team is amazing with the skill-sets to help any company Grow, Scale, and Win!
The Journey of standing up the Strategic Advisor Board was one of my most challenging projects to date. I had to find all the right people that had the knowledge and skill-sets to become a part of such a powerful machine. It took me over 8 months to find the talent that is currently on the Strategic Advisor Board team today. That careful selection process is what now sets us apart as a “Premier” Results Based “Rapid Revenue” creating team for any company wanting to grow and scale. Not just grow and scale, but to grow and scale fast!
You’ve had a remarkable career journey. Can you highlight a key decision in your career that helped you get to where you are today?
One of the most key decisions I have had to make was actually pivoting out of being a Solo strategist into a model where I had equal shareholders that had their own superpowers to support the greater scale of the company. I had to literally interview hundreds of CEOs to find the right faces to put in the seats on the bus. The key “Choices” were critical as I had to align a successful balance between each 10 directors that would make the most sense for client success.
What’s the most impactful initiative you’ve led that you’re particularly proud of?
Without question, my most impactful initiatives have been our take a Veteran Off the Street Program and also our book launches that support heroes in need. Those are the things that are most impactful and they leave a massive footprint behind. I have always leveraged my companies to do a massive amount of good in the veteran community and will continue to do so.
Sometimes our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a mistake you’ve made and the lesson you took away from it?
Business in general is never a smooth road. If it were, everyone would be doing it. We have gone through our moments like any other company. The Pandemic obviously had many impacts on every company in the marketplace. What I will say is this, having the power of “Team” is what helped us level up which in turn contributed to helping the companies we worked with level up as well.
Owning and running a company will always have its challenges. When people are involved, there is always room for failure. But failure is part of the learning experience and it only makes us better in the end. When you have a high-powered team like the Strategic Advisor Board there is only room for upward momentum. Being a CEO or business owner can be a very lonely place to be. I have found that being the Founder/CEO of the Strategic Advisor Board is the exact opposite as we truly are the power of 10! One of the biggest mistakes I made in the past is choosing the wrong team. I put all the wrong people in the wrong seats and in the end I learned to slow down, take the time to put the work in and find the right people the first time.
How has mentorship played a role in your career, whether receiving mentorship or offering it to others?
Mentorship is key to success in life and business because they are very inter tangled. Your business plan should in turn support your total life plan. I have mentored thousands and thousands of minds over the course of 25 years. It’s critical both ways to mentor and be mentored as a lifelong learner yourself. If you want to become a 9 figure earner then you seek someone who has already accomplished that in their lifetime. I always say, seek knowledge through the power of mentorship and find the right person that makes sense for you.
Developing your leadership style takes time and practice. Who do you model your leadership style after? What are some key character traits you try to emulate?
Hands down my father and for many reasons. We didn’t always agree on things but he has always been there to mentor and guide me. He was an entrepreneur himself his entire life and also a Vietnam Veteran and my inspiration to serve to retire myself. He instilled things like Honor, duty, respect, selflessness into me as a young man and gave me an ethical playbook that I have lived with my entire life. I try not to emulate anyone, as my father always told me growing up, never emulate another, forge your own path and figure out who you are and what impact you want to make in this world.
Thank you for sharing that with us. Let’s talk about scaling a business from a small startup to a midsize and then large company. Based on your experience, can you share with our readers the “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Scale Your Business”? Please give a story or example for each.
As the Founder and CEO of the Strategic Advisor Board, I am often asked this very question by new CEOs and established CEOs alike. Success can be measured in many ways, such as the efficacy of your overall strategy, strategic approaches, pivots, micro pivots, strategic implementation, or just time in business. It’s a challenge to narrow success down into a few words, but one of my golden rules is to just keep it simple. This has always worked for me, so let’s start with that.
- Keep everything simple: Complication in any business development plan or strategy leads to overload and overload leads to failure. If a third grader can understand what you do and how you do it, then it’s a win. I often see companies create complex applications that solve a lot of problems, but they can’t explain how it works in an effective way. If the market doesn’t understand it, they won’t buy it!
- Stop talking about how great you are: At the end of the day, the consumer doesn’t care about your company. They have come to you for a service or product. Focus on the customer and explain the WIFM (What’s in it for me) to them and credit your customers for your successes. Stop focusing on the ME, ME, ME strategy. Get engaged with crediting your customer for all your wins. It’s intoxicating to see your customers support your brand, and it will drive you harder and faster.
- Surround yourself with the right people: We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Know yours as the CEO and settle into your strategic role. DO NOT take on things that don’t fit into your superpower and delegate those down immediately. Focus on putting the right faces in the right seats on the bus to get things done. Staffing is super important and getting that right will support cross-functional team success in your company.
- Nail down your processes sooner than later: Know your processes from acquisition all the way to asking for referrals and everything in between. An efficient and effective set of processes that support the entire customer journey is super important. If you are continuously “guessing” at this process, it will lead to bottlenecks and tons of lost revenue every single year. A/B split test multiple pipelines and work the bugs out of the one that works most effectively for your model.
- Document and leading from the front: This is critical for the success of any company. Documentation of every staff position and title is extremely important. It’s what allows you to hold all personnel accountable for the positions they hold. Counsel, guide, or mentor — you will miss the mark from time to time. Lead with integrity and always lead from the front. Document your own position as the CEO so your C-Suite knows what to expect from you daily and the superpowers you bring to the table.
There are many factors that lead to the success of a CEO. I have only lightly brushed on a few that have helped me stay focused and keep the company growing through each phase of the business life cycle. In my mind, one of the major areas that makes all the difference is having a team like the Strategic Advisor Board on your side guiding you through the rough waters will increase your success many times over.
It’s important to guide your company along as the CEO. Look for the pathways to pivot where needed to support the next growth phase of your company and become the powerhouse that you first envisioned when you opened the doors.
Along with the five tips above, look at your process from end to end and see if you have a process for the following:
Acquisition: Do you have multiple processes to acquire new clients?
Sales: Do you have a successful sales process that feeds your machine?
Onboarding: Do you have a successful process for smooth onboarding of new customers?
Support: Do you have a customer support team that is on top of customer issues and concerns?
Communication: How do you effectively communicate with your customers when they need you?
Fulfillment: Are your fulfillment processes rock solid and can you deliver on time every time?
Referral Program: Do you have a way to reward people for being your biggest cheerleaders?
Most of all, are your own internal processes and procedures in place to support these simple steps? We often forget to do that bit of house cleaning every quarter to ensure we are still on track as we grow our business.
Operations shift and change; make sure you continue to put the right strategy in place to support the “Growth” (People and Process) and the “Scale” (Monetary) sides of the business in sequence. Hold yourself accountable as the business owner and remember always, when you know better, you do better. Doing a ton of good in the world will always be the best practice for reaching success in your company.
Can you share a few of the mistakes that companies make when they try to scale a business? What would you suggest to address those errors?
There are way too many to name them in any order for sure. Two common ones are “Growth” vs “Scale”. Many companies either overgrow in staff and under scale in cash flow which affects every area of the business. Or vice versa where it can have a drastic impact on the fulfillment process due to lack of proper staffing. The answer to fixing this is unfortunately very complicated but as a general rule of thumb try to keep your company balanced. If you balance the workload properly and keep your company as lean as possible in every aspect it can reduce the chance of imbalance drastically.
Scaling includes bringing new people into the organization. How can a company preserve its company culture and ethos when new people are brought in?
In my mind it’s very simple. We treat others as we want to be treated. Culture an environment of trust and harmony that is top driven from the c-suite all the way down to the lowest managers and staff. Your managers and senior leaders will take on your form of leadership in most cases so be careful not to enculture a leadership position that does not approach everything the same. Be firm, fair and consistent in all you do and live the values you preach to your staff and leadership.
In my work, I focus on helping companies to simplify the process of creating documentation of their workflow, so I am particularly passionate about this question. Many times, a key aspect of scaling your business is scaling your team’s knowledge and internal procedures. What tools or techniques have helped your teams be successful at scaling internally?
There are a lot of them. This is an area that I could talk about all day. We continue to educate our workforce with training that matters and grows their ability to serve in higher positions of responsibility. Process development and documentation is the key element to being able to scale a company period. Taking those key elements and creating digital pipelines will not only reduce complication but give your staff the ability to grow the process for you. I also believe in keeping the processes extremely simple. This allows your process to grow and micro-pivot with your company and the staff very quickly. When all these parts come together it allows a smooth transition from one lifecycle to the next in business.
What software or tools do you recommend to help onboard new hires?
We have a very hands on approach to onboarding. We keep our process very personalized to make the new onboard feel like they are a part of the family right from the start. Everything is done with a hands on manual approach to maintain the personal contact and ability to stay connected through the process. This cultivates trust and respect immediately as they don’t feel like another “Hire” that day. They feel like they are an instant part of the team.
Because of your role, you are a person of significant influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most people, what would that be? You never know what your ideas can trigger.
I spend a lot of time with young people showing them that there is more to life than disconnected communication through devices. I feel the biggest aspect of improvement we can have as humanity is to just do a digital detox once a day. Stop what you are doing and just have a cup of copy with another human at a table without an electronic in your hand. The social impact on that small thing alone is far greater than one may think.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
- Website: https://www.strategicadvisorboard.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/strategicadvisorboard/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/strategicadvisorboard
- Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/jasontmiller-sab
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6pqm8BJ1QsQWcMwjNJakEA
- Podcast: https://www.strategicadvisorboard.com/sab-podcasts
This was truly meaningful! Thank you so much for your time and for sharing your expertise!
About the interviewer. Ken Babcock is the CEO and Co-Founder of Tango. Prior to his mission of celebrating how work is executed, Ken spent over 4 years at Uber riding the rollercoaster of a generational company. After gaining hands-on experience with entrepreneurship at Atomic VC, Ken went on to HBS. It was at HBS that Ken met his Co-Founders, Dan Giovacchini and Brian Shultz and they founded Tango.
Jason Miller Of the Strategic Advisor Board On 5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Scale Your… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.