As entrepreneurs, we're always thinking about growth. As such, we meticulously build out our funnels, design our offerings to be scalable, and outsource small tasks when we become too busy to manage them all on our own.
However, no matter what systems you have in place, you won't see the growth you so desire if you're not in the right headspace for it. To talk about having the right mindset for business growth, I spoke to serial entrepreneur Alex Haditaghi -- who, having built three successful enterprises from the ground up, knows a thing or two about growth. For instance, he recently made the cover of Profit magazine for the growth of mortgagebrokers.com, and later took another company he founded, Mopals, public.
An Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist, here's Haditaghi's advice for how entrepreneurs can match their mindset with their visions for the future of their business.
1. Check your ego.
"You can't do it on your own," Haditaghi says. Indeed, entrepreneurs are notorious for having a chip on our shoulders -- it's what allows us to chase our dreams and not give up. But it can also be a hindrance in that it tricks us into thinking that we can do it all on our own.
To that end, Haditaghi speaks to the importance of arming yourself with a great team: "The most important thing you can do is bring in the right people." You have to be comfortable not being the smartest person in the room, and ceding control to others who know more about certain topics than you do. In the long run, high-quality, knowledgeable employees are worth their value in gold.
2. Don't be territorial.
In addition to choosing the right people for your team, you can't be afraid to give them some ownership of your business. As the popular adage goes, "Nobody ever washes a rental car." But if your employees have some stake and responsibility in your business, they'll be much more invested.
Successful startups like Facebook have given their employees ownership of the company: Mark Zuckerberg, for instance, used his stock options to bring in the greatest programmers and individuals. (Needless to say, that ended up quite well for him.)
Haditaghi, too, had a similar experience when building Pacific Mortgage Group, which he founded in 2005. He started with just one mortgage broker, but managed to attract many more by offering ownership to all brokers. "They cared more because they weren't working for banks or other companies," Haditaghi remarked. When he sold the business in January 2016 for just under $100M, he had employed over 2,200 mortgage brokers.
3. Be prepared to put others before yourself.
Haditaghi rejects the popular mantra that you should "pay yourself first." Sometimes, he says, you can't -- you have to put the people who work for you and trust you with their livelihood ahead of yourself.
"If you treat people like business, they'll treat you like business," Haditaghi remarks. In the early days of a startup called Infosoft, Haditaghi had to take on a bartending job and work the night shift four days per week in order to have the funds to support his staff. Though it wasn't easy, it paid off in the long run: he ended up with a loyal team of dedicated workers who truly cared about his company and helped him achieve great success down the road.
4. Be resilient.
Growth is uncomfortable. There will be months when you see great results and couldn't be happier with the progress of your business, but there will also be moments when you feel downtrodden and hopeless about the future.
These moments are inevitable -- so the important thing is not to try to avoid them, but rather to prevent them from negatively affecting your attitude. "You have to forget about yesterday and start today with a fresh attitude," Haditaghi says. You must bounce back quickly from obstacles and treat setbacks as opportunities rather than roadblocks.
5. Champion a cause.
Your business should be bigger than you. As you grow, think about how your entrepreneurial endeavors will help the world. In Alex's case, he's opening a social media platform called IAmAction, which is dedicated to charitable organizations. He's aligned himself with megastar Canadian-born musicians and actors to help propel his cause (including Justin Bieber!). An orphan himself, Alex cares a lot about children, and wants to use his personal success to make a positive impact on the world.
In addition to making the world a better place, having a cause that you and your employees truly believe in will help your team come together and care more about your business -- and, in turn, your bottom line. "We're responsible for each other," Haditaghi says. "Your business should have a higher purpose than just making money."
Indeed, even with a top-of-the-line CRM and an exhaustively comprehensive annual plan, your business won't be able to handle the growth you seek unless you are in the right mindset for it. As Haditaghi has learned, arming yourself with the right mentality is just as important as arming yourself with the right strategy.
Ultimately, when you've put yourself in a growth-minded headspace, you've taken the first -- and most important -- step in turning your business goals into reality.