How To Grow Your Company or Small Business Sustainably | Sam Chin | Skillshare

How To Grow Your Company or Small Business Sustainably

Sam Chin, Process Scientist

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9 Lessons (33m)
    • 1. Welcome and Introduction

      1:28
    • 2. Defining Growth

      2:44
    • 3. Defining Automation

      5:03
    • 4. Defining Scaling

      3:59
    • 5. Balancing Operations and Projects

      4:06
    • 6. Sustaining Profitability

      5:01
    • 7. Common Roadblocks

      4:53
    • 8. Creating Profitable Growth When You're Not the CEO

      3:06
    • 9. Tying It Together

      2:55

About This Class

If a company does well, it will grow organically. This growth, though, will likely be accompanied by several changes. Market forces, business processes, supply chains, and other business areas may all need to change. How do we ensure all of this change happens in a sustainable, profitable way? After all, profitable growth is what keeps a business viable over time.

In this class, we'll define the categories of decision-making around sustaining profitability in a growing market place: "automation", "scale", and "growth". We will discuss a formal definition of the terms, how they relate to one another, and what you need to know to manage a business’s growth sustainably over time. 

This class is particularly relevant for students who are involved in the process of growing a business; however, it will also be of interest to anyone who enjoys learning about business theory and related topics. No prior knowledge or experience is required.

Transcripts

1. Welcome and Introduction: Hey guys, it's Sam Chen from KV Consulting. Today we're going to talk about how to grow a company profitably, and what we're going to talk about, the dimensions of that are going to be growth. We're going to make sure that we understand what that means technically. We're going to talk about the same for automation, and we're also going to talk about scaling. In this class, we're going to talk about how those things relate in the business world. They're not just so jargony, we're going to talk about how the patterns of automating and scaling contribute to growth and particularly, how we maintain profitability sustainably over time for business. As part of this, we're going to talk about balancing operations and projects and how those relate to the content. We're also going to talk about common roadblocks and actually getting this stuff in play in businesses. What are the actual challenges that we face when we try to employ these strategies to maintain profitability? Then we're going to talk about how do you actually apply this in context if you're maybe not the founder or the CEO. How do we actually go about doing these strategies? If you're just a line manager or maybe you're just an analyst level or you're just coming out of school. How do these things apply to you and your colleagues when it comes to managing, growth, scaling and automation? Before we get started, I'd like to say please follow us on Skillshare. Make sure you leave any comments, questions, engage with those we love having conversation. It's a great way to learn about business concepts, and also make sure you talk with each other. I think that's the best way so you can actually get your real life problems in there and start tackling these things with better language, with better academics behind it. That's what we really love here in KV Consulting. 2. Defining Growth: When we talk about growth in the business context, the formal definition is acquiring consistent increases in business revenue over time. When we talk about growing, it doesn't mean hiring more people, it doesn't mean hiring a bigger space or rather getting a bigger space or physically growing in any way, it's referring technically to increases in revenue that are sustained. Again, if you throw a big promotional event or you have a big sale and you have a surge of revenue, it could spike in a month and then go back to what it was the month before. That's not considered growth either. Think about the two aspects of increases in revenue, but also a sustained increase in revenue over time. So you think about your line going up like this. That's what we mean when we talk about growth. There's a lot of things that companies do to achieve growth, but it's usually with intent. Growth doesn't happen accidentally, unless you're getting organic growth, but even that is usually off the back of a proper marketing strategy. That's what we talk about when we mean the formal definition of growth. How do we actually achieve business growth? Technically, there's only two ways. Let's talk about those two. The first one is you can create new revenue by generating a new product or service. The second one is you can increase your market share with your current product or services. Or there's a combination of the two. But if you think fundamentally about what growth represents, it can only be either of those two or combination of those two in the business context. For example, if I'm a company that just makes [inaudible] , let's say it's vacuum cleaners and I sell them to clients. When I talk about generating a new product or service, it might be I go to my Research and Development Department and I make, let's say, a mini vacuum cleaner that I also sell; a handheld. Now I can sell a new product, which brings in new revenue that I wasn't having before with my standard vacuum cleaning unit. That's one way you can think about launching a new product. In my same vacuum cleaner company, let's say I don't make a new product, and right now I'm selling 1000 units a month but then I enter a new state or enter a new country, or I just deeper penetrate the market for vacuum cleaners and I sell 2000 units a month. Now I've also experienced revenue growth without a new product or service. I'm just deeper penetrating the market that I'm already in. That's an example of how those things play out in real time. It's important to know that because launching new products and services versus having deeper market share or increase market share with a particular product or service, are two different strategies. They take different processes and they imply different growth, but they're both examples of growth. When you're a really large company, you could be doing both simultaneously. But that's what we want to think about when we think about growth. 3. Defining Automation: Next we're going to define automation. Automation is one of my favorite topics because, a lot of people have a lot of confusion here. There's a lot of room that we can explain and give a better sense of clarity to what automation is. I'll start by what automation is not. It doesn't mean replacing people with robots. A lot of people think robotics is automation, or that, if now I can make a robot or a software to do it, whereas a human did it before, I've automated the process. That's not true. The formal definition of automation is, the design of processes that can operate with little, to no human intervention. The operating term there is little, to no human intervention. You can actually successfully automate something by making it just less human driven or driven by a lower cost human, to say it's sort of technically. For instance, if the CEO is doing it today at $600 an hour and tomorrow, a junior analyst can do it for $50 an hour. You've automated the process. We'll talk about that means more formally from a process perspective, next. When you think about automation in terms of a process, it all comes down to the decision logic. You can see in this slide, this is usually in a process map. There's activities, and then there's diamond shapes which represent judgments or decisions that need to be made. From a decision, processes can usually take different paths. This is the center of automation, all of these decision points. If you can break down what the decision criteria is to make it what we call MECE, which stands for mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive. Then you can start to systematically automate to reduce costs and processes. Let me take another minute here to explain MECE. When I say mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive, those are the two conditions on how you have to sort decisions out. Mutually exclusivity is that, each option you could possibly pick in a decision does not overlap with one another. It can either be A, B, C, or D, for outcomes. But there can't be something that falls on the line and could be A or B. That's being mutually exclusive. Collectively exhaustive refers to all the different conditions are explored when you're making decision framework. Meaning that if X comes in, Y, if Y comes in, Z, but if Z comes in, question mark. If you have any question marks like that, then you're not being collectively exhaustive with your decision framework. But when you're analyzing decisions, if you can make MECE framework, when I say any sort of inputs that you would expect to come into the process will go through a decision and it will be able to give a clear output. Then you can start to move that down to people who have less skills or less knowledge, or people who are not people at all. You could make a robot or you can program a computer to make those decisions for you. But that's essentially what we're talking about when we say automation. It's just breaking down decisions so that they're more consistent and there's less ambiguity, there's less judgment needed, there's less of a skilled resource needed to make those decisions. Let's talk about how automation contributes to growth. We know that growth is, but how does automation contribute to it? You should think about automation is driving down costs. When you talk about running a process, it costs money. It cost money and people, it cost money and time. What you're doing when you're automating is just reducing the cost of those processes to run. Particularly around the decision points that we just talked about. When you're reducing cost, you are creating stronger profits. You're increasing your profit margin, meaning that you can run the same process at a less cost. That could be less time, less errors, what have you? But that's really the foundation of automation, what it's meant to do. Think about reducing the complexity of decisions so that lower cost resources can make them, which reduces the cost of process overall. That is what we're talking about when we're talking about automation. Not replacing everybody with robots, that's not what automation is. One example I bring up for automation is you want to talk about, let's use our vacuum cleaner example from the previous section. When you're making vacuum cleaners, at the end of the line, somebody who has 20 years of experience has to look at each vacuum and say, this vacuum is good, this vacuum is bad. We have to pay that guy to stand there. What if that guy who cost a lot of money because he's very experienced, could write down on paper what decisions he makes in the criteria. I check that this is in place, I check that this piece is clean, I check that this screw is there. Whatever he has, that's his decision criteria. If we could write that down and make it reproducible enough, so that no matter what a junior person or a robot could see, could actually be reproduced to the same effect that this gentleman is doing it now, we've actually reduced the cost. Because now we have resources that are not him doing it. That also was considered automation. That's extending our vacuum example for our vacuum factory. That would be an example of automating the Q and A or the quality assurance process. This logic applies to all types of processes in any industry, digital or non-digital. 4. Defining Scaling: Next we're going to talk about scaling. Scaling is another one that people talk about. Let's scale our business and it's conflated with let's grow our business. But really when we're talking about scaling, we're talking about increasing our capacity to do the processes that we're doing right now. Let me break that down a little bit more. If in the real world, you always have a configuration of people and technology that actually come together to execute a process, this is your operating model, so to speak. When you have a number of people in technology, they have a capacity or a limit to how much they can perform. For instance, if I have two people and I have two machines for them each to use, they might be able to let say, output 10 units a day or in the slide example, six units a day. When I'm talking about scaling, I'm talking about having more demand coming in. Let say the market wants eight units a day. Well, now I need to somehow figure out how to maybe do the same process, but I just need to do more of it. Every process goes through this eventually if they want to grow because then you're allowing more demand coming from the market. Scaling refers to how do you correctly configure additional resources; be they technology, be they people so that you can continue to increase capacity to take on more demand without increasing your variable cost. Just a quick refresher if you're not too familiar with fixed costs versus variable costs, variable costs are the costs that you incur for each unit of something you do. If for instance, in the example here, you take six units today and you want to do 12 units tomorrow, you want to make sure if you're incurring, let's say $10 of cost per unit, that when I go from 6 to 12, I'm still only incurring $10 a unit or less. That's your variable costs scaling or keeping with your increases in capacity. When you're scaling strongly though, you can experience what they call economies of scale, which is that actually when you're doing more, you maybe need less resources and that would be called strong scaling. But again, what you want to focus on in terms of the definition is scaling is so that you're increasing the capacity of a particular process without increasing the variable cost associated with making units through that process. Now let's talk about how scaling contributes to growth because that's our topic. We're going to be seaming all these things together. Well, if you want to grow, you're going to be taking on more demand and we already mentioned that. If you want to go from 6 units to 12 and you're kept at 6, you have to somehow scale your operation. This is where a lot of people also start mixing different things. They can start mixing, oh, we need to automate, or we need to do this, or we need to make more products. Remember, keep these things separate. There's difference between trying to get more revenue versus being able to process that revenue at a lower cost, that's automating, versus just building more capacity in your process so they can actually handle all this new revenue or the demand for new products and services. Scaling is really just allowing your process to handle more and that's where you want to focus on. If we look at another example, and let's go not to vacuums, but let's go to something like services for instance. Let's say you're an insurance company and you've got three people who are just taking in requests for insurance and writing insurance policies. They use paper, they use e-mail, they use computer, they use all sorts of things. If they tell you, they can each only do 10 policies a day at most, then you can only write 30 policies a day. If now you want to grow and you need to scale because now you've got demand for 50 policies a day, in a very simple example you would just hire two more people who have at least the same cost, and the same skills, and abilities so that they both come in and say, "I can write 10 policies a day also." You've successfully scaled if they're the same cost and all the other factors that can be impacted; you don't have to pay more to have more people in your office or what have you. Obviously, there's a lot of factors in the real-world but that's the simple idea. I hired the new resources and I tried to handle the incoming demand. That's really what we're talking about when we're discussing scaling. 5. Balancing Operations and Projects: Now we've talked about growth, scaling and automation. But how do we start to actually execute these things in the real world? What I want to introduce next is balancing what we call operations versus projects. Most of these things are going to have to be mounted by projects, but knowing the difference is important so you can have a conversation about how these things actually balance and a real company. Let's start with operations or operating processes. Operating processes are the things that you do every day in and out. It's a stable process that you repeat to make your revenue Basically. If you think about any company that makes physical goods or provide services, it's the stuff that people call in for every day and they do over and over again to provide that service of the market. It's their bread and butter. It has usually a set of tasks associated with it with standard outputs. When you talk about projects, projects are processes that only run one time. A project process could be six months, it could be two years, it could be huge. Sometimes people forget that even though these are really long and complicated, sometimes depending on what you're trying to build, it's just one single process that has a unique output, it has one start and one end point and it's meant to produce a change in the organization. That's what a project is. When you think about balancing operations and projects, what are we actually talking about? Well, in a real world there's only those two types of processes, operating processes and project processes. An operating process which is moving every day, it starts to respond to changes in the marketplace. What I mean by that is all of a sudden customers give you different feedback or you need to make a little bit more than you're making are a little bit less than you're making and you make tweaks and you're continuously improving these operating processes so we can meet the demand or we can meet whatever the market is asking for. Eventually, you're going to get to a point where, let's say you had the capacity for six and you need to upgrade it to capacity of 12 like we talked about in the scaling section or you need a significantly reduced cost because all your competitors are. There comes a point where you can't just make small tweaks but yet to make a pretty big change to your operation, this is what triggers a project. Eventually, all process improvement will lead to a big project requirement. Then each project is meant to create a change that goes back into the operating environment because remember, if your project doesn't actually result in something that changes your operations, it's not going to happen over and over again, it's not going to really make the company any money. When we're talking about scaling and automation projects or even growth projects particularly growth project that has to make a new product let's say, these are all projects and you have to be able to balance your operations in your projects as part of this whole balance of can I even automate it? Can I even scale? Do I have the right resources balanced to grow right now? That's something you have to consider when you're talking about balancing these things. When we talk about the pitfalls or the problems you'll run into is a lot of times around return on investment. Let's say that I have this big strategy I want to grow or I want to run this big scaling or automation initiative right now, will that cost money too. That's going to be a project and projects usually caused a lot of money. For small organizations that can be significant, even at a few $1000 to enterprises which spend millions and millions of on projects every year. But the point is, even if you successfully automate and reduce your cost, let's say it reduces your variable cost by $10 a unit, but the project costs you $10 million. Well, how many units do you have to actually now sell to make up that project cost? Is it really worth it? Remember that automating and scaling and running projects in general is not always going to be the best option depending on what's happening. That's why when we talk about balance, we have to talk about do I have the resources to pull for my operation so run a project? Do I have the resources in terms of money and time to run this project? What is my return on investment? This is all part of the general ecosystem of keeping a profitable business over time. Because again, even if you know how to do all these things we're talking about, if you run your projects poorly or it cost you more money than you're going to make in benefit then your company is also going to be making negative profit over time. That's why it's so important to understand what operations and projects are and how they're balanced. 6. Sustaining Profitability: Now that we've talked about all of our definitions, we've talked about balancing operations and projects. Let's talk about how we sustain profitability over time. This was the main point of this entire lesson. When we talk about utilizing automation and scaling to do better operating processes. Again, we're really talking about reducing cost or making room for more revenue to come in. When we do that, we have to, assuming you can balance the project, so they're not too expensive in terms of what you're going to be getting out of them and making sure that you're looking at how much growth is actually coming in. Again, I might be growing organically. I might be actually marketing or promoting growth with a separate project. But I need to know how much growth is coming in and there need to be able to plan for it. If you plan for it effectively, you're going to be able to grow, increase your revenue, increase your profit, while also simultaneously reducing your cost. This seems like a lot, and it actually is keeping all these factors in balance is why this is so difficult for companies to sustain profitability. But in the next few slides we're going to wrap this up by looking at some visuals of what these patterns look like in terms of a growing business who is automating well, who is not automating well, who is scaling well, it was not scaling well. Let's take a look at some of these things in the next few examples. The first one is a company that is growing unprofitably. This is where you might ask yourself, well, how does this work? Because they're going to be growing on profits making less profits. It just sounds like an oxymoron. But think about the case of this graph. This graph is showing you where your revenue, your green line is actually going up. A lot of companies actually employ the strategy. Let's say you want to become a better acquisition target and being valued is just based on how many customers you have or how much money you are pulling in. There were a lot of scenarios where this strategy, growing unprofitably is actually the strategy that really helped businesses actually want this. What seems counter-intuitive. But if we look at what's going on here, I've labeled this unstable growth because there's weak automation and weak scaling. How you look at this in these patterns is that as growth is going up, profit is also going up, but it's going up disproportionate to the increase in revenue. Which means eventually, as you can see here, there's going to be an intersection point where all of a sudden your variable costs for operating are coming more than your revenue coming in and you start making negative profit. This means that they're not reducing costs through automation, and they're not really scaling appropriately, meaning that every resource they had to process their increasing revenue, or they're increasing demand is actually happening at a higher expense. That's how companies actually get into this situation where they're growing, and they're actually could be making more profit for a while. But eventually that profit is going to be eaten into by the increasing cost. So this is the growing unprofitably model. If we go on to growing stably, you can see here that you've got increasing costs, increasing revenue, which makes sense, but they're basically running in parallel. This would be stable growth. This means that you're actually scaling well, like we talked about earlier, in the sense that you're taking on more demand, you're increasing your capacity to do business and you're doing it at the same cost structure. Which is something to be said, even in that, you could say, oh, well that seems pretty easy, right? We're just doing the same thing we've always been doing. But actually as you add more people and you add more technology and you add more geography to your business. It tends to add complexity naturally. There's even something to acknowledge when a company can grow stably like this, which is to say, we're getting bigger. We're bringing more people and more complexity, but we're keeping our cost structure the same relative to our revenue growth. This is what this looks like. But again, this scenario shows you weak automation because they're actually not reducing their costs as they're growing. That's what this cables is stable growth pattern. The last example to tie this together is our growing profitably model or optimized growth model, as you can see at the bottom there. This is sort of the unicorn of businesses. Even though we talk about all these things, it's actually very hard to balance your operations and projects. Run a successful automation program while you're scaling and you're growing, and you're increasing revenue coming in. If you think about that, it's tough. But if you look at the outcome, if you could actually balance all of these things and do it correctly, you look at this graph and look at what this really means. I have revenue growing and I have cost growing at a lesser rate. Which means that as I continue to grow, I'm scaling to my business demand. I'm also reducing my costs as I go of my processes. My profit is just going to keep growing and growing, growing, which means over time, every unit more I sell, I'm actually making more profit on each unit. Again, this is not something you see every day because it takes a high command of all the factors that we've been talking about balancing. That really sums up the three different growth strategies or growth models that you're actually going to see businesses, the real world doing. You can see how now after we went through our definitions, it really relates to how strongly are you automating, how strongly you're scaling. Again in the background, are you doing those things profitably against your projects and your operating costs? 7. Common Roadblocks: In talking about how to actually achieve our optimized growth strategy, a lot of people can't make it because, a, it's complicated, but b, there's a lot of obstacles or what we call roadblocks in the way. I'm going to go ahead and introduce a few of those roadblocks and maybe have a light discussion about how one might identify them and overcome them if you can. The first one is probably the most difficult one, which is misunderstanding your own value chain. A lot of companies fundamentally miss after a period of operating what the value their company actually brings to the marketplace. Customers are much simpler in the sense. If you look at the diagrams here, you're going to see that if you're a boat building company, for instance, or you're building any design product, you have resources coming in the forms of revenue from the customer perspective and a company just runs processes and it delivers value, it delivers boats. If I want to pay you to make a boat, you give me a boat. Companies can get confused easily that that's what they think too, from the customer perspective, if we do a bunch of stuff internally and people want boats, that's all they care about. But actuality, the company offers lots of units of value that the market is actually paying for. In this example you see, we transform resources from lumber or you get from trees to lumber, or you actually do design work, or you have master craftsmen who can only do certain things and boat building, for instance, to actually push their product through these or the value adds that the company chains together to form their value chain. If you don't understand your own value chain, but I've seen this personally in my consulting work, in a number of companies, you forget what value the clients are buying from you. You can start to behave randomly, run random projects or automate things that the customer is not even paying for. For instance, in your boat building process, if you have a big part of it, which is, let's say adding a piece that not a lot of customers care about, and you could spend a lot of time automating or scaling to build that piece that nobody is actually paying for cares about. This is a general misalignment between what you're selling and what your value is to the customers. This is an intro to that conversation, but it's a big roadblock and it takes a lot of process improvement type knowledge or just general strategic business knowledge to identify is what I'm automating or scaling or growing towards based on the value that the clients are looking for. Another big issue is the timing. A lot of companies go through very universal lifecycles and lifecycle stages. Meaning that when I'm a young company or a startup, I have different needs than when I'm a mature company who's 5,000 people strong and I've been in the market for 15 years. A lot of timing issues are roadblocks in the sense that you don't want to run too many projects to early on, you want to really focus on stabilizing your operation versus when you're a huge lumbering company, you have lots of money on hand. You want to be risky and run more projects so you can stay innovative and stay ahead of the market, but miss timing is going to really kill your balance between operations and projects. It can really kill which efforts you can actually accomplish successfully, and it can really drive your ROI down. Imbalances and operations versus projects. We've already touched on this in various ways in the different sections, but this is one that people don't see a lot. When they talk about, our company is not growing profitably anymore. It could be because they're trying to run too many projects versus how many people they have to do it. They're running projects on profitably or a lot of their projects are failing. There's a number of things here, but the point is recognizing this balance between operations and projects is critical because a lot of times people have a very narrow viewpoint when they're looking at these things and saying, my automation project is not giving me the return. In actuality, you shouldn't even run a project at this point because it wasn't the right time or it wasn't really balanced in your portfolio. This is again an intro to a larger topic about investing in yourself, managing a project portfolio. But just knowing that this imbalance can cause a lot of issues with scaling and automation in growth. One last common roadblock that's probably the most common in my opinion, is just uncooperative teams or management. People who are not aligned, people don't understand. You know, that this is actually good for the organization. You've got politics, you've got lack of sponsorship, you've got poor communication. This is what kills most changes in organizations. You have to be aware that you're not going to stroll into your office tomorrow or talk to your boss tomorrow about, hey, we need to automate, we need to scale, we need to use this profitably, otherwise, this unit or this team or this company is going to be a big trouble tomorrow. You have to actually get their buy-in and get them to understand the different things that you're trying to accomplish. You have to run projects with good change management. You have to mitigate the risk of not everyone's going to understand or agree with you, and that's a big problem. A lot of organizations get paralyzed because of this roadblock in particular, because we can't get everyone to get on the same page. We can't get them to understand the need or what's going on or what the company actually requires at that moment. That's a quick fly-by of some of the things you're likely to run into. But I wanted to get those in this training to know that in the real world, these are roadblocks when you're talking about growth through automation and scaling. 8. Creating Profitable Growth When You're Not the CEO: Despite roadblocks that we just talked about in the last section, there are plenty of things you can do no matter what level you are. We're going to talk for a few minutes about, how do you actually sustain profitable growth if you're not the CEO? Or to say you're not the person who's running the ship. The biggest thing you can focus on at any level is process transparency. What I'm talking about here is, the degree to which information that describes the process is complete to you and your colleagues and everyone around you. This is extremely important in driving profitability generally, or continuous improvement of processes. Because if you can't see what the entire value chain is, if you can't see that the balance of your operating duties versus your project duties. If you can't see how you're reducing costs or building capacity, all the things we've talked about today, you're not going to be able to actually contribute to the efforts positively. A lot of thinking around how do you actually do this in organizations? This is the thing that everyone can do, which is increasing profit transparency around you, from you, to you. To make that more practical, it's saying, if you don't know exactly what's going on, ask. If you're the one who's holding information, start giving it to all of your colleagues. Start giving it to all of your subordinates. The more people know in process science, the more the company will just start to be more profitable organically, they'll start moving to the correct configuration of changes by themselves. If you're able to achieve process transparency, you can start to collaborate better with everyone on the team. We just talked about that, but to put to light more practically, if everyone's in the know, then the company's in the know. Then you can know if your unprofitable, you can know if any of your projects are not working. You can know if you're not providing value to the customers. All these things come with this simple dimension of being more transparent with the processes. It almost seems indirect, for me to tell you all you need to do is flow information more strongly through the organization. A lot of things will happen naturally, it seems Oh, how can that be? It's so complicate all the things we went over. But trust me on this, no matter where you are, this is the first step to having meaningful conversations to getting alignment, to tackling some of the roadblocks we talked about and getting some of these initiatives moving forward in your organization. Because no matter where you are, you can create growth, automation, scaling wherever you're sitting on a smaller scale. This is part of just building a continuous improvement culture. Because honestly, I've been to so many businesses where everyone in the ground already knows how to improve. They know what mini-projects to run. They know how to actually automate certain things like where they're doing the same things over and over again. But instead of grasping it, talking these out with their colleagues and their managers, they are waiting for instruction. They are waiting for some CEO or some mythical figure up at the top to say, we need to run this project now or this is a new corporate strategy. But in reality, continuous improvement happens at your desk every day no matter what role you have in the organization. If there's anything I want you to take away from this last bit, is that all these things you command. You command at your desk, you command in terms of how you interact and you talk about them with your colleagues. You can always be helping yourself and the business by focusing on a continuous improvement culture with a very high process transparency. 9. Tying It Together: All right everybody, so we're getting to the end of how to grow your company profitably. I want to take some time to tie it all together and summarize what we've talked about and also talk to you about this exercise that you have as part of this course. In tying it altogether, we talked about growth, we talked about automation, we talked about scaling and we also talked about balancing operations in projects, which is a more foundational layer to make sure all these things occur. Because again, growth is stably increasing revenue over time, automation is reducing costs largely in your process decision-making frameworks, and scaling is increasing capacity at the same or less variable cost. Again, all of those things take projects to achieve. Balancing those growth, automation, scaling projects against your operating processes and demands of your ongoing operations, is the trick to reaching that unicorns state that optimize growth state, where you could conceivably be growing your business and at the same time reducing your cost as you go forward in time. We talked about how impractical reality, there's a lot of road blocks to that. You've got politics. You've got the actual complexity of balancing all these things, seeing them the way we were talking about them, and then we also talked about how you, no matter who you are and what role you have in the organization, can start to make the foundation for this type of work easier through process transparency, through just being aware of what we've talked about today and contributing to good thought leadership around, hey, how do we continuously improve our processing and try to make these costs go down, or make sure that we're not increasing costs as we hire new people. Or if we're making mops or boats or vacuums or insurance policies, how do we do this stuff taking into account the principles of sustaining profitable business over time. When you tackle your exercise, the exercise is meant for you to use your own business or use a well-known business, or use your friend's business and really try to understand how whatever business model that is, because these concepts apply to all business models, that these definitions fit. Maybe even take some time with the exercise to look at what different strategies that you could use and also how you can identify some of the things we talked about in this class with what's going on in real life. Because the trick with this kind of business knowledge and process knowledge, or specifically, is how do I see how it applies in the real world. How do I actually attach the context to the academic definitions and make it valuable to me. Because if not that then it's just talking points. It's just more business jargon and that's what we're trying to combat. We're trying to combat ambiguous business jargon. When you work through your exercises, leave questions, leave comments, talk to your colleagues, understand how they're relating the concepts to their businesses and how they can help you with yours, because I'll tell you as an entrepreneur and a businessperson myself, talking this stuff out with your friends, teaching each other, working through problems, it's the best way to learn and it's the best way to grow your business and now going forward, hopefully we'll be able to grow your business more profitably. Thank you.