SBM #2 - Corner Alliance at $10m

You Don’t Know Everything, and You Never Will

Small Business Black Holes exists to tell insightful, interesting stories about initially successful small businesses who found themselves in black holes and, through whatever means necessary, climbed out of them. 

I’m not going to waste your time. This isn’t going to be some drawn-out, seven-part email that you’ll have to slog through for the next ten minutes. We’re simply going to tell a story, get to the point, and then get the hell out of here. We’ve got things to do, and so have you, so let’s do this, shall we?

📓 The Overview

  • Business: Corner Alliance

  • Revenue Barrier: $10 million

  • Learning: You don’t know everything, but others might

📓 The Story

Last week I told the story of Corner Alliance getting stuck around $4-5m. The key to getting past that point was learning and working on the business and not just in it. It was at this point that, I ended up buying my business partner out. The company continued to grow and grow and grow until, finally, we reached $10 million. 

But we were stuck there… for 4 years.

Our knowledge of small businesses had been tapped out. It felt like we’d achieved our full potential and there was no way we could expand or grow. It was a disaster and felt like nothing was going to change.

And yet, we soldiered on. We continued at it, but the growth wasn’t there. After stagnating for a while I began to realize that not only did I not know what to do but no one around me knew what to do either. It was about the people and it’s a sad truth that often the people that got you to one place aren’t the right ones to get you to the next.l

I promoted 3 different people from within to manage sales  hoping to get us growing again but none of them worked out. Being our sales person was like being Darth Vader’s Admiral – you had the job but it didn’t last long.

It took me a while to realize that I knew how to sell but I didn’t know how to structure a sales process and team that a larger company required. So instead of promoting from within, I hired a more experienced sales person from outside the company who helped us build a team and process. 

But we weren’t done. I had to turn over about 75% of the leadership team and empower new leaders. Fortunately, many of those people were already internal but just in the wrong positions.

Now? We’ve grown over 50% already and we’ve built a bigger sales process, and our target is for $30-35m in 2024.

After that?

Who knows….

🧑‍🎓 The Lessons: 

  1. When you as the owner don’t know what you’re doing, hire people who do. Accept that some people will be smarter and more knowledgeable than you.

  1. The team that got you to one place isn’t the full team that will get you past the next goal post.

  2. Don’t be afraid to take risks on people, and if they go wrong, then they go wrong, and that’s okay.

📅 Next Week:

We told you, this was going to be short and sweet!

But this story still doesn’t end here. Next week we’ll discuss how processes were the key to sustaining the growth we experienced..

It’s rather different to this, but still super valuable. Stick around for next week and we’ll be back in your inbox 😎

Keep growing,

Alan

P.S.

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