SBM #3 - Corner Alliance at $15m

Real Personal Shame

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: $15m

  • Learning: Your knowledge needs to be in the processes, not the people

📓 The Story

We finally got to $15m in annual revenue after years of pain, trials and tribulations.

(Check out the previous two editions of SBBH to find out how we got to this point.)

And we’ve just signed our largest client to date. 

The sales thing was working well.

Then we found out that this client was extremely unhappy with delivery.

And we were quickly faced with two sobering realizations: 

  1. We had the wrong team place.

  2. Our processes weren’t good enough.

Time slowed down to a standstill, I started to question everything. 

Was I capable enough to do this? 

I felt like a total failure. 

Real personal shame.

We had run out of all the people who knew how to do stuff. In our company, there were people that we knew for a long time and worked together. And so there was a bunch of unspoken standards and practices that those people know how to do. 

And now we were hiring whole new teams of people and we didn’t have the processes and oversight set up to make sure they do a good job. 

It was a systemization and process thing. 

Anyway, we were about to lose this client, so we had to run in and do a bunch of heroics.

And fortunately, we did.

But the real work started when the client was happy again.

  • We didn't have the right customer satisfaction, onboarding and oversight processes. 

  • We didn't have effective performance management.

We needed EOS.

We brought in a fractional COO as an Integrator.

We:

  • Set up the right customer processes.

  • Put the right people in the right seats.

And now we run completely on EOS. With each sub-function also running EOS.

We’re on target to hit $30-35 million in the next financial year. 

🧑‍🎓 The Lessons: 

  1. You will need to upgrade people and processes as you grow.

  1. Adapt or die. The only constant is change and it's so important to adapt to the environment around you.

  1. The pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist hopes it will turn, and the realist adjusts the sail. 

📅 Next Week:

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

This will be the last edition about Corner Alliance for now. Next week we’ll discuss the importance of knowing your audience and the significance of brand positioning… with a story about a different small business. 

Stick around for next week and we’ll be back in your inbox 😎

Keep growing,

Alan

P.S.

Any questions about any of these stories? Ping me on X.

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