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The Entrepreneurial Operating System: Making a Difference in Small Businesses

The Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS) integrates a holistic business model aimed to align and synchronize all the pieces of a business to produce the desired results. This process has caught the eye of many former, current and aspiring small business owners, including one entrepreneur who discovered EOS® through reading a best-selling novel. Former business owner, Margaret Dixon has read many books on the best practices to running a business, but nothing had enticed her more than the book, Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman.

“I literally had goosebumps,” Dixon said, describing her reaction to reading the book. The lifelong entrepreneur grew up in a family business and over the years has started a few companies of her own. Over the course of five years, Dixon transformed her latest company from a start-up with just a handful of employees to an established business with 500 employees and $35 million in revenue.

After selling that business in 2007, she became a facilitator for CEO Advisory Group. It was then that she picked up the book that would change her life and her career path forever.

“I remember the sleepless nights and the pain of a lot of that,” Dixon said, looking back on her days as a business owner. “And so when I read the book I was like, oh my gosh I wish I would have had this.”

Dixon trained to become a Certified EOS Implementer to teach the EOS Process to company leaders striving to increase their business’ success. Part of the EOS Process requires company leaders to express their company frustrations and concerns. She was surprised when she found herself listening to the same concerns over and over again with each client.

“So, completely different organizations, different teams, different types of businesses, but they all experienced the same five frustrations,” Dixon explained.

According to Traction, these five frustrations are:

  • Feeling a lack of control – Feeling as if you have no control over time, investors, the market or your business

  • Lack of profit – There’s never enough profit or cash

  • People – Team members, customers, vendors and partners all have their own objectives and priorities and do not listen or follow through on actions.

  • Hitting a ceiling – Your growth has stopped and you can’t break through

  • Nothing is working – You’ve tried everything – all the popular initiatives, marketing strategies and seminars – but none have worked

To overcome these hurdles, Dixon said it’s important to step back and focus on the basics. The EOS Model outlines six key components that must be managed and strengthened to be a great business.

  • Vision– Communicate a compelling image to everyone. Describe where the business is going, and how it’s going to get there.

  • People– Surround yourself with great people. You can’t build a great company without help. It’s all about having the right people in the right seats.

  • Data– Define a handful of key metrics to free yourself from managing personalities, egos, subjective issues, emotions and intangibles.

When Vision, People and Data are strong, business leaders can focus on creating an open and honest work atmosphere. This new, transparent work environment will lead to the next three key components: Issues, Process and Traction.

  • Issues– Constantly provide updates and direction on the challenges and obstacles that must be overcome to execute your vision.

  • Process– Describe your way of completing each key element of your business. Each must be documented clearly and refined regularly.

  • Traction– Entrepreneurs gain traction by becoming great at execution with focus, accountability and discipline. They take the company vision and make it a reality.

EOS Implementers like Dixon are vital for strengthening these last three components. Dixon brings the management teams together and makes a list of all of the company issues that are hindering business growth.

Margaret Dixon

“Sometimes that means calling out the elephant in the room,” Dixon said. “That’s my job and it’s usually when we have some of the biggest breakthroughs.”

Once the list is made, Dixon will walk through each issue and tackle them individually. This brings forward real company problems and actual solutions for them.

“The model, process and tools work with any organization that wants to grow and become healthier and get people aligned around the vision,” Dixon said.

EOS has been around for nearly 20 years, and now operates more than 3,500 companies and has completed almost 20,000 sessions. Dixon said it doesn’t matter what type of business – family, non-profit, start-up, established or even government agency – EOS will work in any organization where you have people who are trying to do something more effectively.

The EOS Model is an important element in our process, The Five Pillars of Business FreedomSM. The businesses in which we invest implement EOS with a certified implementer, like Dixon, who best fits their culture and business.  Margaret most recently began working with the leadership team of one of our existing partner companies, Knowledge Center.  Encouraging all companies with whom we speak with to implement an operating process, like EOS, we truly believe it is a game changer in creating a culture of transparency and accountability.  It will give your company the best chance to grow in revenue, profit and overall team health.

 

 

 

Click here to get a complimentary copy of Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Jeffrey Kadlic A co-founder and managing partner at Evolution, Jeffrey has spent the past 15 years as an investor and private equity professional with a true passion for working with dynamic small businesses. @kadlic

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