Michael Walsh has built his company, Kaizen Consulting, into something that allows him to explore his own personal freedom. By embracing the methods that he uses when working with other entrepreneurs to help them grow their businesses, he has surpassed his own expectations for what the entrepreneurial life can bring. His Paper Napkin Wisdom was inspired from his work with a particular client who experience a five-fold increase in sales: "Thinking big is not enough."
This concept arose when Michael asked himself the following two questions: "What stops businesses from growing?" and "What moves businesses past those things that have stopped them?" The conclusion at which he arrived was simple: vision is exciting and aspirational, in the way that limbic energy is contagious. Vision without structure, however, either creates chaos or will fall flat. Vision is fast and compelling, while structure is slow and stable. (Conversely, structure without vision is like slogging through the mud).
Michael observed that while entrepreneurial businesses are on the rise - 45% last more than five years today, versus 15% two decades ago - the growth of these businesses is missing. Of those businesses that succeed, 85% fail to reach $1 million in revenue; of those that reach $1 million, 95% fail to reach $5 million; of those that reach $5 million, 98% fail to reach $10 million.
In Michael's experience, the difference between being an expert and being an entrepreneur running an expert business is three factors. Along with excelling at what you do, you must hone your skills in sales/marketing, finance, and people management (picture trying to balance four spinning plates instead of just one). Now consider that you’re also balancing these four spinning plates while balancing yourself on a ball, otherwise known as a constantly changing marketplace. When you attempt to grow from this point, your balance point ultimately falters.
The one single thing driving most entrepreneurs is freedom, and, as Michael puts it, growth equates to access to freedom. This level of satisfaction, however, doesn’t come from reducing the risk - satisfaction comes from winning in the face of the risk. In response to the businesses that approach him with questions on how to grow, Michael proposes three simple rules:
Following this process will start to fuse all of those different spinning plates into one, cohesive organization. Eventually, you will find yourself experiencing better balance and the increased level of freedom that inspired your drive toward growth in the first place.