Jim began his career on the fast track. In his first professional position he rose from advertising agency copywriter to Executive Vice President/Creative Director for a multi-million dollar advertising agency in less than three years.
Since then, Jim has successfully launched and grown businesses in the advertising, marketing communications, health care, organizational development, and coaching/strategic advising markets. He is a ubiquitously-published writer and has taught at the college level.
Jim is now fully focused on helping entrepreneurs, business owners, and fast-rising executives write their stories of success, profit, personal and professional growth. Here, we catch up with Jim to find out more about his exciting journey to date.
What is your background/personal story?
I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. But I had a talent for writing, so after college I got a job as an advertising copywriter. In time, I became a creative director and executive in a very successful ad agency. Then, one day I looked around and wondered what else there was. Success had come easily, but it no longer felt like success. So, I looked around for another opportunity and found… mustangs.
We were living on a ranch and owned mustangs. So, I created an organizational development company using mustangs to grow leaders and teams. Today, we’ve grown out of the round pen and into an internationally recognized leader in advising, teaching, and coaching owners and executives on successfully scaling and growing. The markets our clients serve are marked by high stress, high pressure to perform, and challenges with priorities, focus, cash, people, and marketing. Clients come to us to finally get over their roadblocks, grow the business they want, and get the life they deserve.
What challenges did you face?
The biggest challenges are always the ones rooted in ourselves. But the answers are there, too. The internal challenges an executive or owner faces tend to be the same ones their businesses face. For example, if an owner struggles with attention or focus issues, the business will have problems with direction, consistency, alignment, or progress. If an owner struggles with building relationships or leading, the business will have people problems.
What has been your biggest success?
My family is always my most important priority, and their success always carries the highest stakes. Professionally, my biggest success is the one I’m about to have with the very next client I work with.
What is your current business/job role?
I founded and own Full Forward Coaching. I have a team, but chances are it’ll be me who answers the phone when a prospect or client calls. My approach is very hands-on and focused on adding value. I coach, teach, and advise business owners, executives, and teams who struggle with focus, priorities, cash, leadership, growth, and scaling.
What attracted you to focus on helping others to scale their businesses?
We talk about ‘scaling’ but that’s a relative term. To a start-up, just launching the business successfully is scaling. Then, every growth step from earning the first dollar to hiring that first employee to drawing up an organizational chart, to learning to use cash flow in marketing strategy, to adding value, and finally selling or handing off the business. It’s all growth, and it’s all scaling because every step expands the business model and creates value.
Is there ever a good/bad time to consider scaling?
Someone told me, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.” In that sense, we all need to be growing and scaling every day. Scaling doesn’t just mean adding tangibles. It also means adding important intangibles like learning more about your market, your people, your clients. Scaling isn’t something you ponder and scratch your chin over, it’s something you’d better be doing all the time. Erik Idle put it pretty well, “The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding in all of the directions it can whiz…” So, if growing, expanding, scaling is the principal activity of the universe, we’d be wise to learn from that.
Why do so many small businesses struggle to scale up?
In a strictly business sense, the struggle always comes when we get out too far over our skis. When our people, strategy, product, cash, or structure aren’t set up to handle growth, something’s going to implode. I remember when I worked in advertising, I never told clients “no” when they asked if I could do something no matter how complex or how fast. The words I said were, “Sure. You bet we can do that!” But my head was thinking, “How the hell are we going to do that?” You can take those risks on a project basis but if you run your business that way, you’ll eventually end up flat on your face. You don’t have to be cautious to the point of second guessing your organization’s every move or being afraid to grow and scale, but you do have to be aware of possible weaknesses and pitfalls and then shore them up and have contingencies in place.
If you could advise a business to focus on one thing when looking to scale, what would it be?
Have a clear view of where you are now, and where you are going. Measure what matters. Understand the costs as well as the benefits of growth. Make sure your team is right and aligned. Celebrate the wins often. And remember, there is no losing. There is only winning and learning.
How would you measure the success of a scale up project?
I wouldn’t. That is completely up to the client. But it’s a key part of conversations prior to them making a major push to grow and scale. It’s vital that the client is clear on what must happen to rate the effort a success. They also must understand the cost of not growing and the value of achieving their objective. I want to know their level of commitment. Some people are natural water-treaders. Change is hard and that’s what growth and scaling is. And it’s not only hard, it’s scary. Fear is the arch enemy of growth. It keeps us from stretching, from doing or thinking differently. Dan Millman said, “If you face an opponent and you doubt yourself, you are outnumbered.” I know that’s true.
Finally, what is your motto?
“Et tu, Brute?” No, seriously I don’t have a motto. I do have some thoughts that remind me of what’s important and that help me to keep moving full forward. A few of these are:
- Docendo discimus (by teaching, we learn)
- Bring out what is within you….
- Never mistake a clear view for a short distance or an easy walk.
- The most important thing is to keep the one thing the main thing.
- And the one on my wall: Vocatus atque non vocatus deus aderit.
For more information visit www.jimgrossman.coach