EP49: Intro to ScaleUps Roadmap Program and New Episode Type

Growth expert, Mentor, Advisory Board Chair and CEO Sean Steele unpacks the ScaleUps Roadmap program due for launch in 2023.

I’m very excited today to be sharing detailed insights into what’s in the ScaleUps Roadmap program that’s currently under development. 

Scaleups Roadmap is an exclusive cohort-based program that helps first-time Founders develop a strategy and execution plan that will enhance their growth rate, profitability, valuation & exit options.

Participants will walk away with a clear growth strategy for the next 3 years, a simple 12-month execution plan, a renovated and improved business model and some new business peers.  

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[00:00:00] Sean: Better growth rates, better profitability, better valuation and better exit options. And that is the core focus of this course.

[00:00:09] G’day everybody and welcome to this week's episode of the ScaleUps podcast. Today, you've got just me. No guest today. And what we're going to be doing today is I'm going to be unpacking for you what is in the ScaleUps Roadmap Program. What is the ScaleUps Roadmap? I mentioned for those regular listeners on the 9thof August that I had a new course under development. And why am I doing a course? Well, at the moment, I spend probably half my time working with clients one-onone, in that approach, in developing their three-year plans for growth, and then supporting them to execute those plans, I take them through a proprietary process of developing growth strategy. So, why am I creating a course?

[00:00:42] It's the next most sensible step. I'm clearly not a scalable resource and I can't work with everybody one-on-one, but I've noticed in taking my clients through this process, they're really getting a lot of value out of it. And I thought I've got to get this into the hands of more people. So, that's why I'm building an online course. It's online plus live course. So, today what we're going to do is we're going to unpack what the course looks like, but also I'm going to talk about at the end of the episode, a new min-series, if you like of podcast episodes, which is where I'm going to be taking content from the course, that really practical and stuff that you can implement straight away, and I'm going to be unpacking key elements of the course and the practical things to give as much value as possible to our listeners, because I know that everybody's not going to be able to join us or want to join us on the course, but I want to make sure you can get maximum value from the stuff that's in the course, even if you can't join us.

[00:01:26] So, today we're going to unpack what's it about, who's it for, what we're going to cover in the course, how it's going to be delivered even though there might still be a few changes between now and when I actually launch it. And then I'll let you know at the end, how do add your name to the wait list if you want more information or you want to find out more about it, I'll let you know how you can do that. So, at a high level, the ScaleUps Roadmap program is an exclusive cohort-based program that helps first-time founders develop a growth plan for the next three years and an execution plan to go with it that'll enhance their growth rate, their profitability, their valuation, their exit options. And it'll actually make some good friends along the way.

[00:01:55] So, what are you going to get if you do this course? Glad you asked, number one, you're going to walk away with a clear strategy. You're going to get a clear, documented and compelling one pay strategic plan for the next three-years, which when you execute, it is going to lead to better growth rates, better profitability, better valuation, and better exit options. And that is the core focus of this course. Secondly, you're going to get simple execution plan. So yes, you've got a strategy, but you also need a plan to execute it. So, you're going to end up with a 12-month execution plan that's going to be super easy for your team to understand, and it's going to help you align people to the organisational priorities. Number three, you're going to get in a renovated and improved business model. What does that mean? Well, through the process of doing the course, we're actually going to be picking up different elements of your business model, and we're going to be refining them as we go. Fourth and finally, you're going to walk away with new business peers. Sometimes founders don't actually have a lot of colleague or other peers that are running businesses of a similar size or a little bit further ahead than them. And that can make it a bit lonely at the top. So, in this course, you're going to meet a trusted group of peers, you're going to build relationships with other first-time founders that you can continue to deepen after the course. And they're going to help you road test your thinking as well as being facilitated by me. 

Okay. So, who is the program for then? Because we want to make sure that we've got the right kinds of people in this program. Number one, you're a first-time founder, which means you don't know what you don't know, and you've probably never built business bigger than the one that you are leading today. So, you kind of don’t know what's coming. You're doing an awesome job. You're building a good business, but you don't really know what's coming next, but you are open to learning, open to accelerating your growth by accessing the wisdom of a experienced scaler like myself. And you want to do it in your own way. That's perfect. Number two, you probably don't have that compelling a growth strategy and you kind of know it. You've probably got to back at the envelope plan for your business. You know what you're aiming for, but you aren't sure whether you're spending your time on the right things. And you know that if in the absence of a good strategy, you're probably leaving money on the table and also the door open for your competitors to leap frog you.

[00:03:37] Third, your business model is probably good, but it's not optimised for scale valuation. And there's a difference between having a good business and having a business that's been set up to maximise valuation and, or maximise scalability. So, you've probably been developing your business model almost in a reactive kind of organic way without being able to step back and think about it with some rigor and some framework to help you increase the quality of thinking to make it as valuable, scalable, and profitable as possible.

[00:04:02] Number four, you probably lack peers that you can road test your thinking with, you probably don't have a lot of peers that are similar stage. You don't have any people to bounce your ideas off, or that are really going to give you good quality feedback or actually challenge you because they want to support you. So, it's great to have people who say; Hey, that's amazing, but sometimes you actually need people to say, I'm not actually sure about that. I'm not sure if that makes sense. And so, you'd love to expand your network of peer entrepreneurs without having to attend networking events and CEO clubs. And this is a great way to do that. Fifth and finally, you're struggling to find time to work on your business. That's such a challenge, isn't it? You know, you need to work on your business, but you keep getting stuck in it. And without some accountability and some positive pressure to work on the business in an efficient way, your business keeps ticking along. It'll continue to grow, but it won't be optimised, which means you're leaving money on the table and you're also wasting time. 

Okay. So, how's this course going to be delivered. Well, everybody learns differently. One thing that experience has taught me over time, particularly with busy founders. You can do self-paced courses. So, watching short videos and completing tasks and activities in your own time is great because it suits the busy diary founders and they can fit it in, in small bits, in between different things that they have. That's brilliant. However, the biggest issue is that if there's no accountability, it just ends up sliding down the priority scale, because operational matters, arise all the time and they always do. And then you end up having purchased another online course, which you don't do it all and that's not good for anyone. So, that's why you're going to complete this course over 12 to 16 weeks where you're going to start and finish with a cohort.

[00:05:21] It's going to be three to four months. So, you've got a few different components. You're going to have self-paced videos and tasks so that you can learn and complete activities in your own time, fit them around your diary. You're going to be completing your strategy or working on your business model off the basis of the videos. But every month you're going to have to show up and prepared to collaborate, test, challenge your peers, learn from each other. And of course, be facilitated by myself in that forum. So, in summary, it's self-paced videos, it's practical activities where you're building your strategy, you're renovating your business model. You're going to have optional webinars where are going to be deep dives on key topics with experts that I'm going to host. You don't have to come to those. They're all going to be recorded as well, but they can supplement your learning in areas where we might want to tackle something deeper, like M and A, or selling your business or whatever it might be. And then you're going to attend your half day a month workshops. So, the time constraining commitment is only going to be the half day a month. And then the rest of your learning is your time in watching videos, completing activities, and doing the rigorous thinking that's required to actually optimise your business.

[00:06:16] So, what are we going to cover in the course? There's going to be eight modules, clear lessons, actionable things that you are going to go and do. It's not a bunch of theoretical learning that turns into some document that's academic in nature. It's 150 pages long and it sits in the top draw. I don't do any of that. I am not interested in that. And neither are any of my clients or the kinds I founders I support, you're too busy for that and no one cares. So, what we're going to do is we're going to have eight modules where you're improving your business and designing your strategy to go through. 

Okay, so module number one is, design your future. It's about getting clear on your ambitions, your motivations, and ensuring your business has got the right guide rails in place. So, we're going to look at things like capturing your purpose, determining your values, identifying your big, hairy, audacious goal; if you've ever listened to Jim Collins, getting aligned on motivation, timeline and the style of realising value if you've got co-founders, because that's super important and determining your three-year. 

Module two, assess the external environment. So, we're going to be considering your opportunities and your capabilities in light of what's coming in the future, future trends, future disruption. So, we'll be looking at global local regional mega trends, disruptive opportunities and threats, your capability, strengths, and gap, and that environment. And also thinking about your category, your business category, and your identity in that category. And what's going to be in, and what's going to be out in your business model as a result of your identity. That'll become clear in the course. 

Okay, module number three, this is where it starts to get pretty chunky. This is about optimising for scalability and valuation. So, we're going to be reflecting on your business model and refining it to make it more scalable and valuable. So, we're going to be doing things like exploring what makes your business model more scalable. We're going to determine your ideal customer profile and EBITDA You may have already done that. You may have not really spent much time in that. We're going to look at customer hates and pains and things that you can do about those to improve your value proposition. We're going to look at how you can leverage your customers or consumers or users to exponentially increase the value in your business. We're going to consider how you can develop a material advantage, not like incremental advantages; material advantages over your competitors over the course of time. We're going to consider how you can increase the real or perceived switching costs for your customers to make you stickier. We're going to look at how you can increase or add things like recurring revenue streams that can increase the value of your business and also the length of relationships you have with your customers. We're going to look at whether there's a way to align your commercial models, some of your pricing with your clients' outcome. Sometimes we find they're actually bit dislocated. We're going to look at how you can increase your cash balance through any of these strategies, how we can shorten your time to cash optimisation and cash in the bank so you don't become the bank for your customers. We're going to look at how you can leverage technology, either to solve customer problems or to make your business materially more efficient. And we're also going to look at your flywheel, which is a Jim Collins model that underpins scalability and acceleration of your business.

[00:08:46] Okay. Number four, strengthening your positioning. So, we're going to be focusing on this module and getting stronger cut through in your brand and your product positioning. So that might look at articulating your brand story if it's not very strong yet, considering the three to five things you really differentiate on, looking at your brand promises, developing guarantees that link to those promises. So, skin in the game from your customer's perspective and by you. 

Module five, we're going to be determining your big bets. And this is a big part of strategy. You know, fundamentally we're going to be doubling down on two to three things over the next three years that are really going to make you grow faster, be more profitable or competitively stronger. So, we're going to look at preparing some options. We're going to be ranking and selecting them. We're going to be testing the assumptions behind them. We're going to be confirming if you need to drop anything in your business to free up some execution capacity to go after them. And we're going to determine what does success look like? So, we've got milestones along the way as you deliver on that. 

Okay. Module six, aligning your capability and your resources. So, that's about thinking about the team that you're going to need to succeed and being able to attract the best people to the journey. We're going to look at cross functional teams to see whether they can help you execute on your big bets in the way that you organise people. We're going to assess areas that you need to develop further capability to succeed. We're going to develop your three-year org chart and confirm we're going to work back from your three-year org chart to figure out any proactive talent pooling you might need to, you know, key people that you might need to go after and actually start engaging early to attract them to you. Especially, if you can't really afford the top dogs, you might have to sort of to win them over. And we're going to review and develop an employee value proposition if you don't have one to attract high potential performers, because they really need something specific from you. 

Module seven, we're developing your financial plan and that's building your financial plan to create clarity around the financing in particular you'll need along the way. So, when we look at developing your financial plan, that's helping you understand your working capital requirements so that you can execute on the strategy. And we're also going to be thinking about if you're on a path to an exit or a path where you're going to need some investment, we're also going to be looking at the due diligence items that you might actually need to prepare like a data room over time so that you are ready when an opportunity comes up to take on investment or to take on some working capital, or if somebody wants to buy your business and you're ready to sell, you've actually got all the documentation in place that you need to make that. 

And so now we're at modulate the final module, which is about preparing your execution plan. Let's get super clear on the next 12 months’ worth of priorities and the next 90-day worth of priorities so that you can start executing as soon as you finish this course. Part of that, practicing about how you tell the story of your strategies to your people. We'll be documenting your objectives, your key results, critical numbers, like a sort of balance scorecard for the next 12-months. And by quarter, we're going to be running the three gods test over your big bets and OKRs. You probably don’t know what the three gods test is, but that'll become clearer in the course. If you want to learn more about it, go and listen to my episode on ScaleUps Podcast with Jamie Christopherson, we will be confirming your key objectives for the next 90-days, and we'll be considering the answer to the golden question, which is about what's the most important priority in the next 90-days that's going to accelerate a velocity, I guess, towards our big Harry audacious goal. And if you want to learn more about that, you should listen to the episode I did with Ben from Employment Hero than I did quite recently.

[00:11:33] Okay. So, what if you want to know more about the program? If you'd like to know more about the program and you'd like to be added to the waiting list, to get some more information, just connect with me on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/seansteeleprofile/). You'll find me under Sean Steele. You can just Google Sean Steele. I'm very easy to find on Google, or just drop me an email at questions@scaleupspodcast.com. We will have a website page set up soon, but in the meantime, that's the way to tell me if you're interested in a bit more information, but I also promised you a new style of episode. Didn't I? Well, not everybody's going to be able to make it to the program, but I wanted to be able to share some of the ingredients and the concepts from the program in a different way of picking up that content for you guys so you can get takeaway value and implement straight away whether you join us or not. Obviously, there's more depth, there's more support. There's collaboration. There's deep dive topics with the experts. There's all the video content if you are joining the course, but this week, what I'm going to start is my 10-minute Thursdays, they're going to be 10-bites of value, different concepts from the course that we work through in the course that I know that founders either get stuck on, find challenging or get a lot of value from. So, some of those episodes, in reality, I'd love to stick to 10-minute Thursdays, but my guess is they're probably 10-to-20-minute Thursdays, but they're still going to be shorter than our normal episodes with our guests. That means that some weeks you're going to get just me rather than me with the guests, but me interviewing guests is absolutely still going to be a regular feature of the ScaleUps Podcast. So, keep an eye out for the first one, which is on purpose and that's going to be coming out shortly. 

So, in closing, thank you very much for your time today. Thanks to the people who I've been talking about with this program. Thanks for all your feedback on it so far. Really appreciate the support of those founders in giving me some feedback on what they wanted to see in the program. I can't wait to bring it live. I know that's still another 4, 5, 6 months away, but I'm excited to be able to start bringing you some value from the program. And of course, if you're interested in joining us place, just reach out to me, LinkedIn, Google, or questions@scaleupspodcast.com. And I will make sure you get some more information. Thanks so much. And I'll be speaking to you next week with our first 10-minute Thursday. And we're going to be talking about developing your purpose.

About Sean Steele

Sean has led several education businesses through various growth stages including 0-3m, 1-6m, 3-50m and 80m-120m.  He's evaluated over 200 M&A deals and integrated or started 7 brands within larger structures since 2012. Sean's experience in building the foundations of organisations to enable scale uniquely positions him to host the ScaleUps podcast.

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