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Build Your '4 Corners' of Entrepreneurial Success

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 8/03/2016 John Bowen

Building a great business is a bit like putting together a jigsaw puzzle: It's usually smart to start with the corners.
In your business, the corners make up the framework from which everything else follows. Without the corners in place, you can spend entirely too much time spinning your wheels.
So says Cameron Herold, who knows a few things about building hugely successful companies. A serial entrepreneur since age 21, Herold is best known for taking residential junk removal company 1-800-GOT-JUNK? from $2 million in revenue to $106 million in just six years. Today, he mentors other entrepreneurs and CEOs, showing them how to generate and navigate big growth. He's also the author of the book Double Double -- How to Double Your Revenue & Profit in Three Years or Less.
2016-03-01-1456859664-7795182-aes_herold.jpg © Provided by The Huffington Post 2016-03-01-1456859664-7795182-aes_herold.jpg Building your four corners
Here's his best advice on what every successful company's four foundational corners should contain.
1. Core Values. Identify the three or four core values that your company stands for, and write them down in clear, short sentences. Don't pick more than four, as too many values start to muddy the waters in the mind of your team and your customers. Core values should be things that already exist within you and within your core employees, and -- this is key -- should be so important to you that you would be willing to fire anyone who breaks them. "That's where most companies fall short. They post the values on the wall, but they don't live and breathe them," says Herold. "At the end of the day, even Enron had core values. They may have been posted, but nobody cared about them."
2. Core Purpose. When you really understand your core purpose -- why you exist, and what really drives you -- you can begin to propel yourself and your organization, and attract the right people to you like a magnet. For example, Herold's stated core purpose is helping entrepreneurs make their dreams happen. "That's why I get up in the morning and why I do what I do," he says. "But most companies lose track of their purpose over time. They end up talking only about their products and what they do instead of why they do what they do."
3. BHAGs. We're all familiar with Jim Collins' concept of the "Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal." As he explains in his book Built to Last, a BHAG is clear and compelling, it focuses effort and is a catalyst for team spirit, and it has a clear finish line.
And yet, looking out beyond today to identify a true BHAG proves challenging for most of us. Herold believes that a lot of getting at a BHAG comes down to giving entrepreneurs some examples from companies that have done it -- like Microsoft's "a computer on every desktop," followed later by "a computer in every household."
Says Herold: "We don't dream big enough. In North America, we tend to try to make what we already have a little bit bigger. What we need to do is pull people together and ask, 'what's one big thing that we could do that would really knock the cover off the ball?'"
4. Vivid Vision. Do you have a vision statement -- maybe a six-word sentence that's supposed to sum up your mission? If so, toss it out, says Herold. "We all know they don't work. They're too obtuse and we see that they're kind of hokey even as we're making them," he says.
Instead, create what Herold calls a Vivid Vision: A three- to four-page written description of your company as if you were viewing it from three years in the future. "Describe what the culture feels like, what the media is saying about you, what your customers are saying about you, and what your employees are saying about you," he says. "Pretend that you're actually describing every single area of your company's org chart as if you're three years out from today -- and in so much detail that anyone who reads it says, 'Oh, my gosh. I can feel it'."
Then share that Vivid Vision document with employees, potential employees, customers, suppliers -- even bankers and other sources of capital. "When everyone can see where you're going and you get them all aligned, they will help you conspire to make your goals happen," says Herold. "They'll pull with you all the way."
Indeed, Herold believes that this concept is so important to success that his current BHAG is to replace the term vision statement with vivid vision worldwide.
Keep building
Of course, once you've got the corners of your jigsaw puzzle in place, it's time to start building the rest. In a future column, I'll share with you Herold's insights on what should make up the four "sides" of any hugely successful company.
Looking for a sustainable edge that will help catapult you over the competition? Check out the insights, tactics and actionable strategies from today's top entrepreneurs at AES Nation.

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