Working “On” your business, not “In” your business is a great concept I learned from Michael Gerber’s book The E-Myth Revisited. Like all entrepreneurs, we wanted to grow One Horn, but we were spending most of our time “In” the business doing the actual operational work of sales and dispatch ourselves vs. working “On” the business, improving our systems and procedures to replicate the “One Horn Experience” in a scalable manner as we took on more and more customers.  To be able to spend more time working “On” the business, we needed to delegate the daily operational aspects so we could focus more on strategy and growth.

As a solo freight agent, the size of your business is limited by your personal capacity, the number of loads you can physically book per day.  Depending on the nature of your customer base, you can get to $1-1.5 million, maybe even $2 million in revenue on your own, but then your business is like a job that you are tied to with no further growth potential unless you get some help.  If you want to grow beyond that $1-1.5 million range, it is key for you to start working “On” your business.  By working “On” your business, I mean stepping away from the day-to-day operations to devote time to a written growth strategy and plan.  Someone once told me that “A goal not written down is just a dream,” so writing it down is key.

At One Horn, we have regular strategic planning sessions where we do PowerPoint decks to outline where we are and where we want to go, including the time frame an action steps to get there.  That is how we constantly work “On” our business, often reinventing it. As a Freight Agent, if you want to grow your business beyond the solo range, it is very important to physically write a plan with a sales goal and the type of staff necessary to achieve that goal.  At One Horn, we encourage our agents to become agencies, adding sub-agents, dispatchers, and/or sales people to work for them to enable them to achieve the growth they desire.  Here are some of the steps they follow:

  • Select a sales goal and a time frame, for example “to double sales in one year.”
  • Do monthly projections to estimate when the sales would come in and what type of help and facilities you can afford, in order to create a budget.
  • Assess your strengths and decide where your first new staff member should be.  If you love sales and are great at business development, perhaps you would like a dispatcher who could handle your loads once the customer is established.  If you hate sales, then the opposite would be true, and a sales agent might be a better first hire for growth.
  • Determine if you want everyone in an office together, or if you want to work virtually.  Some of our agents choose to have a rented space to have their teams together so the rental costs are incorporated in their models, while others operate virtually, all connecting to our systems via the Cloud.
  • Consider which compensation structure would be right for your budget.  Some of our agents split their commissions with their new hires, and our system automatically calculates the custom compensation structure by agent or sub-agent, so the cost fluctuates with the work.  Others choose to hire hourly employees so they have a small fixed cost that they know they will have to cover every week.

These are just some of the steps to starting to work “On” your business vs. “In” your business.  It is also important to monitor your progress and adjust as you go along.

In my next series of blogs, I will share some learning I obtained during a recent EO event, where Warren Rustand shared the High Performance Pyramid developed by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz of LGE to teach us how World Class CEOs, like World Class Athletes thrive under pressure and can mobilize their energy on demand to achieve consistently high performance. Whether you are an independent freight agent, own your own brokerage, or work as an employee in a transportation brokerage, these principles can help you improve your performance, too.

– By Cheryl Biron, President