Whether you’re pursuing the coveted seven figure mark in your startup journey or trying to make the leap from seven figures to eight, scaling a business invariably proves to be more elusive than starting the business in the first place. The scaling journey is fraught with obstacles that force you to reevaluate and rework your systems and processes over and over to accommodate rapid growth.
This was no different for Ally Lozano, one of the leading business coaches whose mastermind for female lawyers has changed the lives of thousands seeking to quit their 9-5 job and launch their own business. As a lawyer by trade, Ally went down the traditional path of going to law school and never expected that her journey would lead her to quitting her law job and taking the leap to start her own firm. But in those early days starting out, her budding business was earning just $40,000 per year when she realized she needed to grow beyond thinking like a lawyer in a solo practice and instead start thinking like a business owner and a CEO. As she dove into teaching herself about marketing, management and business strategy, she soon reached the six figure income mark just several months later. Within two years, she reached seven figures.
Today, Ally’s firm generates more than $10,000,000 per year, which has also led to her passion for mentoring and coaching other female lawyers to follow the same path. Her coaching and masterminds now help thousands of women who want to start their own law business and the lessons learned along the way ring true whether you’re startup is a law firm or any other type of business. We caught up with Ally to get firsthand insight into what it really takes to scale.
How do you set goals and plan for them?
Ally Lozano: I like to set crazy, seemingly unattainable goals (i.e. an amount of money that I want to earn in a year), accepting that I have absolutely no clue on how to achieve it. Then, I keep laser-focused on that goal and create measurable benchmarks to keep myself on track. Let’s say, for example, you want to earn $1,000,000. In order to get there, you need to break it down to how much you need to earn monthly ($83,333) and then weekly (approximately $20,000 a week). From there, you have to check in on the 7th, 14th, 21st, and last day of the month to see how you are progressing. By being intensely focused on the numbers, your energy will flow there and you will begin to construct your choices and strategies to get you there.
It sounds simple, but it truly requires laser-focus. You cannot ever miss your benchmark check-ins. You have to live for checking in on your progress.
What’s the most difficult part of reaching 7 figures?
AL: The most difficult part of reaching 7-figures is the consistency that is required to get there. You must show up consistently for marketing, sales, and for your clients. With marketing, there are no days off- no breaks from posting content. You have to show up every single day without excuses.
You have to create systems that are replicable so that you can create consistent results. Everything has to be able to process in the same way over, each and every time, regardless of who is in the role. (As the book The E-Myth states, it is about becoming “systems dependent” instead of “people dependent.”)
What are the operational differences between a 7 figure and 8 figure companies?
AL: When going from a 7 figure to an 8 figure business, you must learn how to scale. The operations are similar, but so much larger, and there need to be many controls in place. You move from having one large team to having departments with department heads. In an 8-figure business, you need to have a corporate management structure with an executive team of CEO, CFO, HR Director, CTO, CMO, COO, and more. When you have a home-grown business, you have no idea that these things are needed! I only recently realized that, though I had never worked in a large corporation, I created one. I didn’t even know what a corporate structure was, let alone how to make one.
Also, operationally, one challenge is to make everyone feel connected to the business’s mission. If people do not believe in and adapt the values of the business, then the business itself will fail. It takes creative, regular communication with the entire firm/ business in order to make everyone feel invested in the team.
What are some of the unique personality traits that a founder must possess to scale to 8 figures?
AL: Scaling to 8 figures is not for the faint of heart. You have to be willing to be wrong and also accept that you will fail.. a lot. In fact, I live by the mantra, “Rush toward failure.” Whenever I have a new idea that I want to try out and we start to implement it, our team goes fast to get to those first failures, because once we have them, we can tweak things and improve the idea or realize that the idea simply won’t work.
Becoming an 8-figure entrepreneur requires humility and at the same time a steadfast self-belief. These qualities often feel in direct opposition to one another, but they work together. You have to know you’ll fail first (which requires humility to accept) and then succeed second (which requires extreme self-belief when you are deep in the failure).
Do you believe that remote teams can scale as effectively as an in-person team?
AL: I have found that a hybrid of an in-person and international remote teams are the best way to scale overall. In-person teams are always going to be limited by space (i.e. running out of space in an office space and needing to move) and talent (i.e. I need an all-bilingual team and am located in the Pacific Northwest). By leveraging international workers, you can scale more quickly without the same limitations. It is powerful to divide up the teams by what truly requires an in-office presence and what can be done with a virtual team, and then maximize both teams.
Are there parts of scaling you would have done differently?
AL: If I could go back and do it all again, I would have leveraged international virtual workers sooner. As you grow your business to 7 and then 8 figures, you have to work hard to overcome limitations that you place in your own mind. My law firm has broken the “status quo” of what law firms are like, and even though I knew that I was going to disrupt the legal industry in my area of practice, I still was tied down by the way that things were always done. I thought many positions had to be in-office. This greatly limited my growth and ability to scale because of lack of space and talent. I was innovative in some ways but had a very fixed mindset in other ways. Part of scaling is being willing to forget anything you ever learned about business or your industry and think way outside the box.
Also, bring in experts early. They will help guide you to the right next steps when it comes to growth. It is hard to know who you need if you have never grown a business to 7 or 8 figures before, but as I have grown, I have been able to gradually connect with experts who have then brought me resources and points of view that I would not have had otherwise. These experts have been key in my ability to scale to 8 figures.
What’s one thing you do to work on your mindset each day as an entrepreneur?
AL: Mindset is the key to success. Every single day I have to challenge myself to not be stuck in any particular way of thinking. I am an attorney and attorneys suffer from an affliction of thinking that we are always right and that our way is the best way. This is a dangerous way to think if you want to grow. I have to constantly find ways to overcome my “lawyer brain” and find new and innovative ways to think of my business and of myself. I also do a lot of work to uncover any limiting beliefs that could be holding me back from rising.
For all of us, the sky’s the limit.. as long as we get out of our own way.