Episode#5:Weave’s BGS Webinar Series

About the speaker

During the 2020 Business Growth Summit, Andrew K. Smith spoke about how to accelerate growth for businesses. Andrew is the CEO of Four Foods Group, a company he founded with his wife in 2009. Prior to starting Four Foods, Andrew also served as the CEO of three tech companies.

Four Foods has created over 23,000 jobs in ten years, and has developed over $200 million in restaurant real estate. Andrew also leads the Savory Fund practice, which focuses on scaling profitable yet undiscovered brands within the food and beverage industry. Together with his team, Andrew has generated over $1 billion in revenue.

Andrew’s earned multiple Entrepreneur of the Year awards thanks to his success. He credits this success to having a learn-it-all mindset rather than a know-it all mindset. He started exploring opportunities for entrepreneurship in 1998, which led him to running three different tech companies.

After that, Andrew was looking for a new challenge. He decided to try the food and beverage industry. People thought he was crazy, since restaurants have a reputation as a notoriously risky business venture. However, Andrew believes every business is similar and that with enough hard work, he could succeed in food and beverage.

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It turns out that he was right. Ten years later, Four Foods has paid $400 million in wages to its employees. Andrew and his wife are proud to provide for so many livelihoods, though their journey has been littered with the good, the bad, and the ugly. What’s allowed Four Foods to flourish in spite of these inherent challenges?

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A word from Epictetus

Andrew quotes the Greek philosopher, Epictetus, who said, “If you wish to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.” Andrew thinks about this quote all the time. Instead of worrying about what people think of you and your organization, focus on taking risks and pushing yourself, because without those risks, it’s almost impossible to improve and grow.

1. Invest in people

Entrepreneurs should look at humans as their greatest investment. Andrew likes Weave’s policy of putting people over products. Successful organizations have the right people in the right places.

Investing in people doesn’t just mean offering them generous salaries or a cool office or vacation time. It means knowing the people in your company and what they want out of their employment. Investing in people requires that business owners align with everyone else in their organizations.

Business owners are sometimes hesitant to show 100% transparency because they’re wary of competition. However, Andrew makes sure to consistently let his employees know the full financial outlook for the company. This type of transparency spawns a growth mindset that simply can’t occur if you’re not sharing your goals and outlooks.

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2. Have a purpose-bound journey

An organization’s purpose isn’t merely a mission statement that you hang on the wall. It’s an intangible feeling that informs everything you do. While it’s of course necessary to have financial goals, a purpose goes beyond a money-oriented approach.

Limiting your purpose to money leads to anticlimactic goals, says Andrew. Once you reach a dollar amount, that goal is off the table, but you still have to go forward and achieve more. Your purpose will likely change once you get off the ground, so reset and make sure your people understand your purpose and support it.

3. Execute

When Andrew refers to execution, he’s talking about something that’s bigger than daily tasks or a long-term strategy. He remembers his father telling him to have stick-to-itiveness when he was growing up. Though he was initially confused by the term, he’s found it to represent tenacity, perseverance, and commitment.

Good things come to those who hustle, says Andrew. Entrepreneurs don’t have time to sit around and wait for things to happen. They have to take the initiative and follow through with determination in order to really succeed.

Andrew tells business owners to plan today for next year. After developing a plan, maintain a sense of urgency as you seek to implement and revise it. Along the way, don’t forget to celebrate the small wins on a quarterly and yearly basis.

4. Continuously improve

Andrew believes that failure is what makes us great. Running a business is going to be a struggle much of the time. However, the most difficult experiences entrepreneurs go through are often the most rewarding and character-building ones.

Failure prepares you for more growth. Andrew urges entrepreneurs to stay positive in the midst of failure, because positivity breeds success. Though pessimism has its place, there’s plenty of times when it has no place for it. Keep your head up and keep moving.

5. The Rule of 3

The idea behind the Rule of 3 is that as organizations triple in size and revenue, they are going to need reworking. In his career, Andrew has seen this happen repeatedly. At a certain point, systems are going to stretch to a breaking point.

To combat this breakdown of your systems, it’s advisable to invest in new technologies, new processes, and new people. Anticipate that your growth will inevitably lead to having to throw away some of the tools that brought you your initial success. That way, you’ll be ready to smooth out problems that arise with your expanding organization.

In summary, Andrew emphasizes the importance of people, purpose, execution, and improvement to accelerating the growth of your business. Invest in new technology and processes along the way to be ready for changes to your systems. And don’t forget, if you wish to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.

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