An introduction to the business operating system Trust Keith used to scale to 7 figures in revenue as a bootstrapped business.
By Trust Keith
What is EOS?
When starting Trust Keith, we consciously decided to take a systems based approach to everything we do. It’s far from perfect, but it helps drive the right habits internally and deliver consistent inputs that can compound over time.
A huge part of this was led by our Head of Ops, People, and Finance - Ania Futrzyk 🔥. When Ania joined >3 years ago we implemented Gino Wickman’s Traction 📚 which lays out the ‘Entrepreneurial Operating System’ (EOS) approach to business.
For the unfamiliar, EOS provides a clear framework, set of principles, and tools to operate your company. This covers everything from defining your vision and values, driving accountability at every level, setting out your internal meeting rhythm, managing KPIs, to managing your team.
Our Desired Outcome for EOS is to become the most organised, focused, aligned, efficient, and professionally operated business we can be.
In this case study we’re going to share some of the most impactful elements of the EOS:
- Vision/Traction Organiser
- Quarterly Rocks (OKRs)
- Weekly Scorecard
- Our Meeting Pulse
- Accountability Chart & RACI
- EOS Quarterly Check-in
Extract from Traction - page 31: “Let’s start by dispelling the myth that a company’s vision has to be 100 pages long. You might need that level of detail for financing, but rarely is it necessary to build a great company. By simply answering the following questions, you should be able to clearly state your vision and enable everyone to ‘see’ where you want to go.”
- Vision Component
- Core Values: What are our core values?
- Core Focus: What is niche and ICP?
- Marketing Strategy: What are our core strategies for attracting and retaining customers?
- 10-Year Target: What is our long-term vision?
- 3-Year Picture: Where will we be in three years, supporting the 10-year target?
- 1-Year Plan: What’s our plan for the next year that is aligned with the 3-Year Picture?
- Traction Component
- Rocks: What quarterly priorities need to be accomplished to move us closer to our 1-Year Plan?
- Issues List: What current challenges, blockers, or issues need to be addressed?
- Scorecard: Which KPIs measure the health and performance of our company?
- Meeting Pulse: What rhythm of regular meetings will keep our team aligned and focused?
At Trust Keith, the answers to these questions are collectively agreed on, and iterated, using a “Vision/Traction Organiser” (V/TO). By regularly revisiting and updating our V/TO, we’re able to iterate our way to success and ensure that
Trust Keith’s first Vision/Traction Organisers
Extract from Traction - page 170: “With a clear long term vision in place, you’re ready to establish short-term priorities that contribute to achieving your vision. You will establish the three to seven most important priorities for the company, the ones that must be done in the next 90 days. Those priorities are called rocks.”
How we use OKRs
At Trust Keith, OKRs are the core of everything we do to drive the business forwards towards our vision.
Extract from Traction - page 116: “Picture a small plane, flying over the Atlantic Ocean. Halfway across, the caption announces, “I’ve got bad news and I’ve got good news. The bad news is the gauges aren’t working. We are hopelessly lost, I have no idea how fast we’re flying or in what direction, and I don’t know how much fuel we have left. The good news is that we’re making great time.” Does that sound familiar? That’s how lots of entrepreneurs run their organisation. They’re flying blind with no data to let them gauge where they are, where they are going, or if they are heading in the right direction. But they always remain optimistic.”
So What Is A Weekly Scorecard?
At Trust Keith, every function leader is accountable for a handful of numbers that tell us how our business is doing at a glance and we report on them systematically every week at the LT meeting. This allows us to make decisions based on data, instead of gut instinct.
Here are three rules we follow to get the most from our weekly scorecard:
- The numbers in the scorecard are weekly activity based numbers - e.g. granular enough to identify trends week on week.
- We use the scorecard as as a proactive tool to anticipate problems before they happen.
- We use colour coding to visually highlight numbers that aren’t on track, which partly drives our weekly LT meeting agenda
Extract from Traction - page 176: “Forever and now, let’s dispel the myth that all meetings are bad, that meetings are a waste of time, and that there are too many of them. The fact is that well run meetings are moments of truth for accountability. To gain traction, you’ll probably need to meet even more than you presently do. It’s possible to hold extremely productive meetings that even save time”
So What Is A Meeting Pulse?
Put simply, a Meeting Pulse is basically a breakdown of the different meeting types we run at Trust Keith, with pre-defined agendas for each meeting, the attendees typically required etc. The EOS book refers to this as “the heartbeat of your business”. We also view it as part of the key to effective communication with eachother - particularly important as a WFH-led business.
Accountability Chart & RACI
Extract from Traction - page 89: “you could read a hundred books on organisational development and find a hundred different opinions on the way to structure an organisation. The key question is: what is the right structure to move your organisation forward in the next 6 to 12 months?”
As part of EOS, we have an organisational chart broken down by 3 core role types:
- The Leadership Team - The people heading up the main functions
- The ‘INTEGRATOR’ - The person who harmoniously integrates all the main functions of the business. They’re the glue for the organisation, holding everything together, beating the drum, and holding the leadership team accountable. The integrator blends that friction into greater energy for the company as a whole. They love running the day-to-day and removing obstacles so that people running the major functions can execute.
- The ‘VISIONARY’ - The person who works on the big picture, connecting the dots, and researching and developing new products and services. They ensure the vision becomes a reality by stating clear goals, outlining a strategic plan for achieving those goals, and equipping and empowering each business member to take action on the plan.
- Working “ON” The Business - Designing, planning, and refining the business. Investing in the ‘tomorrow.’
- Working “IN” The Business - The day-to-day execution and running of the business. All roles then have clearly defined and publicly shared Job Descriptions, and all functions have a predefined RACI to ensure complete clarity of who is responsible, accountable, consulting and informed for each core business process.
Quarterly EOS Check-up
And finally, as part of EOS, we do a team exercise once per quarter to measure the progress we’re making as a business. It’s called The EOS Organisational Check Up.
Everyone in the business ranks a set of 22 key statements from 1-5 to deliver an overall score . This helps guide our focus of improving our operational excellence going forward.
Whilst we’ll never reach 100%, but the chase of it incrementally improves everything in the business one step at a time.
And here’s a quick snapshot of how we’ve improved as the years have gone by:
Some of these things are difficult to quantify in isolation, but collectively, here are some of the metrics we’re most proud of:
- 7 figure ARR
- £0 Investment raised - fully bootstrapped
- 15 hires - only £3k spent on recruitment agency fees in 4 years
- 73 cNPS and 40 eNPS
We are absolutely confident that without implementing and following the EOS framework, we wouldn’t be where we are today. 🎉