The 4 Horsemen of Business Growth

Every business owner I know wants 3 things: more income, more impact, and a better (easier) lifestyle. Ask someone their goals and I’ll bet you a bottle of wine that whatever comes out of their mouth next falls into 1 of those 3 categories.


  • I’d like to grow my business by 25% this year. (Income)
  • I’d like to help 100 more people lose weight with my program. (Impact)
  • I’d like to finally be able to take that vacation and be able to relax. (Lifestyle)

Here’s the problem: most will never, ever, ever get there.


Most don’t even know how.

Couple that with increasingly prohibitive regulations, runaway taxation, and a government staffed from top to bottom with people who have never owned a business and you’re in even deeper water.

I know that sounds harsh, but there really is a silver lining in the midst of those dark and stormy clouds. In fact, it’s the same set of actions that has built kingdoms, created billionaires, and changed the world.

And it really comes down to 4 steps…or if you prefer…4 actions, that when done in a simultaneous fashion open up the door to greater income, impact, and lifestyle.

(NOTE: I was tempted to call these “4 simple steps,” but I deleted the word “simple”. These steps are simple to grasp and simple to execute. What isn’t so simple is doing all 4 consistently long enough to see the results.)

#1 – Take Responsibility for EVERYTHING

This point is SO lost on our culture. Think about it – we live in an amazing world filled with inventions that would blow the mind of anyone who lived before us. We have phones that connect to the internet and cars that connect to satellites. Our food stays cold without having to add more ice to the “ice box” and our bodies stay warm without having to add more wood to the fire.

We are rich beyond measure. King Louis XIV would marvel at your flushable toilet. And Rockefeller would give up his kingdom in exchange for your phone that takes directions (and talks back).

And yet…our culture WHINES.

Seriously, have you ever read blog comments or Facebook replies? It’s crazy. It’s a sub-culture replete with high-bred, well-fed critics. Never having created anything on their own, they turn inward and choose instead to criticize the few (of us) who do.

Several years back a Navy carrier left San Diego and promptly ran into a sand bar. The next day the captain lost his job. Why? Simple – he’s the captain and Navy carriers don’t run into sand bars. He wasn’t even on the bridge at the time of the incident because he was under tow from a tugboat. The accident really wasn’t his fault at all.

But it was his responsibility.

As a business owner, the moment you take responsibility and own everything that belongs to you is the very same moment that you start achieving breakthrough in your income, impact, and lifestyle.

So stop blaming your assistant, your team, or your social media clowns. You hired them and you’ve so far decided to keep them around. I had on client call his sales team “a bunch of drooling idiots.” It was HIS sales team and HIS company.

Start now. Repeat after me…

“From This Day Forward I will take full responsibility for everything that happens in my life and in my work. No matter how small, no matter how insignificant, it is all my responsibility. I refuse to blame anything on anyone else. I am in charge and I will act that way.”

#2 – Increase Capability / Skill

The 2nd thing you must do to increase income, impact, and lifestyle is to get better. Think of this as constant, never ending improvement. The market is changing. You better change right along with it.

Recently, I took a speed reading class and started taking typing lessons (fun!).

I currently read an average of 2 books a week at roughly 400 words per minute. When I get to 800 words per minute, I’ll be able to either read 4 books a week or read 2 books in half of the time.

As for typing, this is being typed with a ridiculous “hunt and peck” method that has served me poorly for years. It’s long overdure (<= see…m y speling scuks wehn I hnut and pcek). I spend at least half of my average work day typing. Seems like a good thing to get better at, right?

I’m also working on things like becoming a better writer, communicator, speaker, and presenter. Between us, I’m pretty good at all of those things (the speaking part especially). But I also know that to get to the next level, I need to take it up a notch.

Increasing skill is not only necessary, but it’s also fun. Who doesn’t want to learn new things or get better at something you’re already good at?

Here’s the place to start. Make a list of the things you want to learn. Then get started with the ones that you’re most excited about.

Then get going and get better.

#3 – Increase Marketing Activity

Here is what I mean by marketing activity:

  • Getting new leads
  • Making new sales

In my experience, less than 10% of the activity in any given business is centered on these 2 activities.

In my opinion, it should be 70% or more.

If you were in the cavalry (and you wanted to win wars), you would focus on only a handful of things: healthy horses, sharp swords, and well trained warriors.

If you were a business owner and wanted to make money, you would focus on: getting new leads and making new sales.

It’s a worthwhile exercise to just audit your week and ask yourself how much of your time is dedicated to getting new leads and making new sales. Most business owners are shocked to find out how low the percentage is. They spend more time on Facebook, email, or iMessage than they do getting paid. Flip those percentages and you’ll see some magically great results.

Will it take a bit of discipline? You betcha, but then again, nothing worth doing was ever easy.

#4 – Maximize Your Use of Time

This last one is like the catalyst that when joined with the other elements can explode your income, impact, and lifestyle.

The plain truth is that most (ok all) business owners suck at managing their time.

Want to know why?

There is NO such thing as time management.

Think about it – time moves at exactly the same speed no matter what we do. We are all simultaneously rushing along at exactly 60 minutes per hour. There’s nothing we can do about it…and there is certainly no way to manage it.

I’ll tell you what you can manage though: people, systems, and YOU.

Managing people is as simple (or as hard) as saying “No” a lot. For example, today I set aside the afternoon to do some reading and writing. It was a gigantic battle and a race against the clock to preserve what ended up only being 2 hours. I declined calls, delegated tasks, turned off my phone, and closed my email to get it done.

Managing people means not being a control freak, delegating responsibility, and doing the 1 or 2 things you do best.

Managing systems is all about using ones and zeros to make your life easier. This includes autoresponders, sales systems, & communication systems. It’s the ability to automate anything you do more than 3 times in a row so you can be free to do what you do best. I could write chapters on this topic alone (and maybe I will).

Last, there is “YOU management” – the hardest of all 3 by far. You Management means spending 70-80% of your time doing only those things that you do best – the things that engage and inspire you.

Let me ask you an honest question: how much of your work day today have you spent on activities that excite and engage you?

I went ahead and answered my own question. Being perfectly transparent, here are my numbers this week:

  • Monday: ZERO – big goose egg.
  • Tue: 2 hours (my goal was 6 hours)
  • Wed: 4 hours
  • Thu: 1 hour
  • Fri: 1 hour (being very generous – it was more like 10 mins)

You want to know something? That’s frustrating. My goal is to spend 20 hours a week in activities that are in my top 3. For me those are…

  1. Learning new things
  2. Creating new things
  3. Communicating new things

(“New” is a big thing for me)

This week I’ll walk away at 40% of my goal.


But hey, guess what? Looking at those numbers again, there is something really exciting too. I got to spend 8 hours doing what I LOVE.

And at least that’s a step in the right direction.

Ok, back to you there, Sparky. How are you doing with this? Do you spend most of your week doing what you love? Do you even know what you love?

If not, that’s a good place to start.

Ok, so there you have it. Do you want to have more impact, income, and lifestyle. The answer is in 4 simultaneous actions: take responsibility, increase ability, increase marketing activity, maximize your time.

Now go do that!

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About The Author

Ed Rush is a world-renown speaker, a five-time #1 bestselling author, and a highly successful business consultant who was featured on CBS, Fox, ABC, and NBC. He has spent a significant amount of time in the cockpit of an F-18 fighter jet, so he knows the value of strategy and the power of focus. He has effectively taken the principles that he learned flying faster than the speed of sound, and translated them into good business. His clients range from small startups to multinational organizations, and include CEOs, founders, political leaders, sports teams, national universities, Hollywood stars, and even a contestant on Donald Trump’s The Apprentice. To buy any of Ed's books, visit his bookstore right now or hire Ed to speak at your next event.