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Why businesses fail to scale and how to fix it

Small businesses form more than 95% of all businesses in major western countries, and while definitions differ, it’s clear they are vital to economic growth and the provision of jobs. Yet most of them struggle to scaleup. In 2022, only 7% of Australian businesses made over 2 million AUD in annual revenue. In America, the median small business turnover is just 387,000 USD and in the UK, 286,482 GBP.

“The typical complaint of small business owners is that they just don’t have enough hours in the day. Their problem is not time management, it’s focus management. You must grow yourself in order to grow your company. Make the shift from expert to entrepreneur, from operator to owner. Be a leader. Give up being busy and become effective. Focus your time on strategic matters that move the needle.” – Tom Williams

After launching a new business, founders are full of passion, drive, enthusiasm, and determination to succeed. However, after a few years, despite burning the candle at both ends, they typically bump into a growth ceiling and don’t understand why what got them to where they are won’t get them to the next level.

In his new book Startup, Scaleup or Screwup, Tom shares what he considers to be the quantum shifts founders need to make to bust through their growth barriers at several different levels of turnover. He goes on to explain the essential springboards for founders to achieve sustainable business growth without burning out or sacrificing time for themselves or their families. These pillars are proposition, planning, people, process and promotion.


Tom's first-hand experience of the step-ups and the screwups on the journey gives him a deep understanding of the unique challenges at each business growth ceiling. He helps founders understand the steps required to breakthrough these and where they may paradoxically be standing in the way of their own success.


Exploring these topics, the book unpacks the power of the right value proposition, business models and planning using growth strategies and financial tracking. Tom discusses building teams, communicating effectively and retaining talent alongside optimising business processes through a mix of systems and personal productivity. Finally, the book details effectively promoting a business through marketing, lead generation and sales conversations and how when combined, all these elements can help a business keep growing.


Intended as an entertaining and practical guide for small business owners, Startup, Scaleup or Screwup offers a fresh perspective and insight from a successful serial entrepreneur. Instead of spending time juggling a never-ending to-do list, Tom highlights the few key areas that require disciplined focus to move their business forward. For any business owner that is struggling to grow their company, the actionable formula that this book offers will be invaluable.


Tom Williams is a growth business coach, entrepreneur and principal of business consultancy InnovationConsult. He specialises in coaching expert-based business founders how to break through their growth ceilings and scale their businesses.


Originally trained as a scientist, Tom quickly caught the entrepreneurial itch and over several decades since has been the founder or co-founder of five diverse businesses. Through his career, exits have included selling an investment management company to HSBC and growing a bio-tech company from a startup to a public listing on the Australian Stock Exchange. Tom’s other innovations include introducing video marketing to the pharmaceutical industry, creating the first mathematical model of the Australian stock market, and the conception of Qantas business class travel, which was the world's first Business Class.

ISBN: 9781781337684              Launches: 15 June 2023              GBP 16.99 / AUD 28.70 / USD 21.99

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