By Verne Harnish
Craig Martyn has built a thriving company selling a product that’s an unexpected hit at a time when business has largely gone digital —metal business cards. He started My Metal Business Card 12 years ago while running a previous model-train manufacturing business that eventually was acquired. At that business, he learned chemical etching, which he now uses to make the business cards.
My Metal Business Card, based in La Habra, Calif., has grown to 100 employees and $5-10 million in annual revenue. It has made its cards for employees at Chapstick, Facebook, Google and Levi’s, to name a few clients. “I’m in the business of helping them stand out,” says Martyn, who studied advertising in college. The business has also created metal VIP passes for musicians such as Guns N’ Roses.
This hasn’t been easy. “It’s a really tough business with a lot of lead time,” says Martyn.
One secret to the company’s rapid growth has been applying the Scaling Up platform. Martyn is a member of Entrepreneurs’ Organization and has worked with Scaling Up Certified Coach David Chavez for 2.5 years. Here is how they put the company on its growth trajectory.
Knowing what matters to employees
To make sure he was hiring the right people to scale the company, Martyn worked with Chavez to identify the most important qualities for his team. They arrived at three qualities: smart, motivated and humble.
As he has added to his team, he has sought frequent insights into how team members feel about working for My Metal Business Card. Every week, team members receive a Weekly Pulse Survey to measure their happiness, asking questions like whether they enjoy the team activities the company is planning or if they are happy with the technology they’re using. “These are things where people may not want to speak up,” says Martyn.
Embracing the One-Page Strategic Plan
Another key part of the company’s work with Chavez was completing the One-Page Strategic Plan, which the leadership team revisits every quarter. When they started their work together, says Martyn, “ I didn’t have a clear strategy, other than what was organic, for the first eight to nine years of the business.”
Together they set a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) of selling 60 million metal business cards by 2030. To reach that goal, the company has embraced Quarterly Themes. One recent one was “Race to 500,” where the company’s team aimed to have 500 “upsell” conversations over three months, with a prize of a party and half-day off if the goal was attained.
Following the customer journey
To pinpoint areas for improving Execution, Martyn and his team traced at the entire customer journey. They look closely at “customer hassles” and “employee hassles,” with the goal of eliminating them.
As part of the process for identifying these frustrating experiences, Martyn and his leadership team go through all of the hassles reported by a customer or an employee weekly. They have a process for listing the hassles on a whiteboard so they can discuss each one.
“The bottom line is there is a system to review all the feedback on a weekly basis—important or urgent,” says Martyn. “It empowers the employees.”
If the company decides not to act on a particular piece of feedback, the person who submitted it gets notified. “We close that feedback loop,” he says. “When someone submits feedback, they know we are listening.”
Keeping cash flow healthy
Revenue at the company has doubled in the past three years, says Chavez, and profits are up. Chavez says the Scaling Up platform helped him empower his team in a way that made this possible. “What it’s really done for me as a business owner is taken all of the decision- making off my back,” says Martyn. “These team members are making better decisions and have better ideas than I do.”