XL.net is a strategic IT and employee engagement services firm for small and medium-sized businesses based in Parkridge, Illinois.
“I don’t know an entrepreneur without a business operating model that doesn’t live in chaos,” says Adam Radulovic, President of XL.net in Park Ridge, IL. “EOS offers a path out of the chaos you’re probably in today.”
In September 2020, Adam and XL.net were accepted into the Forbes Business Council, the foremost growth and networking organization for successful business owners and leaders worldwide. It’s a testament to their hard work and perseverance, as they made their way through the chaos.
Rapid Growth, Rapid Problems
Before starting XL.net, Adam had worked for both Fortune 500 companies and small business startups. He noticed that small businesses had a lot of passion to get their dream going, but that they kept stumbling from lack of basic, standardized business operations.
“I wanted to help remove the things that were tripping them up so they could accelerate. Having an IT background, I wanted to go in and help them with that area first. Then later, address their human resources and finance issues.”
Adam says that, from the beginning, he got clients pretty rapidly. But as more came on board, things quickly got out of hand.
“My messes got big enough that the only way I knew how to address them was by putting in 80-hour work weeks.”
But it only took one fateful day for him to realize things needed to change… fast.
“I went to visit a new client and while I was there, I was getting calls from other clients. So there I was, trying to put out all these fires at once. That’s when I snapped. I got in my car and drove to the nearest gas station, bought a bunch of junk food and energy drinks, and just started consuming everything at once. I got on the phone with my brother and said, ‘You either come down here to help or I’m folding. I can’t handle this anymore.’ I have to say that I’ve never had a breaking point like that in my life.”
Sprinting A Marathon
Adam describes what running his business was like before EOS.
“It was nothing for me to put down several energy drinks every day just to sustain myself,” he says. “I was putting myself under constant pressure. I’d say that for every day I worked in the business, I was aging five. I wore every hat in the company which was emotionally overwhelming as I was accountable for everything. It was like, ‘Let me grab this. I’ll just do it myself.’”
And that caused a lot of frustration with his employees.
“I would jump in and be like, ‘Oh no, that’s not how you do it. You gotta do it like this.’ And later I thought, ‘How would they know? It wasn’t written anywhere.’ It wasn’t documented and it wasn’t followed by anybody. It was osmosis followed by everybody.”
Getting To The Heart Of Things
It was in 2012 when Adam and his team realized they needed a business operating model.
“Our org chart was causing friction,” Adam says. “We had two presidents and an outside partner came to us one day and said, ‘You guys are a little different. You might want to talk this guy named Clark.’”
He was referring to EOS Certified Implementer® Clark Neuhoff who introduced Adam to EOS as well as to the book, Traction. At the same time, Adam’s Vistage Chair also recommended he read the book. That’s when Adam says he connected the dots and took action.
“We brought Clark in and our first Focus Day™ was brutal,” Adam says. “I thought Clark was just going to come in and make slight improvements. Instead, we spent four and a half hours just on the Accountability Chart. It was emotionally challenging going through it and by the end, I was ready to cry. It was painful, brutal, and necessary. But ultimately, what saved us allowed us to thrive.”
Fortunately, Clark’s calm, confident approach was just what was needed.
“He came in and said, ‘Trust me with the path we’re going to take. We’re going to address all the issues one by one. But today, we need to do this first,’” Adam says. “After we were done, every single person on the leadership team was sitting in a different box.”
Adam says that the concept of bringing in EOS to the company was welcomed by the employees. But once it began rolling out, that attitude changed for some.
“There was a subset of XLnetters [XL.net employees] that thought things were turning really bureaucratic, that it was micromanagement. They felt threatened by being held accountable for providing their numbers for the Scorecard. We used the 5-5-5™ tool and the People Analyzer™ and realized that these people weren’t a fit.”
For Adam, the accountability piece was very important.
“I told people in the company that we have to be held accountable because our clients hold us accountable. That this company is accountable to them because we have to pay them every two weeks and they’re not going to be happy if their paycheck doesn’t show up on time. So really, everyone has to be accountable for their role in order for the business to work. Now some of the people didn’t like that and they left.”
Adam is the first to recognize that in many cases, the people who left were amazing, but that the model wasn’t for them. Interestingly, the EOS seed was planted in a number of them and took root later on.
“Even though they didn’t like it at the time, several of these people brought EOS with them into their new companies. They came back and said, ‘Now that I’m in a management position, I get it.’”
Helping Others Achieve Their Goals
“We’ve gone from a half a million-dollar company to over three million with 25 full-time employees. The great part is that, instead of working 80 hours a week and being highly stressed and anxious, I’m down to 40 to 45 hours a week and am completely relaxed about the business. I no longer feel like if I don’t do something tomorrow, bad things are going to happen. And that’s what we had before.”
For Adam, EOS has been a life-changer.
“I finally have the quality of life that I want,” he says. “The business is growing and thriving and people have noticed that I’ve calmed down a lot.”
It’s also given him some time to reflect on where he’s been and where he’s going.
“In the beginning, I wanted autonomy,” he says. “I would work for a company and it would be sold off or purchased. It felt like I was building sandcastles. I have something to impact the world and I need autonomy to do that. And now I have that.”
Adam’s vision is to help 10,000 entrepreneurs achieve their goals and to help them get there faster and more efficiently than he did.
“I remember the pain that I went through both as an employee of a small business as well as when I was starting my own small business. In hindsight, I know the mistakes I made and I want to be able to remove that worry from others. I’d love to remove that pain from others to allow them to realize their vision. That charges me up.”
XL.net is implementing EOS with the help of Certified EOS Implementer® Clark Neuhoff
Key Takeaways – Leadership Lens
As an entrepreneur, chaos may seem like a normal state of affairs, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Using the simple concepts and practical tools of EOS, entrepreneurs and business leaders can make operating in chaos a thing of the past.