For any business to be successful, it’s important to not only master your work, but your business as well. While strategizing, designing, and implementing complex signage solutions is our work, and something we take pride in, we are equally passionate about building a world class business that adds value to our employees, clients, and community.

It’s one thing to be able to make signs well, it’s another thing to run an effective business. With this in mind, we have committed ourselves to becoming students of business and entrepreneurship in general. In this series of posts, we want to take a look at some of the books that have shaped our approach to running the Sign Brothers, and hopefully shed light on some concepts that can help you in your business, whether you’re making signs, selling commercial real estate, or something completely different.

This is the first blog in our reading list series. In this post, we are going to be diving into the book Traction by Gino Wickman. While this is a very well known book in the business world, we thought it would be a great first book to cover.

Before we get into the meat of the book, it’s important to understand who wrote it and what their perspective is.

Who Is Gino Wickman?

Gino Wickman jumped into a job making gears at a machine shop straight out of high school. He worked his way through the ranks and then quit to get into real estate. He wanted to join his dad’s real estate coaching business, but his dad said he had to sell $5 million in real estate before he could join the business. Gino promptly did so and was able to join his dad’s real estate coaching business and work his way up to the executive team. Once he joined the executive team, he learned that the company was deep in debt. Gino was able to pay off the debt, make the company profitable, and sell the company within 5 years.

After these experiences in business, Gino moved into coaching entrepreneurs and writing books. He’s written 8 books total that have sold collectively over 3 million copies, and has helped hundreds of companies hone their businesses through his Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS).


Traction is Gino’s first book and most widely read. In this book, Gino introduces his Entrepreneurial Operating System, which all his other books expand on. The EOS is the central theme of the book, and the tool that Gino uses to help companies get more traction in their business. Traction focuses on helping companies attain better results by increasing focus and accountability.

There are 6 key components to the EOS, each of which help leaders overcome what Gino points out are the 5 main obstacles to any company:

  1. Lack of control: you aren’t running your business, your business is running you
  2. Lack of alignment: people aren’t aligning with vision and goals
  3. Not enough profits
  4. Hitting a growth ceiling and not knowing how to move forward
  5. Lack of sound strategies/tactics

EOS isn’t an idea pulled out of thin air, but is built on ideas pulled from The Emyth Revisited, Scaling Up, The 4 Disciplines of Execution, and Good To Great.

In order for the EOS to be implemented effectively, change has to start from the top. The leader of the company has to implement 4 mindset changes:

  1. Build a real leadership team: Stop doing everything yourself. A capable leader is often times the bottle neck of a business. If everything has to flow through one person to get done, that person will always be overwhelmed, surrounded by a flock of inept yes men.
  2. Accept and Plan for Set Backs: company growth is never a continuous uptrend, but an erratic series of growth spurts. You will hit ceilings. Simplifying your business, predicting potential issues, and planning to tackle those issues when they arrive will help you move forward when you face those set backs.
  3. A single operating system: Every aspect of your business needs to run off of one operating system so that every person in your business from clients to employees to partners is aligned with your goals and vision.
  4. Be able to admit when there’s room for improvement: Willingness to see shortcomings and embrace new ideas to grow and improve is integral to success.

Once a leader understands and buys into these four mindset shifts, they are now ready to lead the charge into implementing EOS in their company. Here’s the 6 fundamentals of EOS:

1) Vision

In order to do this, you need to get your vision out of your head and into a place for your company, clients, and partners to see and buy into. Here are the elements of a strong vision:

  • Core Values
  • Core values are 3-7 guiding principles that help everyone in your company work toward the company vision. Core values help you hire the right people, find the right strategic partners, and find the right clients.

    If you want more information on core values, check out our blog post on core values.

  • Core Focus
  • In Good To Great, Jim Collins calls this the “hedgehog concept.” It’s the one thing that you and your company are laser focused on.

    2) People

    Your company may be greater than the sum of its parts, but in order for it to be where it needs to be, you need to have the right people in the right roles.

    Your core values are integral in helping you identify the people that share your company’s core values.

    Once you have the right people, consistent accountability will help you understand your people’s interests, strengths, and weaknesses and get them in the roles where they are most needed and effective.

    3) Data

    As Peter Drucker famously pointed out: “What’s measured gets managed.” In order for your company to move in the right direction, you have to identify which data is worth tracking and what data is superfluous.

    Without measuring and understanding the right data, it will be impossible to know whether your business is reaching its goals or not.

    4) Issues

    Your company’s ability to identify issues, overcome them, and keep them from arising again in the future is imperative.

    Ignoring issues completely, or focusing on surface level solutions will just keep your company continually running into the same obstacles.

    Wickman encourages leaders to create an issues list and then resolve each issue with the three step IDS process (Identify, Discuss, Solve).

    5) Process

    Developing 6-10 fundamental processes that together form your company’s 1 core operating system help you have consistent results.

    To do this you need to document your processes, continually hone and improve those processes, and implement every process throughout your company so that you have alignment around your process.

    6) Traction

    When you have Wickman’s fundamentals in place, Traction is the process of keeping the ship on course over time. Keeping traction in your company consists of two main components:

    Quarterly Rocks – Goals can be intimidating. Breaking them into bite sized 90 day chunks can help make things attainable and help you know if you are making progress or not. Each rock should be SMART (Simple, Meaningful, Actionable, Realistic, Trackable)

    Meeting Pulse – Having consistent leadership meetings to review company progress. Having quarterly and annual meetings without fail will help to look at data, solve issues, review quarterly rocks, and solidify alignment.

    How Traction Has Impacted The Sign Brothers

    Traction has helped us solidify every aspect of our business. As we discuss in our core values posts, our core values have helped us have a true north for what kind of leaders we want to be, what kind of people we want to work with, and what kind of company The Sign Brothers is.

    When we started Sign Brothers, our vision and values were personal and lived in our heads. We weren’t measuring data, and all major company decisions rested on our (Michael and Justin’s) shoulders.

    After reading Traction and implementing EOS in our business over the years we’ve been able to build a business that isn’t only more systemized, but is more fun to lead. It also gives our employees the consistency & security that was missing in our early years. We’ve been able to attract & develop amazing leaders in our company who align with our clearly defined values. They are able to thrive in our company because of the trust they have in one another, and the systems that we have in place to quickly address any issues that arise.

    We’ve implemented clear accountability for our employees that allows us to identify and reward where they are crushing it, and work on areas where they need to improve. We are proud to have built a team of employees and a list of clients that share our values.

    When we started, we worked on signage of all shapes and sizes from small batch yard signs, to creating and installing vehicle wraps. The timelines for these jobs were quick, and our clients needs were broad & often custom. By honing our skills in project management & manufacturing, we are now able to execute large signage projects with a high standard for quality, client communication, and on-time installations.