Is it time to get off the Business treadmill?

Picture by SashaW via Flickr

Picture by SashaW via Flickr

Have you ever felt like you’re on a treadmill when it comes to your business?

Maybe your results aren’t where you want them to be, so you’ve vowed that you’re going to bear down and work even harder!  You’re already working 60+ hours, but you can surely find a few more hours here or there and your commitment to hard work and brute force will pay off this time.

Sound familiar?

The problem is  you’re headed the wrong way!  Working harder on the same things you’ve been doing means you’re only going to fail faster!

“If we keep doing what we’re doing, we’re going to keep getting what we’re getting.”   –  Stephen R. Covey

It’s not just a treadmill; it’s a treadmill that’s headed over a cliff – running faster isn’t going to help you.

Why do we fall back to ‘work harder’?

Business owners are smart – if we took the time to really think things through, most of us would realize that running faster on the treadmill isn’t going to move us forward.  But when the fires are burning and when we really need to make some progress, the easiest thing to do (at least in the short term) is to bear down and work harder.

There’s also an element of ego and pride.  You may be struggling…even failing, but no one is going to fault you for not trying…for not working hard enough.

I get it.

The problem is that if you’re an entrepreneur or a business owner, you are already wired to work hard.  99% of the time the problem isn’t effort, so working harder isn’t solving the problem…and in fact it will end up keeping you from really making the breakthrough you want!

How do you make that breakthrough get off the treadmill?

Step 1 – Slow Down:   The first thing you need to do is slow down…which will go against every instinct you have, but without giving yourself some breathing room, without taking the time to step back, just a little, and really look at the situation, there’s no way you’re going to find the real issue or a real solution.

Step 2 – Identify where the model is broken:  Take an honest look at what’s working in your business – one suggestion would be to consider doing a Business Effectiveness Analysis with a certified Business Coach, but you could also just do a personal, streamlined review of your business model.  We’ve written about a simple model called the Business Pillars which could work as well.


The key is to figure out, as best you can, what your true root cause issue is in terms of sustainable business growth.  More than likely you’ll identify multiple things that aren’t working great – that’s a great start…almost every business has a lot of things they need to work on.  A valid list is an important place to start.

Step 3 – Prioritize, Plan…and Take Action:  Here’s where you get down to making real changes.  Review your list of constraints and prioritize them based on a combination of biggest impact and your ability to fix them.  If your biggest issue is the current state of the economy…there’s not much you can do in the short term, so move on to the next biggest issue until you find one that you can address.

Then it’s time to start taking action (and different actions than you’ve been taking).  But you have to stay focused – trying to fix several things at once is a sure-fire recipe for failure and frustration.  Stick with your top priority candidate and come up with a realistic plan and approach for how you’re going to fix that issue.

Give yourself a way to measure progress and make sure you’ve got time constraints built into your plan.  If you’re struggling with a lack of leads due to marketing, then your priority may be to implement a marketing plan in the next 90 days…with a next step of allocating enough time to develop a powerful marketing plan or find some marketing help.  Whatever it is, you must be doing different things than you’ve done before – that’s the only way to get different results.

Step 4 – Measure and Keep Moving:  Business success isn’t a one time, one shot deal – it’s an ongoing process.  Once you identify and resolve your biggest issue, you should start seeing some progress (and you should celebrate…but only a little).  It’s a great first step.  Now you need to focus on the next top priority and figure out how to address that one.

Even if you’re taking small steps, if they’re in the right direction you will soon be surprised at the amount of progress you’re making.  It’s way more than what you were making on that treadmill!

Overnight successes are never Overnight!

A breakthrough in your business isn’t going to happen immediately – life just doesn’t work that way.  But you can start seeing incremental success and before you know it you are going to be way ahead of where you were just a few weeks ago.  It’s all about consistent progress in the right direction.

Are you feeling stuck on anything in your business?  Have you tried doing something other than running faster?  Would this approach work for you?  We’d love to hear your thoughts – let us know what you think in the comments below.

Shawn Kinkade   Kansas City Business Coach