The Secret to Business Growth – Break on through!
Business growth can feel really challenging – you figure a few things out, you achieve some success and now you’ve got even bigger obstacles in front of you!
In fact one of the biggest mistakes made is when people talk about a growth curve.
What does your growth curve look like? If it’s not flat, then it’s probably like you’re on the uphill slope of a rollercoaster – sure it might be kind of steep but it’s smooth and if you just keep doing what you’re doing you’re going to move right on up the hill.
But here’s the secret – growth in the real world doesn’t look like that! And if you’re working under the assumption that you just have to rev your engine a bit to get up the hill, then you’re going to be in trouble!
The reality of small business growth looks a lot more like a set of walls…or a staircase!
It’s not a smooth curve, it’s a series of straight up walls that have be navigated if you want to get up to the next plateau of success! If you just barrel ahead, you’ve going to hit them head on.
Growth is good…isn’t it?
People always say that growth is a nice problem to have, but if your business is running into one of these walls – it’s going to hurt and it could push you backwards.
Picture this – you’ve got a great product or service and you’ve really tapped into a set of customers that need what you can deliver. You start small, but pretty soon the phone starts ringing and business really picks up.
You start working extra hours, but the revenue is flowing so it doesn’t feel too bad. In fact you realize that you need to get help so you hire a couple of people, friends of friends that you like. You parcel out the excess work and keep churning out product (or service).
Unfortunately one of your new employees doesn’t quite do things the way that you do them. They’re bright, but they don’t have much tolerance for clients who want things a certain way…and they make a few people angry. Eventually it gets bad enough that you have to fire them (or they leave) and you’ve got 5 or 6 former clients who aren’t happy with your company.
You’ve hit a wall – if you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you are going to keep getting the same results that you’ve been getting (and work really long hours, making less money than you should)!
How do you avoid the walls?
You can’t really avoid the walls of growth, but what you can do is be strategic about how you’re going to grow. Here are a few things to consider as you’re looking at growing smart:
1. What’s your biggest constraining factor?
Do a candid end to end review of your business and identify the top 2 or 3 things that are constraining your growth (if you need help with this – call me and I’ve got some tools and a process that could help you).
Are you constrained by new leads? Do you have plenty of leads but you’re not closing as many of them as you could? Are you constrained by actually delivering the product or service? Are you delivering plenty, but not doing the little support things (like invoicing clients or paying bills) and that’s impacting you?
Or are you personally the biggest constraint? There are only so many hours in the day and you’ve maxed out the time that you’ve got, but everything has to run through you (because you’re the only one who really ‘gets it’).
What’s holding back the growth…be honest and thorough.
2. What are 3 things you could do to ease the constraint?
Once you’ve got a pretty good idea of where your biggest bottlenecks are, you need to come up with some ways to alleviate the situation.
Maybe you need to start marketing, or outsource the marketing that you’re currently doing. Maybe you need to hire the right sales person so you can close more deals. Maybe you need to automate some of your key processes that are taking up a lot of your time (or your key employees time).
Look at your business like a set of systems – once you identify the subsystem that’s not working well, then you can figure out different ways to improve that system.
You need to come up with a few ideas that you know would make a difference if they were implemented.
3. Pick a solution and commit to implementing it!
With the last step, you came up with a few potential ideas that could help you improve – any one of them might not get you all the way there, but as long as it’s a sustainable, repeatable improvement, then you’ll be heading in the right direction.
Now you’ve got to make it real – the real key to getting to actually getting something like this done is to develop a strong focus – I’ve used the analogy of a high pressure nozzle before, but at the end of the day you have to commit to building a better system. What ever needs to be done, isolate the work, carve out dedicated time to deliver it and then make sure it stays on the top of your list.
The great news is that once you make that improvement…things are going to be easier! You’ve moved up the wall – there will always be more things to do, but if you’re truly implementing and improving your systems and not just throwing money or people at the problem, then you’ll have a lot more through put when you start to focus on the next issue.
What do you think of growth? Is it a curve for you? Or have you hit a wall at some point? I’d love to hear your thoughts – please share them below in the comments!
Shawn Kinkade Kansas City Business Coach