If your business is like many out there, it’s probably been characterised by a period of rapid early growth followed by a slowing, culminating in a plateau. You have some good years and some not so good, but overall you are doing pretty much the same as always.
Why is that? You probably worked out quite quickly how to market your products and sell them and you grew the business until everyone in it was at capacity.
The distractions grew. You had to recruit more often and this took time. More employees came with more expenses. People left or were fired. You had to replace them. Taking more of your time.
Perhaps customers started to complain a bit more regularly about the quality of your delivery and then you started to loose one or two. Getting more sales wasn’t the answer – you lost customers as quickly as you found new ones.
So as a result, your business growth slowed and reached this plateau. You can spend more time and money on sales and marketing but to no avail. You surge forward but then drop back. Getting more sales isn’t the answer on its own.
The majority of owner managed businesses get stuck in this situation. They may be profitable, but their owners are working harder and harder to stand still. That’s why I ask, is your business stuck in neutral.
I’m sorry to say that the key is to understand that you, the business owner, may be the main cause. If you are the centre of everything, trying to stay in control, you naturally become the main constraint on growth. Let me ask you, can you go on holiday and turn your phone and email off for two weeks? If not, then it’s likely that you are the constraint.
So how do you break out of this plateau?
The answer is that most businesses that get stuck in this phase don’t have their processes written down. It’s all in the head of the owner or a few key employees.
So to break the cycle, we start by documenting all of the day-to-day activities that need to be done so that anybody in the company is capable of doing them. This might mean writing them down, or creating flow-charts or pictures or even videos of the processes in action – whatever it takes to document them simply for anyone to follow and carry out.
This activity in itself makes the business less reliant on you the owner. And it will free up your time as you can now delegate more activities. Time you can use to document more systems and processes to lay the foundations for growth.
With proper management systems in place you can put your business back in gear and kickstart the growth you’re looking for…