Why Manufacturing, Trades & Technology Businesses Get Stuck
All business owners find their businesses get stuck in certain areas from time to time…or even all the time. Sometimes “sales” are flat and business owners just can’t seem to grow their revenues anymore. Lack of profitability is another common challenge. Even if your sales are growing, profitability (or lack thereof) seems to be stuck.
Or maybe you’re the business owner who just can’t seem to get control over your time. When you went into business for yourself, you thought you would be rewarded someday with the freedom to come and go as you please. Yet, as the years go by, you find yourself working just as many hours as you did in the early days of your business. You’re stuck.
Here are some other areas where business owners get stuck:
- Lack of cash
- People problems
- Lack of leadership depth
- Lack of direction
- The same mistakes happening repeatedly
- A poor working environment with cliques, backstabbing, and drama
- Expenses that are out of control
- Labor costs that are completely out of whack
- Frequent customer complaints
- Frequently blown deadlines
- Excessive waste
- A feeling of being paralyzed…not knowing what to do next
The reason these things happen is relatively simple. It is centered on the fact that all businesses go through cycles.
In the “start-up” cycle of a business, it is typical to focus heavily on growing sales. That makes sense because as everyone knows, without sales there is no business.
You also needed to put some structure into your business, so you put systems (formal or informal) in place and for a period of time, they worked! But as time has gone on, the fast-growth you had in your early days has flattened and now you find yourself stuck at a particular revenue level. Your systems of yesteryear are still in place, but since efficiencies aren’t where they should be, you have a feeling your current systems aren’t as effective as they used to be. Chances are you’re right!
What does this mean?
It means that you have come to an end of a cycle and have entered a new cycle in your business. By the way, a “congratulations” is in order because that means you successfully made it through your last business-cycle.
It also means that the successful strategies you used before are not the same that will work to take you to an even higher level in your business. You have to do things differently. Simply put, your strategies have to grow as your business grows.
The good news is that businesses get stuck. It is a common problem. And with common problems, there are common solutions!
The fact that you’re reading this separates you from most business owners who don’t take the time to find out how to become “unstuck.” Instead, they stress out over it, they’re frustrated, and they just continue to get beaten up by the same old thing on a daily basis. They hope things will change on their own. But we all know that “hope” is not an effective way to run a business.
So what can you do about it?
Steps to help you get “unstuck!”
A great first step is to think of all the reasons you started (or bought) your business in the first place. What were you trying to accomplish? What was your business supposed to look like with respect to revenue, profits, culture, reputation, and how the business would serve you (the owner)? Please, go ahead and write those things down. When you do this, you’ll actually be creating your vision statement. Why is it important to have a vision statement? Because if you don’t know where you want to go, then how do you know how to get there?
Make a list of all the things that are different in your business and in your life than you expected them to be at this point in time when you became a business owner. For example, if you’ve owned your business for five years, think back and make a list of all the gaps between where you’d hoped you be by the five-year mark and where you actually are today.
Here are some things to think about as you do this:
- What did I expect my annual sales to be? Where are they now? How far off am I?
- What did I expect my average day to look like at this point in time? Is that different from how I spend my time today?
- How much money did I think I’d be earning by now? How much money am I actually earning?
- What did I think our team would look at this point in time? How does it look now?
- Where do I have gaps from my vision (created in Step-1) to where I actually am today?
- What are all of the things I wish were different about my business and my life?
Look at each of the points you wrote in Step-2 and next to each, write down all the reasons you think you’re off-track from where you expected to be at this point in time. Do a total brain-dump for each. In other words, just keep writing bulleted statements of why you’re off-base until you can’t think of any additional reasons. Please be sure you do this for each point you wrote in Step-2.
Go back through the list you created in Step-2 and pick the top two things you most want to get on-track. It’s not practical (or even possible) to fix everything at once, so be thoughtful in choosing the top couple of things you want to fix. A good way to determine this is by asking yourself the question, “If I could wave a magic wand and solve only two of these things, which ones would they be?” Once you’ve chosen your top two things to fix, move on to Step-5.
Go through each of the top two priorities and for each, please do another “brain-dump” of all of the possible solutions for each. In Step-3 you identified all the reasons you thought you had these issues. To help you determine the possible solutions in this Step, looking at the “reasons” for those challenges (as written in Step-3) will be helpful to you. Once you have all of the possible solutions to each of the top-two challenges, please go on to Step-6.
Choose one of your top-two challenges and look at all of the “possible solutions” you wrote for that challenge. Go through the list of possible solutions until you can choose two “top solutions” that you think should be completed first. Once you’ve chosen the top-two solutions for your first top-challenge area, please repeat that process for the other top-challenge area. When you complete this Step, you will have successfully determined the four most important solutions you need to implement to get you unstuck! (Two solutions for each of the challenge areas). Now, go to Step-7.
Look at each of the four solutions you wrote down in Step-6 and ask yourself, “What can I do in the next seven days to begin implementing those solutions?” You don’t need to fully implement the solutions in the next seven days! In fact, it’s likely that’s not even possible. But you do have to start to implement the solution. So think of the first steps you can absolutely commit to taking within the next seven days for each solution. Note: Since it’s very likely you have many other things to do during the week than just work on these first steps, you may want to make sure you can complete all of your first-steps in two hours or less of total time. It is important that you do not overcommit in this step. Whatever you commit to doing, you must complete in the next seven days!
Congratulations! You have your top two areas of opportunity (challenges) to start capitalizing on. You have a bulleted list of strategies for each and you even have actual steps you can take within the next week to put those strategies into action. But you can’t stop here! You have to make sure you take the time each week to (1) measure the results of last week’s action steps, and (2) plan the following week’s action steps to keep you moving toward achieving your objectives. And this is how business development is supposed to be…step by step…one week at a time.
Now it’s time for a reality check! The fact is the eight steps above are not necessarily difficult to do. But here’s another fact: Knowing what to do is far different from doing what you know! And the power is not in the “knowing,” it’s in the “doing.”
As business owners, we’re the boss. We aren’t accountable to anyone other than ourselves to develop our businesses. That’s a blessing…but it’s also a curse! It’s a blessing because “freedom” is important to all business owners. It’s a “curse” because without constant, deliberate business development, it’s only a matter of time until you become stuck again. As a result, your profits, cash flow, company value, and quality of life will never reach their full potential.
That’s where business coaches come in! When you hire a great business coach, you will add structure to your business development planning. You’ll have regularly scheduled days and times to work on the plans and you’ll never have to do it alone. Your coach will help you reach clarity in determining what needs to be done and specifically how to do it. Your coach’s number one responsibility is to help you and your business reach maximum potential.
Business coaching works!
Think about it…the best athletes have coaches. The best artists, musicians, and business executives have coaches, too. When you work alone (without a coach), you lack structure, support, and someone to ask you powerful questions to help you check yourself and make the most strategic decisions. And here’s another bit of common knowledge: We all need someone to support us in our pursuit of growth. If left to our own devices, we’ll settle into our comfort zones and merely be “fire-fighters” with every day being a continuation of yesterday. Since “business development” never seems pressing, it’s the first thing business owners dismiss. Unfortunately, if the owner is not doing it, nobody is.
You may be thinking, “Yeah, I know, but I think I’m ready to really do this now. I’m going to do it alone.” Okay. I hear you and I wish you all the best. But when you realize that this turns out to be just another flash in the pan, don’t be discouraged. Instead, allow yourself to do something different and just call a certified professional business coach for a free 60 minute strategy session. It can’t hurt, but it just might be exactly what you’re looking for!
Call to action!
Instead of fooling yourself into going alone, call a business coach today. Don’t let another day go without setting yourself up for maximum returns. You have nothing to lose in getting a free strategy session, so pick up the phone and call me at 604.374.5934 or email email@example.com to schedule yours today.
All businesses get stuck. Congratulations on taking a very smart first step to getting yourself unstuck!