From time to time, the growth of your business will slow or even seem to stall. It’s vital for you to understand whether this is simply a case of normal growing pains or whether your business has gotten stuck on the far more dangerous plateau. There are clear ways to determine this, and two questions you need to ask of your business when making this diagnosis.

I have met with a number of business owners who believe their business is on the dreaded plateau. Maybe they’ve started strong and suddenly things aren’t moving at the same hectic pace they once did. Growth may have slowed a little. It’s easy to panic if your business has been growing and suddenly it has two bad months in a row.

What’s the plateau?

I always say you will know the plateau when you see it, but you need to know what you’re looking for.

Essentially the plateau is a place where your business is stuck and where it will stay unless you make some true efforts to move beyond it. The plateau is defined by flat business growth. There’s no timeline that says if your small business growth is flat for a certain period of time, you are plateaued. I’ve worked with businesses that have been plateaued for nine months and some that have been plateaued for ten years.

Want to See Where Your Business Stands?

For long-term success, it is vital that business owners have an accurate picture of where they are today.

Take it Now

You may have done things but nothing has changed as a result of your actions. Much has changed in the market, with your competitors, and what you’ve done internally; you’ve had time to react, to contemplate, to move things around, and still nothing has changed. That is the great small business plateau.

Two vital questions for small business growth

When we work with a client to determine whether a business is on the plateau, the first question we ask is: What have you tried to do? When we ask our clients what they’ve done to get their business growing, we find they always go to their default skillset to try to find a solution. If a business owner’s background is in marketing, he or she will usually try to jumpstart the business by focusing on marketing; if his or her background is in finance, that’s what he or she tends to focus on.

The second question we ask is related to the first one: Who’s on your team and what are they responsible for? How a business owner answers this question shows where the gaps are in their system, whether that’s in their infrastructure, the skills of the people or the focus of the business.

Either way, how do we get back to growth?

Whether your business is stuck on a plateau or is just facing unique growing pains, the Spark Business Institute (SBI) can help you get back to growth. The unique thing about SBI is our core philosophy that we address a group of folks who aren’t being addressed elsewhere and we offer them comprehensive language and specific tools to help their businesses grow. If we don’t have a specific approach for a client, we have an expert who is part of SBI that can speak to any issue. Whether we’re actually taking someone on as a client or referring you to an expert, we’ll always find a way to help your business thrive.