Many factors can inhibit your business from growing. Here are four of the most common growth inhibitors and a strategy to deal with them:
- Day-to-day operations overwhelm the owner.
The most frequent growth inhibitor I see is that the owner becomes overwhelmed by operations, so that they become a production cog instead of the person shepherding the business and paying attention to a higher-level strategy. They spend their time reacting and putting out fires—and often they get so used to this role that they think it is their best role in the company. A large percentage of the owners I have coached have become prisoners of their billable hours and the service aspect of their business. It’s rare to find someone for whom this is not an issue, but it is vital for the owner to remember to prioritize working on the business, not simply working in the business. Failing to do this is a major growth inhibitor.
- The owner doesn’t hire experts and give them his or her full trust
It is rarely a conscious choice but too often business owners don’t completely trust anyone to make decisions for their businesses but themselves—and this is a huge growth inhibitor. An entrepreneur or owner needs to have people in place who are true experts and who are responsible for making decisions in their area of expertise. If you can’t find people who can make decisions that are sometimes even better than yours—or you can’t allow it—you have effectively capped the business on your intellectual capital. It is a fallacy to believe you have to be better at everything than everyone else.
Many owners think they have overcome this because they have hired people from whom they seek advice, but if these people are not empowered to make significant decisions on their own, you are still facing a growth inhibitor. You must trust the experts on your team to make the decision and implement change when they believe it’s necessary.
Lack of Capital
Many business owners would likely consider lack of capital and the inability to invest cash into the organization as their business’ greatest inhibitor. This can play a real role in limiting business growth, but my experience is that this is often ranked a lot higher than it should be. I would make the case that a business owner who does well in eliminating other inhibitors will find their access to capital opens up. It’s not a question of getting the capital and everything will follow. It’s more a case of: get rid of other inhibitors and capital will follow.
I see a lot of businesses that perfect a couple of areas of their business: they polish their marketing and they make sure their sales force is at peak performance—and then suddenly lots of orders come in and they realize they don’t have production lined up well and they can’t produce what they said they would. The areas are out of balance. This is frequently a business growth inhibitor.
- Overcoming Inhibitors
Finding the solution to all inhibitors begins in the same place: charting the needs of the business. Whether the owner draws a chart on a napkin or uses a complex computer program, the key to overcoming growth inhibitors is to create an actual diagram of the different areas of the business, tracking the development and activities of each area, and comparing it to other areas of the business.
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It’s easy to get distracted; to focus on the areas of the business that represent the owner’s strengths or to ignore a weak aspect of the business. (Often an area that gets ignored is technology because it can be daunting for owners who aren’t technology oriented.)
Once you’ve laid out your schematic, look at the areas that have the least definition to them, the ones with the fewest steps listed. This shows you where you are likely paying the least attention or not realizing their full importance. These areas are often anchors, weighing your business down. This also is an indicator for where you need to engage experts other than yourself.
Charting the activities of your business gives you the clues you need to know which areas of your business are inhibiting its growth.