It happens to the best of us. We spent our time in the trenches in an effort to figure out how to get our business to the next level. We research, we calculate, and we put together a plan of action. And just when it feels we’re making some headway, we hit yet another unforeseen challenge, and we’re back to square one: figuring out how to grow our business.
Growth, in the sense that any of us think about it, is not something that all of us are looking for. Many times, growth is perceived as scaling a business and extending product lines, offerings, locations, or volume, and some companies simply aren’t looking to do that.
But to me, growth can be so many more things. Most importantly, you can grow revenue without increasing overhead, and you can grow your brand without bringing on more reps or adding another location. In fact, since growth can be defined in many ways to small businesses, to say that you’ve plateaued has a lot of meanings in turn. As usual, we need to start by defining the problem.
Did you hit your business goals?
As a business owner, step one is figuring out what plateau means to you. This usually goes hand in hand with your defining and identifying your goals. Let’s say your goal was to increase sales year over year by 5%. In the first year, you hit that target, but in the following two years, your sales did not increase at all. That would be a plateau. The same metric would apply to goals related to staffing, job counts, number of locations, and more.
By defining the metric in which you’ve plateaued, you can get a better idea of what you need to focus on. But as I hope you’ve seen with this example, you need to have business goals to begin with, which is a whole different article. The point is, you cannot recognize a plateau unless it’s measured against a metric defined by your business goals.
Why do we hit a plateau?
Now that we’ve identified the area in which our business has plateaued, we need to start digging into the meat and potatoes of “why?” Why didn’t we hit our goal? Why did we not grow sales, roof counts, etc? How come we are not adding locations, increasing profit, or adding staff?
In many cases, this simple idea of taking a step back and asking “why” is where the solution can be found. But to step out of the action and observe the situation from another vantage point is easier said than done for a lot of business owners and managers. If your company lacks effective and efficient processes, and you still wear every hat, it’s nearly impossible to have the objectivity to identify the problem. And in some cases, you’re the problem, and that’s really hard to see!
To make things worse, asking “why” is not always going to give you an actionable answer. For example, many businesses in 2021 are asking why and getting an answer they can’t do a lot about: COVID-19. Problems that are not within our control are some of the hardest problems to deal with. This is a key issue that many businesses encounter when they hit a plateau. Discovering “why” is difficult, and it takes an objective approach to recognize whether the issue is internal or external.
Solving the plateau problem
Solving the plateau problem is really the challenge of our situation because, for a lot of us, we just don’t know what to do. Maybe your goal was to grow sales, and to hit that goal, you added sales reps. But that didn’t work…so now what? This happens more often than you think. Oftentimes, it’s because the solution is simply something we can’t identify or don’t know how to do.
This is where the benefit of a third party perspective can save the day. A business consultant or business coach can offer you an objective, outside view into your business that can make what seems to be a very complex situation into something much simpler and easier to solve. In fact, what a business coach brings to the table is a perspective you don’t have. The coach has seen perhaps dozens of businesses encounter similar problems and understands best practices, honed through trial and error, that solve these problems.
If you find yourself in a situation where you simply don’t know what to do next, AJCEO offers consulting services, business coaching, and more. Give us a call or shoot us a message, and we’d love to speak with you about how we can help your business break through its current plateau!