Before I get started, know this…the first step of finding any solution is awareness that there is even a problem. If you view the discovery of a problem from a solution-focused perspective, you’ll be on your way to improving any situation. It can be painful…but sometimes pain is good. And hopefully the problems pointed out here will shed some light on a path to solutions.
In business, usually you’re either growing or dying. And we all want our business to grow, right? It’s painfully frustrating when an owner just can’t “make it happen”. They’re stuck. And often times, the solution eludes them because they either don’t have the time…or take the time to step back and gain an objective view of what’s really going on.
A business is an extension of the owner’s “self”, and it’s extremely difficult to view ourselves through the looking glass. It’s those key moments of clarity that can cause some amazing changes to happen in our business…and lives.
Here are 5 reasons why a business doesn’t grow:
1. Unwillingness to Adapt
“We’ve always done it this way…”
Failure to change is a death sentence. And it’s been proven over and over again.
Ever hear of Sears? Anybody who remembers Sears in the 80’s and 90’s knows that their catalog was the bees knees when it came to retail. What happened? The internet. Sears wouldn’t adapt to the coming changes in the late 90’s and 00’s. So…a little company called Amazon took over. And we all know where Sears is headed now.
There are 2 key ways to grow a business: innovation and marketing. And if a business owner isn’t willing to throw out what they know and take a different approach when needed, they risk having a business with “closed” sign on the door. If something isn’t working…take a different approach. For example: if offline marketing isn’t getting the job done…change the approach to digital marketing.
2. Not Developing Business Acumen
Business acumen is the concept of having a “business sense”. There are many owners out there who run a business and either don’t have, or develop their business skills. If someone owns a business…their job is business. It’s their craft. And they should be continuously learning and developing that craft so they can make educated decisions on where to take their business next.
Imagine if a tax accountant stopped keeping up with new tax codes…yikes!
Here’s a fantastic insight…many business owners spent a heap of time managing their business, when they should be spending time managing themselves FIRST.
3. The Owner is “Stuck in the Kitchen”
My lame restaurant metaphor (not so much a metaphor if the business is a restaurant) refers to a business owner being stuck working within the business…and not on it. They’re stuck working behind a counter, stocking their store, cleaning the bathrooms…or even literally working in the kitchen.
They spend so much time performing day-to-day operations, that they leave themselves zero chance to either view their business objectively or work on their acumen. They get stuck in a vicious cycle that can go on for years.
4. Only Defensive Strategies are Being Used
There is a distinct difference between defensive and offensive strategies. Defensive strategies refer to cutting costs, laying off employees, going with cheaper vendors, or process improvement (for the purpose of cost-cutting). There is a time for defensive strategies, but they can be used too much. If a business owner uses these often, it means they’re viewing their business — and life, for that matter — from a state of scarcity rather than abundance. And you can’t grow without abundant, forward thinking.
So what are offensive strategies? Remember…the 2 ways to grow a business are through innovation and marketing.
5. The Business isn’t Necessary
Ouch! What does that mean?
It means exactly what it sounds like.
If someone started a local bakery because they love baking — and didn’t consider any other reason why they should start it — then they’ve put themselves at a serious risk of failure. The question they should be asking themselves is, “Is there a need for a bakery in the area?”. Maybe there are 6 bakeries in a 5 square mile radius in a not-so-large city. Why would the city need another bakery? It’s already saturated. So, how can the bakery grow when the area is flooded with the same thing they offer?
Well, I suppose they could implement some innovation…reinvention, even. They’d have to find a way to clearly stand out while still delivering something the market needs. Why?…because the market comes FIRST. And if there isn’t a need for a product or service, it’s not going to succeed. The core of why a business exists is the “human stuff”.
If a business owner finds themselves in tough spot like that — and innovation won’t solve their problem — sometimes the best decision to make is “turning the key”, shutting it down, and going with another business altogether. Not that doing something like that is easy. For most, that thought is downright devastating.
Many reasons why a business doesn’t grow trails mostly back to the owner lacking self-awareness to adapt, grow, learn, and manage themselves accordingly. A business is an extension of its owner. And a hard pill to swallow is that it all comes down to them…not their employees, their industry, their location…just them. The good news is that they can develop a willingness to change and grow. Identifying the problem can lead to the solution. Then, they can start seeing results in business they never thought possible.