Are you an entrepreneur who has reached the point where the growth of your business is stuck? Are you at a plateau where it seems like you cannot break through the challenge of your current revenues? Whether that is $1M, $5M, $20M, or more. The challenge is that the people and actions that got you to your current point, will not take you to where you want to go next. If you are stuck in a plateau and want to grow your business, here are some areas to focus on.
Entrepreneur: When you started your business you had to do it all. That’s just the way it works. As a business grows, you have to similarly grow as an individual. Things that you used to do, you have to delegate and more importantly you have to let go of control. There are two solutions to this challenge. The first is to really understand the gaps in your knowledge, surround yourself with people who can fill those gaps, and then grow yourself into the next version of your entrepreneurial self. An entrepreneurial coach can be invaluable in helping you through this process. The second is to step aside into the role you are best suited for (e.g., engineering, product development, or sales) and hire a new CEO with more experience. Either solution requires you to let go of many aspects of your business that you used to handle yourself.
People: The people you hired to take you to your current size, may not be the people with the knowledge and skills to grow your business to the next level. This requires that you take an impartial look at your strategic goals for the business and each role required to take the business to those goals. Some of your senior team may need to move on or step aside. As your business grows, your #1 focus needs to be to grow the next leaders of your company. Put a lot of energy in making sure that those senior leaders you keep are helped to grow into the next level of performance and capability for them. You will likely also need to bring in one or two more experienced team members to help grow all of you.
Operations: The systems and processes that work in a $1M a year business are not sufficient to handle a $5M one. If you want to become a $5M business, you need to start putting in place the next level of operations that are capable of handling your increased business before your existing ones are overwhelmed.
Markets: If you have reached a plateau in growth, you will likely have saturated your existing markets. The solution to this is to move sideways into adjacent markets or to develop new products and services for your existing markets. While this sounds obvious, most entrepreneurs shy away from this. It feels like starting your business over, going back to those early entrepreneurial days when you founded the business, figuring out your critical brand promise and how you consistently deliver on that promise. Growing into existing or new markets is easier when you already have the track record, people, and resources of a successfully running company. What you do need is the planning and commitment to take the plunge.
I believe more than ever that in order to blast through a revenue plateau, you have to put the time aside to take your senior management team off site and work on a plan that starts by looking out three years for your revenue and market goals and only then working backwards to figure out what you must do this year and this quarter. That effort will highlight which of the areas identified in this post need to be worked on. I love helping entrepreneurs and their senior management teams figure all this out.
What do you need to do to grow your business to the level you want for it?
Tags: Entrepreneur, markets, operations, people