There are some common roadblocks that get in the way of small business growth. Most small business owners will tell you that the thing that keeps them from growing is lack of time. However, I will tell you that lack of time is a poor reason for not succeeding in business. When someone tells me they don't have time for certain tasks I'm not impressed; I'm astonished. I'm astounded that they don't make adequate time to work on growing their business. Here are four common roadblocks to small business growth and how to conquer them.
Lack of Process
A repeatable process is the key to scaling a business. Many small business owners think that they have the right processes in place. The problem is their processes are all in their head instead of on paper. Your business processes need to be so detailed out that anybody could step in and handle any aspect of your business. Design your business so that if you disappeared off the face of the planet tomorrow your business wouldn't skip a beat. Detailing out your business processes is not fun, but it is a required step if you want to grow your business.
Conquering the process hurdle: Decide if you are more visual or data driven. If you are a visual person you may want to detail out your tasks in a bubble chart. If you just need plain black and white with some bullet lists then Microsoft Word should be just fine. Start by listing out all of the different major aspects of your business. Some examples of processes including: finding new customers, hiring and training employees etc. Think about how many steps go into each of these. There are a ton of steps and you need to be meticulous about the details. As you list out the details of your process it will help you identify weaknesses. Your detailed business processes will be the foundation of your business growth.
Caught in Operations
Many small business owners are too busy with the day to day operations, which inhibits their business growth. Our sales manager Joe Mazur has a great elevator pitch he uses at networking meetings. When Joe pitches our services he says: "I help people get out of their own way in the business." This usually results in some head nodding from certain people and eventually conversations. There is a lot of truth to what Joe is saying; some people are their own worst enemy in their business. They are so caught up in the day to day that they end up micromanaging every aspect of the business and never really get anything done.
Conquering involvement in operations: The first thing you have to realize is that in order to grow there is absolutely no way you can do everything. You need to learn to delegate (we will talk about this later). Stepping out of the operations starts with the realization that this is a necessary step if you want to grow. Start by accepting the need to remove yourself from the day to day tasks and focus on big picture tasks.
Working on the Business is Tough
Sitting down and actually working on your business is really tough work, not only due to the time aspect but also the amount of critical thinking it takes. Lack of time only becomes a factor because people let it. When you sit down to work on your business processes, vision and mission statement, or your growth plan you let things distract you like your phone and email. Instead of concentrating you let things get in the way and before you know it half the day is over. Sound familiar? Additionally working on growing your business is tough work from a thinking perspective. It takes a lot of deep thinking about yourself and your business and that is not an easy thing to take on. Many people are not comfortable with thinking in such detail about sensitive and intimate details about themselves and their business.
Conquering the tough aspect: First, in order to deal with the time aspect you need to make the time. Set aside a 2-3 hour block maybe twice a week at optimal times for you. This may fall out of normal business days and times. When you do sit down to work on your business you need to turn off all distractions like your email and phone. Then you need to work on whatever aspect of your business you feel is necessary and put it on paper. Writing things down on paper will help you identify areas that you need to work on further. It will also solidify those ideas by taking them out of your head and putting them in writing.
Inability to Delegate
The inability to delegate tasks is a problem for a lot of small business owners. It can be tough as a one man show to take on employees and then give away some of your tasks. Some owners get accustomed to doing everything themselves and when they do hire employees they find it hard to let go of certain day to day tasks. A very common mentality I see owners take is that it is faster to do it themselves than to show someone how to do it properly. The problem with this mentality is that is a dead end road and it does not end with your business growing. That mentality will quickly get you to maximum capacity and growth will plateau.
Another common reason for not being able to delegate is due to a lack of confidence in the staff you are giving tasks to. Delegating takes an enormous amount of trust in your staff that the task will be done as if you were handling it yourself, if not better. If you don't have faith in your staff then that is your fault as a business owner. That comes back to your hiring and training process.
Conquering delegation: The ability to delegate starts with a basic understanding that it is necessary in order for you to grow the business. You need to track your time carefully to make sure you are working on growth oriented tasks, not day to day tasks. Refine your hiring and training process so that you surround yourself with people that you have confidence in.
There are lots of roadblocks that stand in the way of business growth. A lack of time should not be on your list of things that are keeping your business from growing. You can tell people that you are unable to make time to grow your business and then you should realize that you have a problem. It takes careful planning to grow your business and it comes down to a process that you are able to repeat efficiently and perfectly. Getting to a repeatable process takes time, planning and hard work.
What roadblocks have you faced when growing your business and how did you overcome them?