Episode 63: Lack of growth sucks

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A few tips on how to keep growing. Full transcript below.

Welcome to the Business Numbers Podcast. I’m your host, Ben McAdam. I’m a profits coach, virtual CFO, and entrepreneur, and I’ve created this podcast to help you grow your business profits and understand your business numbers without judgment and without burying you in a whole bunch of jargon that you don’t need. Just actionable tips and case studies to help you grow your business. For show notes, go to the website, businessnumberspodcast.com.

I’m recording this episode before a coaching call with a client, and this topic is partly inspired by this client, but I’ve seen it in a few other clients and a few other businesses. It’s this scenario when the business isn’t growing.

If the business isn’t growing, that sucks. But to get a bit more specific about it: it’s demotivating for us as business owners because we’re putting in a lot of effort and sometimes we’re not drawing out what we want from the business, or the business isn’t currently at a level that we aimed for.

Lack of growth means lack of progress towards our goals, as well as lack of self-development growth. Not just the growth of the business, but growth in our skills, growth in our mindset, growth in the experiences that we’ve been through, things that we’ve surpassed, problems that we’ve surpassed. 

It’s demotivating for us as business owners. It’s also demotivating for our team, for them to be working hard and not seeming to move the needle in a big way. A-players on your team in particular will want progression. If your business isn’t growing, it’s not likely that there will be an opportunity for them to move up as somebody else gets promoted out of a role, or there won’t be new roles created if the business isn’t growing.

And finally, lack of growth sucks because costs will eat up your profit over time. Costs go up over time in most cases, e.g. the team wants pay rises because all their personal costs are going up. And then there might be software that you use or other costs of stock, or any suppliers, or freelancers, or agencies that you use, they’ll raise their prices over time. And so if you are not growing, then your profit will be shrinking over time. 

Anyway, that’s enough of identifying the problem. The point is it’s a big problem, so do something about it.

We sometimes get distracted by all the fires that come up in a business over time, like a team member is sick, or needs a holiday, or quits, something goes wrong with a supplier, or a piece of software suddenly isn’t seeming to work, or a team member screws up and there’s some fallout from that.

There are always fires for us to fight in the business. Then it can be very easy getting distracted trying to deal with all of those, or perfect the business in various little ways, like get all your SOPs all written out and nice and pretty looking, not just written out and usable, but laid out really well, with colored headings, and images, and screenshots, and all that stuff. It’s very easy to get distracted by that and not notice that your business isn’t growing. So it’s important to actually take action. 

So how do you take action on this? Well, you need to get really clear on what the problem i:

  • What’s the thing that’s in the way of your growth?
  • What’s the obstacle that you need to overcome?
  • What’s the limiting factor?
  • What’s the constraint that’s holding back your growth?

If you can’t do this, get external help. It’s one of the things I enjoy doing, unlocking growth for people, because lack of growth sucks and growth is fun. It’s exciting. It comes with its own set of challenges, but a great sense of progress.

Sometimes it can be helpful to get an objective third party who doesn’t really know anything about the business, doesn’t know about what you’ve done in the past or how you’ve done in the past, or the culture of the business, or any of that, just a fresh set of eyes can be helpful.

Or give yourself a fresh set of eyes, take yourself away from the business in some way, even if that’s working from a cafe, or gardens or a forest or something, somewhere out in nature. Instead of being in your office, give yourself time, turn off all notifications, take a journal, scribble in a notebook.

There’s lots of different ways that you can give yourself a fresh perspective by taking yourself out of your usual environment, out of your usual routine. Some people do retreats just for themselves. Team retreats are a thing that we’ve all heard of probably, but just doing retreats on your own, even if you’re married and have children, doing a retreat on your own for a couple of days to really create the space to figure out what’s blocking the growth of the business. Other things you might do on these retreats is to think about your goals and get really clear on what you want and what the next level to aim for in the business could be.

So, going on a retreat is a good way to get a bit of a fresh perspective for yourself so you can get clear on what’s in the way.

Sometimes it’s us as the business owner that’s the thing in the way. It could be that we have a mindset issue in the way, like we think it’s greedy to want more, or perhaps we don’t have enough of a plan, or the plan we have isn’t working, or needs to be updated or rethought from scratch given where the business is at or the competitive landscape is at.

Or maybe there’s a skills gap. Maybe the constraint on the growth is that maybe there’s enough leads coming in, and you can’t take enough sales calls, and you need to hire a salesperson. Or maybe there’s lots of leads coming in and they’re crap leads. Maybe you’re getting plenty of traffic to your website, but they’re not actually converting. And there’s maybe some skills that need to be picked up or hired out that can help you get past this current growth limiting factor. 

So, looking for the negative things, and removing them. Obstacles, issues, challenges, roadblocks, however you wanna say it. One perspective is to look at what’s limiting your growth and then try and move that out of the way.

Another perspective is that maybe there’s nothing negative in the way. Maybe it’s a lack of positive things, or maybe it’s a lack of focus, or focusing on the wrong things.

Sometimes it can be helpful to work backwards and think about what growth requires. Usually when we say growth we mean revenue growth, more revenue coming in than previous months. And sometimes in order to achieve that, we need to increase the amount of time or effort or resources in the marketing and sales areas of our business.

Perhaps, you sell services and you have sales calls, and maybe the limiting factor is the things you’ve been doing to generate leads have been effective, but maybe the volume’s just not enough.

Same thing if you have an eCommerce business. Maybe your website converts well and you just don’t have enough traffic going to it, because you are aiming at a certain amount of traffic that was okay when your business was smaller.

Or maybe a certain number of sales was a great target when your business was smaller and maybe you just haven’t updated that in a while. Business can be very distracting and all consuming and if we don’t take the time to take a break and then look at a high level about what’s going on in the business, we might not notice that things are still working as they had before, but that’s not enough anymore. 

For example, if you want to hit a higher income goal, you might need to be pouring more things at the top of your marketing. Or if you have a service business, say, a digital marketing agency with recurring clients, a natural and acceptable percentage of churn might be you losing five clients a month. And if your sales target was three clients a month, and that’s helped you grow rapidly into the multimillion dollar business you’re up to at the moment, that’s not enough to keep ahead of churn. Or maybe your target was five and your churn is now five, your churn percentage might be really low, but you just haven’t thought about raising that target number of new clients in a while.

Once you’ve got some clarity on what needs to be worked on, whether it’s roadblocks and obstacles to be removed, or whether it’s increasing or adding more positive things. Then after that, monitor your progress and correct course and growth should restart over time.

If you pick the right obstacles to work on, you work on diligently monitoring your progress, changing your approach if it’s not actually working, then growth should restart in fairly short order.  And the suck will stop.

The businesses I’ve worked with, as well as clients that I’ve started working with over the years where there’s no growth, it can be very frustrating, and it’s a wonderful feeling when growth starts moving forward again. Everything becomes exciting. There’s so much potential for the future, you start moving towards your goals in a meaningful way.

And so it’s worth taking a breather once a month or once a quarter. And just seeing whether you’re on track with growth. Adding a certain number of clients or adding a certain number of customers per month may have been a good goal in the past, but maybe it needs to be adjusted up so you can keep on that growth trajectory.

Anyway, growth is a passion topic of mine. I could keep talking for a while, but I think I’ll wrap it up there with just a quick summary:

  • Lack of growth sucks, and 
  • It’s worth taking a breather to notice that fact and put a plan together on how to get growth going again. 

So I hope this was helpful.

Remember, if you have any questions on any of this, you can shoot me your reply to this email if you are reading the transcript via email, or send me a message through social media or through the website, businessnumberspodcast.com.

As always, thank you for listening.

Before you go, two quick things:

  1. If this was useful, please give it a review and share it with a friend who it might help.
  2. If you want help from me to unlock growth and profits, and greater clarity around your numbers, book a call through ProfitsCollective.com and if we’re not a fit I’ll point you in the right direction. 

Thanks again for listening.

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