Small business growth can often be the most elusive thing for an entrepreneur or small business owner.
If you don't believe me, meet "Margaret" – Entrepreneur and Business Woman par excellence – at least that’s how she refers to herself.
3 years ago, Margaret had a wonderful idea for a business and she was so sure it was going to be successful. So business plan in hand, she was off to the bank to get financing for her equipment rental business.
Just as she projected, 6 months later she was up and running and as far as she was concerned, she was destined for success. After all, she had invested in the latest equipment, hired the best staff, outfitted them in top-of-the-line uniforms and launched the business with a lavish reception.
At first, as Margaret anticipated the business grew. She was so excited, she hardly noticed how hard she was working and how little she was sleeping.
Before you know it, she was ready to scale this business all the way up to the big time! So she bought more equipment, aggressively went after new markets and brought 2 new partners on board.
And then it all came to a screeching halt.
Her small business growth slowed considerably. She wasn’t getting any of the big contracts she was going after and quite frankly…she was struggling. And if that was not enough, her once highly effective team was at each other throats, she did not feel in control of the business or herself and she was losing money fast. Lots of it.
Margaret was at her wits end. How did she end up struggling like so many other small businesses around the world? Why did she feel in her gut that she needed some new business solutions? After all, she had done everything right. Or had she?
The #1 barrier to small business growth
The problem is, what Margaret is experiencing, is the #1 barrier to small business growth.
I know, your BIG question is "What is the #1 barrier to small business growth?"
I won't even keep you waiting for the answer. The #1 barrier that prevents your business from growing is quite SIMPLY The lack of professional growth and development of the OWNERS.
Yes. That's it. And chances are, you are just as guilty of this as Margaret.
You see, a small business will grow, or struggle, at the same rate that the owner grows or struggles, as a leader.
In other words, if you want to grow your business into a $10 million business, you have to develop yourself into a person who can lead a $10 million business. Pure and simple.
How to fix the #1 barrier to small business growth
I know you’re anxious to find out if there's anything that what could be done to address this problem. And of course there is.
The overall thing is to understand that you have to start working "on" your business as much as you work "in" your business.
Working on your business usually requires you to work on developing yourself, so you can lead it towards the growth that you have determined you want for it.
So here is your Starter Pack of 7 key strategies to help you achieve your professional goals in a clear and focused manner.
As starter packs go, you will find that this one is just right for you. It contains strategies that you will find practical and easy to implement even while you are still managing the daily nuts and bolts of your business.
If you're ready, here they are...
1. Make the decision to tackle your own professional development
I can hear you now. "Chewpse! why this Lorna Barrow always thinks she must state the obvious?!"
Because if I don't state the obvious sometimes, you would miss the obvious a lot of the time.
I also know that when you consciously decide to do something, you are more committed to seeing it through. This is not usually the case when you just think it's a good idea.
So make the decision, create the space in your life and move on to #2...
2. List the critical things you need to learn first
In other words, identify those things that if you were to master, would result in your fastest growth in the shortest time. For example, it might be leadership skills, how to communicate effectively, how to outsource or perhaps how to receive feedback and ideas from your team.
You know what I'm going to tell you right now.
Get out your good old-fashioned pen and paper and in an honest fashion, write down what you need to learn as a matter of priority. Then decide what is the best way you for you to get the knowledge...and take action.
3. Commit to continuously developing yourself
I really mean that. Your professional and personal development cannot be a "fix and forget thing".
Yet, Small Business Owners are forever telling me that they don't have time for this, or time to do that...And I do hear what you're saying.
But I also know that people make the time for the things that are important to them, so you're not fooling me.
Look, you currently have a variety of options for your self-development, many of them online and in your own time. Also, you should think of the money you spend on your self-development as an investment, not an expenditure.
Come on, don't be among those who accept committing to their professional development as one of their weaknesses. That's not good for you or your business.
4. Surround yourself with mentors, advisors and coaches
I have not met, heard about or read about a successful business person who did not have a mentor at some point in their lives.
I should know, because I started out, profoundly sure, that I was going to educate myself about everything business and start my own business when I was ready. But that didn’t work.
I could not see my own blind spots and it took my mentor (when I finally got one) to point out that that was my biggest blind spot.
Here's a complete post which I wrote on how to get the best value from a business mentor. It will be super helpful for you as you build out your network.
5. Learn to communicate effectively
Are you tired of hearing me say that you must learn to communicate effectively?
Well, you should't be, because I'm not tired of saying it.
I can't say it often enough...Your written and oral communication are important keys to your personal and business success. Listen to me, if your staff were as honest with you as they are with me, you would have a better idea how poor your communication skills really are.
Here's something else you need to know.
The communication skill that will help you succeed the fastest is Public Speaking! But don't take my word for it, Warren Buffet will tell you that the only diploma or certificate he has on his wall is his certificate from a Dale Carnegie course.
So why not you? As a matter of fact, I hope you have it high on your list of critical things to learn first.
And one last thing, just because you have a measure of confidence that allows you to stand up and speak before a group does not mean you have public speaking skills. So many of you tell me that you have no real fear of speaking in public but when I hear you, me and your audience wish you did.
So hurry up and develop your communication skills, you and your small business growth are depending on it...
6. Hone your leadership skills and grow your business
As "must have" business growth skills go, right up there with communication skills are your leadership skills.
But not just any "old" leadership skills. You need leadership skills that recognises the unique circumstance of your business and the context in which you are required to lead. This is important because the idea that leadership is leadership is leadership is not a good idea for small businesses.
You need leadership which helps you to analyse and understand your business within the marketplace, create a performance culture in your business and rapidly scale that business.
7. Make sure your negotiation skills are razor-sharp
When you hear the term "Negotiation Skills" what comes to mind?
I am willing to bet that it is a heated discussions with a client or union rep, in which your power comes from crushing your opponent and winning every argument. And I supposed that my instruction to make sure your negotiation skills are razor-sharp enhances that picture even more. Yeah?
No...no...no. Being a skilled negotiator is a high-value skill that when highly developed, will help you to get what you want without overpromising or compromising or devaluing the worth or rights of the person you negotiate with. It will also help you to reduce costs and by extension, increase profit.
In essence whether you're negotiating with the bank, an investor, a supplier or even an employee, your goal is to get the best deal possible for you and your business.
With strong negotiation skills, backed by public speaking and leadership skills, you're sure to reach that goal every time.
Your next "small business growth" step
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said:
The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.
I believe that that might be true for you right now.
Not only have I shown you what is your #1 barrier to your business growth, I have also given you a 7-strategy starter pack, to start you fixing it. Can your mind, so stretched, allow you to go on as you were before? Not if I know you...
If you've read this far, you couldn't help but noticed that each strategy helps you to build the confidence you need to grow with your business. Collectively, they guarantee that you're unstoppable.
What are you waiting for? Begin your journey now.
To your success...