The Answer is: Plenty.
Attaining steady, sustainable business growth is the Holy Grail for owners. Some owners — even in competitive, mature industries — manage to win the gold. They rack up steady sales gains year after year. Others, in growth fields with a continual rising tide, struggle to get ahead.
Why do some companies cruise down an open road to business growth, while others’ revenue charts look like a roller coaster? Or worse yet, like a lightning bolt hitting earth?
Problems vs. Symptoms
The answer lies in the ability to distinguish symptoms from problems. And then, in digging deep to find and fix the obstacle or obstacles standing in the way of growth.
The problems that impair business growth almost always lie in a company’s business model, strategy, processes, systems, culture, or governance. A study by senior advisors at the global consulting firm Bain & Company concluded that over 90% of the time, company growth is impaired by internal, as opposed to external factors.
If attaining sustainable growth is as easy as finding the obstructions caused by systemic or process problems, why don’t more owners do it? The reason is deceptively simple. Human nature has endowed all of us with blind spots and biases.
Familiarity and close proximity rob us of the objectivity needed to clearly see the problem. Some people possess the prescience to overcome this, but most do not.
In other cases, owners see the problem clear as day, but due to biases fail to grasp the full extent of the matter, or hesitate to take action. The typical case is that of an owner’s relative employed in a critical function, but not doing the job. Most often, it takes an outsider’s view point and objectivity to see both the problem, and its consequences.
Common Obstacles to Business Growth
The most common root cause problems that we see standing in the way of growth are:
- Incomplete, inaccurate accounting and management reporting information, preventing good decision-making.
- Salespeople and reps not well-coached, struggling with time management, and operating without useful data and metrics.
- Company cultures hostile to change and innovation.
- Lack of effective operating governance — and a clear understanding of employee responsibilities, expectations, and goals — and processes for monitoring progress and holding people accountable.
Getting to the core root cause obstructing growth requires a systematic and methodical deep dive. Once the core problem is accurately identified, solutions are often not difficult to implement.
Thus, owners and their advisors need to be mindful of their specific boulders in the road to growth. Until core obstacles are removed, all other efforts to grow will not be fruitful. But remove the obstacles, and it can be an open road.
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