3 reasons your business isn’t growing

It’s been well said that there are only two reasons why a business fails: it’s because it lacks either cash or talent.

Others are better qualified than we are to talk about the lack of cash aspect, but we see some common themes on the ‘talent’ side that we thought we’d share with you.

Poor understanding of leadership
Sometimes lack of growth is due to ‘unconscious incompetence’ at leadership level. Some managers, especially in smaller companies, haven’t had much investment in their leadership development so they simply don’t know what the core leadership competencies are, or why they’re so vital to success.

This often results in leaders who try to do everything themselves. All this does is place a drag on the business. Direct reports don’t step up to the plate – there’s little point; the leader will do things their way. Decision making slows down and doesn’t benefit from the input of a variety of people. The urgent takes precedence over the truly important and the business never gets out of the bit.

Failure to adapt to scale
We see many companies who reach the 20-30 people mark and then growth stalls. There are multiple reasons for this, including a failure to invest in simple systems and processes, but often there’s a founder-leader in the mix who is still behaving in the same way as he or she did when the whole company was comprised of 6 chums in a shared office space. It doesn’t work.

Very quickly in the company growth cycle, there comes a time when the leader has to realise that their ‘product’ is not their product – their ‘product’ is the company. Only when that penny drops will the leader be able to shift their thinking up a gear and focus on the key things that are going to drive growth.

Thinking there’s only one way to run the business
Sometimes we get called into a business at a point in the leader’s life when they are beginning to think about their exit strategy. They’ve worked hard over many years and built a successful organisation. Sometimes they’ve even hired a ‘replacement’ who hasn’t worked out. Now they’re feeling trapped.

There are options: it can be very helpful to get a third party in to look at these objectively. However, sometimes all it takes is to point out that there is more than one way to run things. A replacement may lack the same depth of technical expertise – but they may be able to make decisions that are every bit as good on the basis of their ability to use technology. They may take the business in a completely new direction. Okay … it’s different, but it’s their turn in the hot seat now! A fresh and objective view can help a company hugely. The new incumbent may make changes that the exiting leader has put off – for years. In fact, one of the most useful questions we ask clients is “what would your replacement do”.

We see these scenarios a lot, so if you recognise any of them in your own business and you’d like our help to move the dial, get in touch. That’s it: sales pitch over!