4 Myths Stunting Your Business Growth

 

Growing up I loved watching “I Love Lucy” on tv. I didn’t even mind that it was in black and white … something that today would make me more nostalgic than annoyed.

One of the classic episodes is when Lucy gets the job at the chocolate factory. You know the one I’m talking about, right?

She and Ethel are trying to prove to their husbands that working is easy while housework is hard. At first, it’s hard for her to find a department that she thrives in. Finally in a last-ditch effort to help her find a place, the boss puts her and Ethel in the candy wrapping department. They are informed that if just ONE piece of candy goes unwrapped, they’re out for good.

For a moment, everything is going great. The chocolates come by slowly on the conveyor belt. Lucy and Ethel sigh a deep breath of relief. But that relief doesn’t last long.

Before they know it, the conveyor is going twice as fast. They’re pulling chocolates off the belt as it speeds up. They’re eating them. They’re doing everything they can to not let even one chocolate go by. Finally, the conveyor belt slows down, and the manager walks in. The two ladies frantically hide all the unwrapped chocolates, and in the end, they get a congratulations and rewarded with an even faster conveyor belt.

This is a great illustration for our businesses because often the problems we need to solve are hiding in plain sight, but we’re not looking for them or we’re looking in all the wrong places. Lucy and Ethel’s manager was losing valuable products because the process was broken and the employees were ill-equipped for the job. But she didn’t look beyond the surface to check in with how their task was REALLY going.

Harvard Business Review shared the results from surveys of 106 C-suite executives from 91 companies across the world and found that 85% of them recognized that their organizations were bad at diagnosing problems. What’s worse is that 87% of those same executives knew that one single flaw came at significant cost to their company.

The same thing happens in small businesses all the time. The emphasis on speed and agility can mean they don’t take time to understand the problem at hand, and they end up falling into one of a few common traps. Today we’re going to uncover these myths for you so you can avoid solving the wrong problem in your business.

Myth #1: “My team keeps messing things up, I need to find new employees.”

Many business owners think they’re just one hire away from all of their operational or business problems being completely solved. However, the truth is that even the most qualified and incredible employee can’t overcome a broken process or system.

The answer isn’t to change the people in your roles. The answer is actually to change the process around their role.

What I mean is often employees aren’t given clear expectations for their roles in a company. For example ...

  • They don’t know what decisions they can freely make or what the organization’s criteria for making those decisions are.

  • They don’t know which tasks and projects are priorities for you.

  • They don’t know the process you prefer.

  • And they certainly don’t know how you’re rating their performance.

They operate in the dark, doing the best they can, but never meeting your personal expectations. This leads to conflict and mistakes, and that costs your company in more ways than one. When this happens, the best step is to focus on improving the processes instead of punishing the people involved when errors occur.

Myth #2: “I need a better process for … because my employee won’t use the one we have.”

This is the opposite of myth #1. In essence, you’re trying to solve a people problem with a process, and that’s leads to a whole lot of mess.

Sometimes you can have the best process in place and people won’t follow them. This response can happen for several reasons …

  • They don’t like change.

  • They don’t understand the process (or the tools involved).

  • They think the way they do things is best.

  • The list could go on and on.

When this happens, it’s time to have an honest and firm heart-to-heart with the employee. If they are ready to get on board after that, fantastic! Problem solved. If they aren’t? It might be time to find a new team member.

Any process or change needs complete buy in from your team, or it will ultimately fail. So it’s vitally important to make the best decision you can, tell them what you need, and get everyone working from the same page for success.

Myth #3: We just need a new tool.

Tools can be important parts of your business and its processes, but they won’t save any of those things on their own. In fact, it can be an expensive to buy, learn, and implement a new tool.

The key to a tool being effective in your business is …

  1. It’s the RIGHT tool for the task or project to be done.

  2. It’s used properly.

  3. It’s effectively rolled out in your processes.

If you don’t hit those marks with the tools you choose to use, you’ll find yourself with wasted dollars and hours that you can’t get back.

Myth #4: My top priority problem is (insert long list of problems), and I can’t grow until I solve them all.”

It’s true. You might just have more than one problem in your business. In fact, it’s probably likely. However, you don’t have to solve them all at once, and if you try, you won’t get very far very fast.

Every business has ONE main bottleneck that is limiting their growth, right now. It falls into one of these four categories …

  • Attract -- you need more leads

  • Convert -- you need more sales

  • Deliver -- you need more capacity

  • Collect -- you need more cash flow

Instead of focusing on all of them at once, your business should know your ONE TOP priority and focus on that until the bottleneck is released. Trying to focus on more than that one thing will split your focus and lead to slower growth overall.

You can make the decision to focus on more than one, but if you do, do it consciously and know the trade-off can be steep.

SOLVE THE RIGHT PROBLEM.

Here’s the good news, if you take a hard look at your numbers you can easily find the right problem and take steps to solve it … and when you DO, your growth can accelerate more quickly than you ever expected.

One of our clients is a meal delivery service, and after some looking at their numbers and diving into their business we found that their main bottleneck was “Convert.” They spent the next 90 days focusing solely on solving that one bottleneck.

When I say it was a focus, I don’t simply mean they talked about it endlessly and shared it with their team or board. They purposefully set goals around it and took action to increase their conversions. In just one quarter they increased their profit margins by 13% all because they focused on solving their biggest bottleneck.

And the same process can work for you too.

  1. Identify your ONE top bottleneck.

  2. Use this as a focus for your next quarter.

  3. Make sure all your goals focus on solving this one bottleneck.

  4. Watch your business grow.

Need help identifying your business bottleneck? We personally work with businesses at our workshops to help you define + solve your current business bottleneck.

You can learn more about our upcoming workshops here! We'd love to see you there! 

 
Adrienne Dorison