A lot of people talk about how to succeed in business. There are plenty of “gurus” out there who will tell you how to grow you business and be a success. But the good folks at Forbes recently posted something that looks at the other side of the coin. They talked about 5 things that will stop you from growing your business.
You can read their whole article here, but I I’d like to take a quick look at the five things they highlighted that can keep you from scaling up your business and taking it to the next level, and then suggest some things that can get you moving in the right direction.
- You’re not really in touch with your customers
So many businesses are so focused on “doing the business” that they aren’t aware when the market shifts. Blockbuster was so busy opening new video rental stores and expanding their model that they never saw Netflix coming. You need to have a way to keep your finger on the pulse of what your customers really want. Do you have a mechanism to gather and analyze that kind of information?
- You have no real differentiation (no truly unique value proposition)
Every business thinks they are unique. Customers, however, often can’t tell the difference. When you do your yearly and quarterly strategic planning, don’t gloss over your unique value proposition. Spend time developing a skill, product, service, or market niche that makes you truly different. Price is a lousy differentiator. Someone will always be willing to work for less. Focus instead on doing something better, faster, or completely different.
- You’re not communicating your value proposition clearly or compellingly
Even companies that do have a unique value proposition often don’t do a good job of telling others about it. Work hard on describing what makes your company different—and do it in terms that matter to your audience. If your company is truly different, don’t keep describing it the same old way. Here’s a post that offers help on how to do that.
- You have a breakdown in top leadership
Most businesses fail from the top down. You’ve probably heard it said that employees don’t quit businesses—they quit bosses. If you want your business to grow, you have to make sure your leadership (and that includes you!) is growing. You need a plan for the constant development (read that as improvement) of your leadership.
- You don’t have a business model (I prefer strategy) that has proven revenue streams
Cool, fun, and innovative ideas may be more interesting to talk about in your planning meetings (and I’m a big proponent of having a Big Hairy Audacious Goal), but at some point the plans you make have to generate revenues. I understand that when we’re talking about brand new offerings (truly innovative stuff that nobody has done before) it is impossible to point to proven revenue streams. Still, whatever you plan has to make money at some point. Make sure your financial projections are based in reality on not on wishful thinking.
Paying attention to these five things can make the difference between smooth sailing for your growing company—and sinking your business ship.