Have you ever wondered why some small businesses take off and grow very rapidly and others stay the same for years and years?
Small business growth takes strategy and strong leadership. Some new business owners achieve a certain level of success, sit back and fail to do what is necessary to grow the business.
9 Things That Hinder Small Business Growth
1. Lack of Vision
All businesses need a written vision statement to help direct their planning and decision-making. If there is no clear vision, a business can waver with no specific direction. A lack of imagination is detrimental to any organization. How can you plan, or have a business strategy without knowing where you want to go?
2. No Strategic Plan
Every organization needs a strategy and should have a strategic plan to map out steps to achieving the strategy. The strategic planning process helps to keep an organization’s vision fresh and moving forward. Strategic plans need to be updated every few years as the market, environment, and focus changes.
3. No Written Goals
Not having SMART Goals, and accountability for achieving those goals, is a sure way to impede the growth of an organization. Goals are what make a strategic plan happen. Not writing goals, and having a structured performance management process to achieve those goals, is an invitation to business failure.
4. No Desire to Grow
Believe it or not some businesses don’t have a desire to grow. With growth comes growing pains and sometimes business owners aren’t comfortable making the necessary changes for growth. Hiring the first employees and dealing with human resource management issues is an example of a growing pain. Other areas of growing pains are delegating and trusting others to do things the way you would do them. Growth requires a commitment from the top of the organization.
5. Not in Tune with Customer Needs
This is where many organizations get stuck. The world is changing at such a fast pace that unless an organization understands customer expectations and puts systems in place to take care of their customers, competitors will do it for them. Ensuring good customer service is critical to long term success. The fact is, customers pay the bills and employee salaries so you’d better find out what they want and give it to them!
6. Failing to Reinvest Back In the Business
When a business is just starting out it is sometimes difficult to reinvest back into the business, but not doing so can affect business growth. Keeping up with changing technology and updating facilities are examples of areas that can consume considerable resources but are important to meeting customer expectations. Clean, updated facilities can have an impact on customer perceptions and customer loyalty.
7. Failing to Delegate
As a small business grows, it becomes more and more important to learn the art of delegation. It is important for business owners to develop employees, delegate and trust others to complete tasks. Small business owners can quickly get overwhelmed with trying to manage every aspect of the business and learning to allow others to help is critical at this stage of growth. Successful small businesses have learned the skill of developing, delegating and letting go of lesser things so they can continue to drive organizational vision.
8. Not Collecting and Believing Data
Collecting, analyzing and making decisions based on data is another critical aspect of small business growth. Confronting “the brutal facts” (as described in Good-to-Great by Jim Collins) is one of the most important aspects of managing a small business. Understanding what the data is telling about the business can lead to changes in practice or improving processes. All organizations should have established critical success factors to help monitor and track performance toward goals.
9. Not Having a Clear Problem-Solving Process
The reality is, every business has problems and as soon as one problem is solved another problem takes its place. That is what management does – solves problems. As small businesses grow, problems are created that need to be solved. As an example, outgrowing office space creates the problem of finding new office space. Finding new office space creates the problem of planning out the layout of the new space. Once a layout of new space is done, planning to move offices needs to be done. Organizations need to have structured processes for planning and problem solving. Having good leadership, coupled with good processes, can result in successful problem-solving.
Lastly, thriving small businesses understand how to remove those things that impede growth and put a lot of focus and energy into strategy, planning, and goal setting.
Patricia Lotich is a business-performance consultant who is passionate about helping small business owners see their vision come to life by creating infrastructures that support business development and growth through strategic customer focus. She writes for The Thriving Small Business, which provides small business performance consulting services.