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Overcoming Obstacles to Business Growth

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Over the years, our True Reckoning team has been fortunate to have worked with several client companies from around the world.  While each of these companies are unique and serve disparate markets with varied product portfolios, we’ve found many of these businesses suffer from common obstacles that challenge their overall business growth. Strangely enough, we see similar problems over and over again.  Running a business isn’t rocket science, but having the discipline to focus on what really matters is elusive to many young companies as they try to juggle the realities of operating a company day-to-day while also plotting a course for growth.  Below we’ve summarized some of the obstacles we see more frequently and we’ve offered a few questions to help you consider how you might overcome them.

 

Lack of a Plan

Lack of a plan is often a fundamental problem for many smaller companies. The arguments for planning are many and irrefutable and yet this is a very common failing for many companies except those that are enjoying very rapid growth.

In our experience there are three very fundamental reasons for implementing a planning process:

  1. If your plan sets out certain objectives you are much more likely to achieve – or exceed – them than if you just keep barreling along. Research has often shown this to be true and it stands to reason that having a plan will enable you to often think through and implement the steps necessary to achieve that plan;
  2. Most companies spend so much time dealing with the “trees in front of them” that it is difficult for them to recognize the steps necessary to achieve their long-term objectives. A plan disciplines you to look “beyond the trees” from time to time and assess the overall shape of the forest; and
  3. A plan can often alert you to inconsistencies that need to be managed e.g. a lack of capital or other resources necessary to fund your projected growth. Once recognized you are in a position to better manage the limiting factors.

Without a plan there can be no destination, there is therefore no road map to follow, there is no focus and so any path will do. We are not advocates of planning for the sake of planning, but as a minimum planning at least provides for a plan from which to deviate.  Deciding where you want to lead your company and course correct along the way if needed.  What have you learned from your planning experience?

Market Positioning

When we first begin interacting with new clients, we find many don’t really know how to establish their market positioning and brand their company accordingly.  They have yet to establish clear value in their offering and why a potential customer will choose their offering over the competition’s.

  • Is there a “Compelling Reason To Buy” (CTRB) your product or service?
  • Does your product or service offer a 5x-10x advantage over the incumbent offering or over doing nothing at all?

Understanding what makes your product or service unique and what you need to focus on in order to continuously protect that uniqueness are keys to maintaining a strong market position.

Market Size & Share

How big is your market?  What share do you have?  Some clients we’ve worked with were quite happy with the strength of their business as they’d been experiencing revenue growth for the last several quarters.  However, after realizing the market growth was outpacing their revenue growth and in fact the company was loosing market share, concern set in and rightfully so.

  • What market share-directed strategies do you have in place today?
  • Do you have market size-directed strategies?
  • Will your corporate growth objectives outpaces the size of the markets you serve today?

Understanding the size of the markets your serve and the share you have today, plan to have next year and for years thereafter are key to your overall business success.

Sense of Urgency – Failing to Act Now

In today’s business environment, if you don’t move fast, you get run over. Without a sense of urgency, people and businesses just can’t move fast enough. Speed is the driver because customers have a zero tolerance for waiting, and there are always competitors gaining on you.

John P. Kotter in his book, “A Sense of Urgency,” delves into the how-to required of entrepreneurs on that first step, avoiding pitfalls along the way. He is convinced that increasing the sense of urgency is the toughest of the steps necessary for effective change.

Urgency is not frantic activity born of excess energy, anger, or frustration. These do result in high activity levels, but results will be slow in coming and often misdirected.

One of the main obstacles to a sense of urgency is complacency, which often sets in after a success. When the company and its employees are riding high on a wave of profits, complacency can creep in unnoticed. It’s easy to hand out rewards and praises without looking down the road and outside the box. Eventually a competitor comes along to trample you into the dust.

Another frequent obstacle is the false sense of urgency. The enemy of urgency is a full appointment calendar, when everything becomes urgent. Here you need flexibility, smarts, and guts to re-prioritize less important tasks, or purge them altogether.

Decide what’s important and do it now.

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