Entrepreneurs regularly focus on the bottom line, which makes sense, but sometimes you should take a step back and examine the overall state of your business.
A significant part of that process should include taking the time to understand what is limiting the growth of your company. And because there are different constraints at various points in time, this is an exercise best done at regular intervals.
Every business has a constraint. It could be analytics, operations, marketing, sales or any one of multiple drivers that are slowing you down. And sometimes in the day to day grind of running our business, we lose sight of working on this restraint. We get stuck in our habits and accept our day to day grind as the norm.
Unless you understand your constraints and develop a strategy to handle them, you will always be a slave to it.
When I started my business, everything was a constraint. And over time we built processes and systems, the challenge became to find quality customers that we could help.
And then I became a popular speaker. I’ve had great success marketing my business by speaking to small CEO groups of 10 to 12 business owners around the country — probably 90 percent of my speaking appearances.
It worked: I’ve been able to develop my business and increase my name recognition around the United States.
But I confess that I got lazy. I accepted it as a norm that I would spend one day in Omaha, the next day in Dallas, and the next day in Los Angeles. I got into a rhythm. The constraint of our company became my complacency.
As I mentioned, things change. While it was okay for me early in my company’s life cycle to slowly build a name, I’m way past that point now. Not that I’m a financial conglomerate or a nationally prominent commentator, but my business is on sound ground, I’ve published a book and have developed at least a little bit of cachet.
Fortunately for me (although I didn’t know it at the time) I had a disagreement with the CEO groups parent company and am no longer speaking before the organization’s groups.
Since then, I’ve realized that I’ve been passing up opportunities to speak to much larger groups, as well as other opportunities to market my company. Not only are these new opportunities, but I’ve been invigorated, too.
A change will do you good.
In college, one of the first things I learned (and one of the few things I still remember) is that most conflicts throughout history are the result of old ideas clashing with new ones – in other words, change. In general, people don’t like change, especially if they’re comfortable with their current situation.
I’m the perfect example. It was comfortable speaking to small groups. In the process, I was passing up more significant opportunities.
Change can be a good thing. People like to talk about the good old days, but were they that good? For example, cars from the 1950s and 1960s are always fondly remembered, but anyone who drove them can attest to their poor handling, terrible gas mileage, frequent rusting and suspect durability.
You certainly don’t want to run your business like it’s still the 1950s or 1960s (or the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s or 2000s for that matter). That’s why you always need to be looking ahead – and to do that you have to figure out the constraints that keep you from reaching the next level.
Remember that it never hurts to be bold and look to get better. So what is your constraint and what is your plan to address it?