Every entrepreneur hits the point. The point where growth is slowing, there’s discord or miscommunication amongst the team, and you can’t seem to get a win.
The good news is you’re not alone. This happens to every business owner eventually. The bad news is not every entrepreneur is able to turn their business around when they get there.
As the business owner, you know profit is the fuel that drives your business. So it makes sense that — when you start to slow down — the answer is to double-down on the accelerator. More sales and more money will mean more growth and happier teams, right? Not always.
Here are five surprising things that might be holding back your business, sales, and overall growth.
1. Your Culture
The customer’s experience is important, but so is your team’s experience. What does the day-to-day look like for them right now? Is it a highly tense, toxic-energy environment? Do people feel empowered to try (and sometimes fail) new ways of improving their work? Culture starts at the top, and healthy cultures make healthy businesses.
2. Your Purple Cow
Your Purple Cow, a phrase defined and popularized by Seth Godin’s book of the same title, is the one major thing that sets you apart. Chances are, you’re not the only business that provides your service. If you’re a personal trainer, what sets you apart from all the other personal trainers in your town? That’s your purple cow. Maybe it’s that you send daily encouragement texts to clients or run 5Ks with them… whatever it is, tell people about it.
3. Your Hiring Process
Hiring well is one of the hardest parts of the entrepreneurial journey. If you’re experiencing unexpected turnover, or find yourself getting burned by untrustworthy people time after time, look at your hiring process. Don’t be afraid to interview a candidate as many times as you want, pay them for test/sample projects, and ask for personality test results. When you’ve got the right people in place, you can get back to focusing on growth.
4. Your Infrastructure
With most small or entrepreneur-run businesses, the bad processes are the silent killers. You get used to workarounds and inefficient systems because you’re a team of one and doing everything yourself. But as your business grows, your processes need to grow, too. Creating a new, streamlined approach to work isn’t always fun for the dreamer and visionary entrepreneur, but trust us, the front-end work will save you time, money, and heartache in the long run.
5. Your First Impression
The first impression of your business can often be a lasting impression. What’s someone’s first interaction with your business? Is it a friendly and welcoming front desk greeter? A kind (read: not-pushy) customer service associate? A website that is clean, easy-to-navigate and reflects your brand? If you’re noticing a slow in growth, trace the customer’s experience starting with their first impression. It’s an exercise in humility and empathy.
Bonus: Your Social Media Presence
Your social media accounts are an extension of your first impression. How do they contribute and add value to your customers’ lives? If your Instagram feed looks like a billboard, reconsider your approach.
If your business is starting to stall, resist slamming on the accelerator. Tap the brakes a bit and take a look at the entire picture. When those five areas are operating at their best, the sales should follow.