Most small business owners wear many hats—service provider, marketer, salesperson, accountant, customer service, and for your team – trainer, project manager and coach.

But the more the business depends on you, the more you are limiting it’s potential .. you can’t do it all well.

In fact, only 8% of businesses grow to over $5 million in revenue.. something happens to most firms and they plateau around the $1-2 million mark.

Actually, not just one thing…

There are 7 main roadblocks to achieving your business potential— a lack of systems in 7 key areas.

  • If your firm lacks these 7 systems, it creates a bottleneck that flattens sales, prevents great customer experiences, and reduces profits.
  • Once you get the key elements right, you can grow smoothly and consistently, with a business on “auto-pilot.”

1. Plan

Roadblock - lack of dashboards measurement

Dashboards

Remember Steven Covey’s habit “Begin with the end in mind”?

There are four main plans to guide your activities and decisions to create the business you desire:

Strategic plan: It is crucial to provide a roadmap to guide your major decisions.

Budget: An annual budget is a planning document, report card, and decision tool.

People Plan: This plan outlines your current and future people roles— and forecasts what additions and changes to roles are needed to support sales growth and new business lines.
It also outlines individual’s work with organization goals (see People and Process below).

Owners plan: Owners, just like every team member, should be in a role that maximizes their strengths. Many owners continue to be the CEO- the Center of Everything Officer. This creates a huge roadblock for growing the business as the owner becomes overworked and overwhelmed.
An owner’s plan considers their current and future desired involvement, and outlines a plan to transition responsibilities to key people over time.

2. Sales plan

Most businesses have a reactive approach to sales—they do a bit of advertising or hire a sales person and then respond to the leads that come in.

Often the owner is heavily involved in all or part of this process. It is typical for a busy owner to be slow to respond to inquiries and provide proposals, and leads can be lost quickly without a tracking system.

There are several roadblocks in such an informal process.

Not only are you losing new sales that you already proposed, but you are also not pursuing qualified ideal prospects to have a consistent flow of new sales opportunities. A third sales area often overlooked is repeat business from current or prior customers—most organizations don’t have a solid process to keep in touch and offer additional services.

If you want to find, attract and cultivate leads into new and repeat customers, the solution is to have a consistent optimized sales process plan that is semi-automated.

3. Process

Process Plan

Define your process

We all have our own way of doing things.

While that is just fine in our personal lives, a business needs to ensure consistency and quality of the product and service we deliver to our customer.

This roadblock is the lack of three little letters: SOP—Standard Operating Procedures. 

Maybe you consider this super-boring, but this is the foundation of growing and scaling your business with few fires and chaos, not more. If you throw gasoline (more sales) on a fire (inconsistent work) you have an explosion.

If you want to grow smoothly, you need SOP’s.

SOP: Two key elements to a streamlined and consistent process are 1) to identify key tasks and results in standard operating procedures – SOP, 2) continually refine those SOP and implement projects to improve your process and delight your customer.

Employee involvement: To best way to process improvement ideas is to actively involve your employees in the process—they are closest to the customer and are more likely to see ways to do things faster, better, and cheaper.

Business success is about delivering an exceptional customer experience– and systems allow you to do this easily as you grow.

4. Rhythm

Your standard operating procedures are enhanced further by creating job responsibility profiles with key performance indicators (KPI) for each employee.

When everyone is clear about their responsibility, how it supports business goals, and how they will be measured, they perform better and are more engaged with their work.

One optimal practice is to create a firm-wide dashboard of key metrics, and then “cascade” the goals and metrics to the specific people responsible. These “report cards” show when company and individual results are on target, allow for quick adjustment in  areas that need attention, and  ensure focus on the main items to achieve this year’s goals.

5. People

Fabulous Team A Players

Fabulous Team A Players

Even with perfectly optimized systems and all the pretty dashboards with your key metrics, you won’t grow with a fabulous team of People, who work together to achieve business goals.

A Players: There is a simple measure to know if you have this—do you have 100% “A-players” in every role?

Virtual bench: When you have qualified candidates on a “virtual bench” (ready to hire as business grows), this allows you to plug in the team you need when you need it, rather than overwhelming your staff and disappointing customers as you reactively scramble to find more teammates.

6. Personal

Personal work life balance ikigai

What is your ikigai?

As the owner, you are both the key to your success AND your biggest roadblock.
If you want your business to run without your daily involvement, you need to:

  1. Build a trusted management team to optimize the business
  2. Delegate to handle the daily operations (no meddling)
  3. Hold them accountable via the goals and dashboards tied to strategy
  4. Focus your efforts on your genius—what you love to do, what provides the greatest long term value for the business

7. Profits

A lack of profits is a huge roadblock to your business success. Low cash flow causes you to make decisions out of scarcity— cheaper labor, old broken equipment, taking on low margin jobs,  not investing in process improvement, and working yourself harder.

When you have the Right Plan, Process and People, the Profits start flowing (I call this the 5 P’s model).

This upward spiral of success finally provides you the security, freedom and funds to step out of the daily “running” of the business, and let you focus on your ideal role and ideal week (and ideal life). 

Discover Which Roadblocks are Limiting Your Small Business

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Blog Author Diana Southall

Article by Diana Southall

About the author: Diana Southall is the creator of the People Plan. She helps owners who want to grow their small business but are too personally involved, and who want to learn how to “run a business” and build a trusted team to handle the day to day.