Many of you know that I started nine years ago with QuickBooks and leading workshops to help business owners understand their financial statements and how to read and use reports. Over the years, my emphasis has shifted to systems—analysis and design; and ultimately, I help organizational teams see how to move forward with a new project or enterprise. I see “behind the scenes” at a lot of companies and my newest favorite question is “WHAT’s HOLDING YOU BACK?” It’s amazing to hear the answers! Here are a few of my personal ones that I work at conquering every month. What are yours?
Which of These Stump Your Business Growth?
As a business owner, you have likely acquired many skills and are wearing many hats in your business. Although admirable, your versatility can often lead to slower growth for your company. This happens when you become the bottleneck. Here are five places to check to make sure you haven’t become the bottleneck in your own business.
1. Micro-managing everything.
It’s definitely good to keep tabs on everything that’s going on in your company, but once your company grows, you may find yourself inundated with information. Instead, try managing by exception.
You don’t really need to know everything that’s going on in your company; you really only need to know when things do not go smoothly, or when there are exceptions. Design a set of management reports that allow you to see these exceptions easily without having to wade through a bunch of information. This will save you time and help you focus where your expertise and skills are needed most.
2. Being involved too much in “production.”
Probably the most common small business mistake is working ‘in’ your business instead of ‘on’ your business. If you’re still generating billable work or working too much in production, it should be work that no one on your staff can do and work that requires a very high skill set. Otherwise, it should be delegated to staff. And if you don’t have staff, then they need to be hired. For a great book helping you work ‘on’ your business, read Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It
3. Not enough marketing.
As a business owner, you are the key person that will be bringing in business, forging partnerships, and creating new opportunities for revenue. If you spend your limited time doing other things, marketing often goes undone. Not marketing enough can dry up the pipeline, cause cash flow problems, and get a company in trouble really fast.
4. Being the only one who knows how to do something.
When employees have to wait on you to show them how to do something, you can easily become the bottleneck in the process. As you train each employee, do it only once by writing procedures for the task as you train. That way, you never have to train anyone on that task again. The newly trained employee can show others, and you can be out of the loop, freed up for more important things.
5. Having to review and approve everything your employees do.
A great employee is one who is empowered to make as many decisions as possible without further layers of supervisions getting involved. Often, a decision can be “cook-booked” so that the decisions can be pushed down the lower layers of management. Take a look to see if any of the decisions that you are making can be documented and pushed down so that you don’t have to get involved. That way, your employees will have the right balance of authority in order to do their jobs.
How did you measure up on these five high-bottleneck areas? When you can clear up the bottlenecks in your business, your firm will be able to grow even faster.