Some call it the “glass ceiling,” others simply call it a wall. Your business stops growing, yet you can’t pinpoint what’s holding you back. It’s not a lack of sales, poor marketing or any conventional problem. It just seems like you can’t make progress.
What do you do?
Think in Terms of Who, Not What
Instead of looking for what you can do, look for who you can hire. For example, let’s say your digital marketing strategy isn’t working. Instead of looking for online marketing tactics, look for an online marketing director. Look for a human being who can solve your problems.
Breaking through a plateau is often more about bringing on the right person than about figuring out specific actions to take.
Use Metrics to Identify the Bottleneck
The best way to really figure out a bottleneck is to use metrics. Look for relationships between your numbers. What numbers depend on what numbers? What one number could cause the rest of your numbers to lag behind?
The Three Places to Look
If you’re still stuck, look in one of these three places:
- Are you acquiring enough new customers? If not, explore new advertising and biz dev avenues.
- Are you making enough per customer order? If your average customer value is less than your competitors’, you’re at a huge competitive disadvantage. Learn what they’re doing to extract maximum value from their customers and do the same.
- Look for ways to get customers to order more frequently.
Look Outside of Your Industry
Just looking for answers within your industry or within your company can cause a kind of tunnel vision. Oftentimes the solution can be found far, far outside your industry.
Some of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs often read books from a vast array of different fields. Biology, fiction, biographies, war history and so on. By connecting ideas from a completely different world to your industry, you can find creative solutions that nobody else is doing.
Getting the Right Advice
Sometimes the best way out of a tough situation is to get advice. Who can you turn to when you have questions?
- Other entrepreneurs or CEOs in your field. This is perhaps the best avenue. That said, many startups don’t have the contacts necessary to make this work.
- Suppliers. Let’s say you run a shoe store. Chances are, your shoe suppliers know quite a bit about what makes a shoe store successful. They’ve dealt with hundreds of stores in the past. So, talk to your suppliers and see if they can offer any advice.
- Your customers. Your customers can often point out things that you just can’t see because you’re too close to the problem. Call up customers by phone and ask make a real connection. They’re often more than happy to help.