The Hidden Factors That Prevent Your Business From Scaling
I was talking recently to an entrepreneur who said he was ready to scale his business. You could feel his desire to really make a big impact when he talked. He had great mentors, a nearly fail-safe strategy, and all the resources he needs and then some. But he wasn’t crossing the finish line. In many ways, he wasn’t crossing the start line, and as we worked together to make the path easier and easier for him, he seemed to get more and more stuck.
I see this quite often, and I’ve learned to look for the hidden factors that are stalling progress, because the surface reasons are almost never what’s really going on. No business ever failed to grow because the founder “Didn’t have enough time” or “Couldn’t find good people.”
If you ask an entrepreneur if they want to grow their business, most say yes. And yet so few do what it takes to scale, even when they have the solid strategy, capabilities, and resources they need.
Your Business Wants To Grow
You don’t have to push up on your business to grow it. It’s pushing up, all on its own, against the ceiling you’ve built for it like a sapling trying to break through the soil. There are three main hidden factors preventing the growth that your business would otherwise naturally experience. Some are more hidden than others, so see if you can really dig and find these factors in you.
First Factor – Deal With The Moral Dilemma
In order to scale, you must believe that every qualified person in the world needs your product or service. How would you feel if you woke up tomorrow and a million people bought your product or service? After you stop counting the money (and mentally spending it) start to really think about it. If you’re honest, there’s a part of you that might be terrified of this possibility. It is also common to feel embarrassed or even ashamed when considering this possibility. Perhaps the most common hidden factor that arrests growth is a secret disbelief in your offering.
Action Step: If you can’t answer that question with a resounding “yes”, start building the bridge from both shores. Meaning, do the work of believing more in your self, your work, and your work product – and also go to work changing and improving the product until you believe in them fully.
If you don’t take this action step, every sales conversation and every marketing piece presents a moral dilemma and a challenge to your integrity. Therefore, your level of success will be exactly the same as your level of comfort with being out of integrity.
Second Factor – Drop The Nut
Scientists observed fascinating behavior in certain monkeys. The monkeys would reach into a little hole in the side of a tree and grab a large nut inside the tree – too large to fit through the hole. The monkey was excited to find the nut – and wouldn’t let it go, essentially trapping the monkey by its own hand. Even when a predator would show up – the monkey more frantically tried to remove his hand, but would not drop the nut, even under threat of death.
Scaling a business is all about making trade offs. In fact, the larger you want to grow, the more severe the trade-offs must be. Some common trade-offs are:
Pick a narrow niche (good) and potentially lose non-niche customers (bad)
Invest in one brand (good) and let go of all the other product and personal brands (bad)
Choose a channel sales strategy (good) and lose direct control of customer relationships (bad)
Choose to compete on quality, not price (good) and lose customers who demand discounts (bad)
Choose to serve a premium market (good) and incur a much higher cost to deliver your products or services (bad)
It’s so common for companies to announce these kinds of decisions, but then fail to plan for or even allow for the consequences. I’ve frequently seen different vice presidents at the same company charged with trying to win both sides of the trade-off. To me, that’s just crazy. Surprisingly, it’s just as common for solo entrepreneurs to do the same thing. To grow your business, you have to make trade-offs, and you have to make sure that you spend your time and money in accordance with those trade-offs. Really give up on the (bad) side of the trade-off. If you don’t give that part up, you’ll be eaten by a predator with your hand stuck in a tree. Drop the nut!
Third Factor – I’ll Be Too Busy
I’ve created a number of 7-figure businesses (Millions in Revenue) both alone and with partners, and I’ve recently uncovered a hidden resistance that I’ve had to scaling to the 8-figure level (10s of Millions in Revenue). When I imagine being at the helm of a 10, 20, or 30 million dollar business, I imagine having to give up on important lifestyle choices that I’ve made.
I can take 4 to 5 days per week off work multiple times per month. I can take the month of December off. I can travel wherever I want, whenever I want for at least 6 weeks at a time, providing I can check in via the internet every week or two. Jennifer and I can “crawl in a hole” for days at a time with no financial consequence whenever we want prolonged periods of intimacy or isolation. I have the time and money I need to pursue my musical projects and explore hobbies like kite surfing. I can spend each evening and any weekend with my son, and I have plenty of energy to engage with him and play with him. These lifestyle choices are really important to me and in the past I imagined that growing my business by 10x would mean kissing all of it goodbye. No wonder my coaching practice stayed flat at $1 million per year for over a decade!
The Grass Is Always Browner
Recently, though I’ve noticed a shocking pattern. I’ve met a host of people with 6-Figure businesses that have resistance to growing their business by 10x for the same exact reason. They are afraid of losing freedom of choice. In fact, they are afraid of losing freedom that I experience more of then they do. I’ve also met a host of people with 8-figure businesses. Guess what? They experience more freedom to make lifestyle choices than I do.
But it doesn’t stop there. Jennifer and I were just in NY with some people who have created $100 Million businesses. And they experience the same freedom of lifestyle. That shocked me. This pattern goes all the way up to Richard Branson, who has plenty of time for family, love, exercise, philanthropy, hobbies, parties, travel, fun, and everything a person could want – even as he commands an 11-figure brand with over 300 companies.
It turns out, creating the lifestyle you want is a skill all in itself. Some people master it, and most don’t. It has nothing to do with the scale of the businesses they create and manage. If you want to protect your lifestyle, notice whether you are protecting a lifestyle you have or a lifestyle you’d like to have.
Action Step: If you are afraid of losing a lifestyle you actually have. Don’t be afraid. Be cautious and deliberate and you can continue to scale your business without giving up on your lifestyle. You are an expert and using your resources to create the lifestyle you want, and growing your business will simply give you more resources to do this. Find mentors and friends who have done it. They may be hard to find, but they are out there. Check in with yourself every few months and make sure you are still on track from both a business growth and a lifestyle perspective.
If you’re afraid of losing a lifestyle you’d like to have, then stop and think about that for a moment. You are sacrificing success for fear of losing something you don’t have. And then start to look at your ability to make choices that benefit yourself. Struggle and hard work are not necessary ingredients of success. They are totally elective practices.
You Were Born To Play A Bigger Game
This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of all the roadblocks you might experience on the way to becoming the next Richard Branson, but I do hope it’s given you a window into factors that may be playing a key role in your ability to grow your business and make the biggest impact you can on the planet.
I believe in you and the work you do. I want it to reach the widest audience possible, and I want you to do the work that you need to do to make sure that the promises you make in your offers and the quality of the results you produce meet your highest standards of integrity.
If a light bulb went off for you when reading this article, send it to the entrepreneurs you admire most. Tweet about it and share it on facebook. And as always, ask any question you want in the comment section below.