If you’re frustrated with how slowly your business is growing, this huge post is just for you. I’m going to share 10 extremely common things that crush the growth of a business, along with how to stop them from happening to you.
Let’s get started.
You stopped growing
Your business is a reflection of the decisions you make and your decisions are based on what you know. So, for your business to grow, you need to grow. After all, you can’t give your business the benefit of knowledge, which you don’t have.
Read the books. Study those who’ve achieved what you want to achieve. Seek expert advice. Grow. Then watch your business grow too.
You’re selling based on low prices or low fees
This only works if you’re the lowest priced alternative, and you’re not. Your prospective clients can go to Google and find a lower priced alternative in seconds. Only one provider can be the lowest priced and it changes daily, sometimes hourly, as desperate business owners price-drop in an effort to attract sales.
It takes a huge amount of planning and a watertight strategy, to sell based on being lowest priced and still make a worthwhile profit. Some big brands manage to succeed on wafer thin margins, but it’s a very precarious approach.
Usually, small businesses only market based on being low priced, because it’s easy to lower prices or fees. It takes very little effort and zero creativity, to simply undercut your competitors. We call this the race to the bottom. It’s a race you don’t want to win, as you end up working for peanuts and attracting the lowest value clients.
Clients you attract through low fees are the easiest to attract and the easiest to lose, when a competitor decides to undercut you.
Instead of selling based on being the lowest priced, look for opportunities to add more value to what you do. Not only will this make your business more profitable, it will allow you to compete for better clients… those who value you and what you do.
You’re starving your business of the marketing it needs
No matter how great your business is, unless you market it correctly, no one will know. Sadly, it’s a fact that an average business that’s marketed correctly, will always outperform a wonderful business that has ineffective marketing. This is why some lousy businesses make a fortune, whilst some great little businesses struggle.
By starving your business of professional marketing, by default, you’re relying on amateur marketing. This makes no sense, as it is both more expensive, and vastly less effective, than getting expert help.
In a nutshell: If you want great marketing results, invest in great marketing.
Your branding sucks
Yes, if people knew how great you were, they’d hire you. But when they connect with you for the first time, all they have to form their decision on, is what they see. That’s why your image matters so much.
Here’s a question for you to ponder: How do you look, when a prospective client encounters your business branding / image for the first time?
Most small business owners operate behind naff logos, poorly designed websites and amateur looking social networking accounts. If you want prospective clients to consider you a professional, you need to look the part. No matter what promises you make, what testimonials you offer or what guarantees you provide, no one will take any notice, if your image looks like a DIY project.
So, at least invest in a professional logo for your business and some decent photography for your social networking accounts. An amateur (or dated) logo and photograph dents your credibility and will lose you a fortune. The same is true of an unprofessional looking or dated website.
Give your business the impact it deserves. And attract the clients your business deserves.
You’ve camouflaged yourself
This is one of the most common mistakes made by small business owners. Very, very few small businesses stand out. Perhaps 1 in every 10,000. Instead, they opt for the fake safety of being just like their competitors.
This is why we find that when we look at the providers in any industry, they seem so similar. You could swap them around and no one would notice.
They offer a similar range of services. They make similar promises. They charge similar fees. In effect, they become invisible. Almost impossible to tell apart. They have camouflaged themselves within the masses.
If you want to stand out, do something outstanding. Something remarkable. Something uniquely valuable. Find a new service, which your competitors don’t provide. Develop a new pricing model.
Just don’t be like all the others, if you want to get noticed.
You’re associating with the wrong people
There’s a direct link between how we think, and the people we habitually associate with.
- If we associate with people who inspire us, we feel inspired.
- If we associate with people who encourage us and motivate us to stretch, we grow.
That’s why it pays to be selective regarding the people we associate with. For example, when we associate with people who are doing better than we are, the natural inclination is for us to rise to their level. Of course, the opposite is also true. When we associate with people who are doing as well as us, or less well, we find ourselves spinning our wheels.
As Jim Rohn used to say about potential: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”.
So, choose wisely. Associate with people who will inspire you to be better. People who will encourage you and motivate you to be the best you can be.
You’re networking with the wrong people
In business, it’s extremely important to build great connections with influential people. This is the exact opposite of what the typical small business owner does. They go for numbers instead and look in the worst possible places.
Think about it: We’ve all met business owners who struggle to find new clients, even though they’re members of a networking group and have hundreds, maybe thousands of Linkedin contacts.
That should be impossible.
Surely, with so many contacts, these struggling business owners would be able to reach out with a message and quickly attract more client enquiries than they need. However, this never happens. Why? Because they are connected to business owners who lack the influence and contacts, to be able to make a difference!
The most successful business owners use the exact opposite approach. I recommend you do the same. It looks like this: They deliberately target the most influential people in their marketplace and put a strategy together, to connect with them. They do this months before they ask anything from them.
And no, you will not find the most influential people in networking clubs, asking struggling business owners for introductions. You’ll have to do a little research. But that’s fine. You’re aiming for quality, not numbers.
You’ve become comfortable
Small business owners usually start off with great plans, but somewhere along the way they settle. Instead of focusing on building their business, so it provides them with the rewards they want, they switch.
They switch to lowering their lifestyle expectations, so it meets the limitations of their under performing business.
It’s up to you to switch things back the way they should be! This means leaving your comfort zone, setting exciting goals and then making the commitment to take the action required.
You’re getting too few referrals
Business owners who get too few referrals have to quickly figure out why their clients and associates are not referring them. This is a tough challenge to face. It means accepting there’s a serious problem and then being willing to fix things.
Yes, it’s serious, extremely serious, if you get too few referrals.
Not only are you missing out on a regular supply of valuable leads, your clients and associates, for whatever reason, do not want to recommend you. And there’s always a reason.
A customer survey may help you find out why. However, honest conversations with those whose opinions you trust are often extremely useful too.
Just as importantly, when you get the feedback you need, make sure you do something with it. It’s hard sometimes to accept you have areas of your business, which you need to improve. I’ve seen business owners ignore really valuable feedback, believing they’re already offering an amazing service.
Don’t make that mistake. Listen to what the feedback is telling you. Then take appropriate action.
You’re not failing often enough
Many small business owners let their fear of failure stop them from putting their ideas into action. The challenge with that mindset, is that without trying fresh ideas, you stagnate by default.
When a business is new it’s easy to risk everything. After all, unless you start out with a ton of money behind you, (like Sir Richard Branson and Seth Godin), you have nothing to lose.
However, once your business is established the penalty for failing seems bigger.
- Business owners tend to over estimate the price of failure. They imagine all kinds of unrealistic worst case scenarios.
- To make things worse, they also tend to under estimate the potential rewards. They seem unaware that just one good idea can improve their business beyond recognition.
The fear of failure is the biggest hurdle to your success. It robs you of opportunity. It causes you to play it safe, which is the riskiest thing a business owner can do. Interestingly, the most successful business owners see failure very differently.
It looks like this:
- If they try something and it doesn’t work, they learn from it. They then invest the lesson in their next idea. This makes them far more likely to succeed the next time. So, they win.
- If they try something and it works, they learn from it and earn from it. So, they win.
That mindset regarding failure is what I suggest you focus on.
If your business hasn’t grown the way you want it to, it’s likely that several or more of those points apply to you.
The question is, what do you plan to do about it? In my experience, people who identify their business needs help fall into one of two broad groups.
- People who find the information interesting, but start looking for excuses to do nothing about it. They will say they lack the time, the money etc., etc. This group is the largest by far.
- People who also find the information useful, but look for reasons to improve things, rather than excuses not to. They will then work on making the improvements required and their businesses will grow accordingly. Cause and effect.
I hope you found this information useful. However, my real hope is that you do something with it.