“You don’t look like a chemical engineer,”another (male) chemical engineer said to me, upon being introduced as his new colleague, as if I was some strange aberration of the “species”. (Twenty years later, I still get a laugh remembering his reaction.)
“What’s an engineer supposed to look like?”, I asked him with a smile. It wasn’t the first time that I had heard that type of comment from a man upon introducing myself (certainly not the last) and why get angry when humor can often be the best response?
I may not fit that particular “engineering stereotype” but I certainly have an engineer’s fascination with complex problems – and finding simple and practical ways to solve them.
The problems that I’m intrigued by, however, are business problems – problems that challenge and stump the CEO’s and business leaders of small and mid-market companies who are working to grow profitable and sustainable businesses.
So what are the four most common business “stucks” I’ve seen?
1) You don’t have a written plan. Research continues to show (and I won’t quote anyone here since this has been shown to be true so many times) that if you really want to get something done, write it down. Everyone from Covey to John Assaraf has shown that productivity increases several hundred percent when you write your plan down and stay on top of it weekly. This one is simple to solve. If you don’t have a One Page Plan™ yet, it’s time you checked it out.
2) You’ve invested in the have to’s but not the “luxury” items. All business owners know that they need to spend money on the right technology, people, insurance and services like tax accountants. But there are other spends like process standardization and documentation and finding an accountability partner that are just as necessary, especially as you grow past 15 or 20 employees.
3) You’ve got a plan but no “map”. Some of you maybe have a great written plan but no map of the landscape that you’re traveling over to tell you when there’s been a significant change. Flashpoint’s™ Seven Stages of Growth, developed from interviews with over 600 entrepreneurial companies, is just the ticket to help you clarify what obstacles will be in your way – whether you’ve got 10 employees or 200. (More on this tool – one of my favorites – in my next post.)
4) You’ve mistaken revenue growth for the “real topline” – Gross Profit. Entrepreneurs get enamored with revenue growth. It’s hard not to when it’s growing and growing year after year – and of course it gives you bragging rights at cocktail parties and networking events. But if you don’t have your eye on what Greg Crabtree calls the “real top line” – gross profit – you’re missing the boat. A business model that doesn’t consider what it costs to deliver and service customers – and manages growth responsibly, will quickly put you out of business. If growing “profitably” is your biggest stuck, get a hold of Crabtree’s book, “Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits” now – OR – visit his website here.
So – what’s your stuck? At the mid-year of 2013 what issue is still gnawing at you – or continues to be problematic for you? Or maybe for your team?
Let me know – I’d love to hear – and to help! To quote Lucy, “The Doctor is In.” And no matter your problem, we’ve got a “tool” for that… J
With over 30 years of experience, Cheryl Beth partners with small and mid-market CEO’s and C-level executives to create more valuable and sustainable companies. She has led strategic change initiatives, provided business advisory and coaching services to hundreds of small and mid-market companies and focused on providing a return on investment to every CEO with whom she has worked. Questions about how you can scale your business? Connect with Cheryl Beth on LinkedIn and drop her a message, she’s happy to offer some guidance.