By Robin Mason
Setting up a new business comes with its fair share of challenges, but often the biggest challenge comes after the first couple of years, when everything is going smoothly. Many of our clients come to us after years of organic growth, finding themselves suddenly plateaued. Now, there are always a plethora of reasons for this, but it’s often quite simple: you’ve stopped.
Think about when you first set up your business, or indeed when you first started in your job. Every day saw a new challenge to overcome and a new reward from that. As you get more confident in what you’re doing and the company becomes more successful, the challenges slow down and so do you.
It’s completely understandable. You’ve worked as hard as you possible can for a long time, often making a lot of sacrifices, and now you don’t have to as much, so you don’t. But this is exactly when you need to put in the extra effort.
Spend a week, or longer, putting in the same amount of effort as you did in the first few weeks of your business, and see what happens. Here’s a few ideas to get you started:
- Don’t end the week until you’ve cleared your list. It probably could wait until Monday, but why not get it done now; the sooner you do it, the sooner you see the results.
- Plan out your week before you do anything. Think of all the things you’ve got to do, all the things you want to do, and all the things you could do. Write them all day or schedule them all into your diary; you’ll be surprised how much you can actually get done in a week if you plan it all first.
- Get in touch with people. Not just your customers or your suppliers, but the people around you that were so vital in helping you build a network in the early days. You don’t always need a reason to stay in touch, but you’ll be amazed how often something great will come from a spontaneous call.
Bringing back that level of commitment and, more importantly, focus, will inevitably see your results rise and as long as you build in processes to allow you to keep that focus, they will continue to rise.
One of the worst habits we see forming as businesses see more success, is complacency.
When you were first starting out, you wouldn’t dream of handing in a report late to your boss, or sending a proposal over when it’s convenient to you rather than when the prospect is expecting it. But over time, this commitment to deliver can slip. Every time you commit to a deadline, make sure you not only make a note of it, but make the date the most important thing on your list. If you really want to make sure you’re meeting expectations, try lying to yourself (it’s a real skill when you practice enough)! When you put the deadline in your diary, put it a couple of days early, but still make sure you stick to it. This way, if something really bad happens you’ve got a couple of day’s grace, and if everything goes to plan then you’ve exceeded expectations, which is never a bad thing.
Although there are always other issues and forces that slow the growth of your business, the easiest to control and see short term results from is your actions. Focus on pushing yourself that bit harder for a couple of weeks and see the results.
But don’t push yourself too hard. In our business, we are huge advocates of having a work-life balance, so once you’ve pushed yourself a bit harder than normal, run home to your family or do something that will help you relax. Relaxing is also key to success!