The Number One Hindrance to Growing Your Business

Hindrance to business

If I were to ask you, “What do you think is the number one hindrance to the growth of your business (or organization)?” how would you respond? If you’re like most owners, entrepreneurs and/or service professionals, chances are you’d say something like this

  • We don’t have enough leads (or prospects or customers)
  • We don’t have the right people
  • Our customers aren’t buying like they used to
  • We aren’t converting prospects and leads like we used to
  • We have some internal staff squabbles going on right now
  • We don’t have enough cash on hand
  • We don’t have enough systems in place
  • We don’t have a great strategy in place (i.e. we’re still trying to build a plane in flight), etc.

Now, while I’m a huge fan of strategy (after all I am a business growth strategist), I don’t think strategy is the number one problem.

I also don’t think that a certain tactic (or group of tactics) is the number one hindrance to the growth of any business.

I also don’t think that the number one hindrance to the growth of a business (or organization) is the culture of that business (even though I’m releasing a book on 10 culture drivers in just a few weeks).

So What Is the Number One Hindrance?

I think the number one hindrance to the growth of any business (or organization) goes much deeper than those issues to something more fundamental than strategy, tactics and culture. And to help you see that clearly, let’s just review the list of “reasons” that most business leaders give as to why their business isn’t growing.

  • We don’t have enough leads (or prospects or customers)
  • We don’t have the right people
  • Our customers aren’t buying like they used to
  • We aren’t converting prospects and leads like we used to
  • We have some internal staff squabbles going on right now
  • We don’t have enough cash on hand
  • We don’t have enough systems in place
  • We don’t have a great strategy in place (i.e. we’re still trying to build a plane in flight), etc.

What did you notice? Did you notice that all of them make the same assumption—that the problem is “out there.” In other words, the number one hindrance for any business or organization is the point person’s lack of owning the responsibility for that business (or organization).

It’s the Difference Between Excuse-Making and Responsibility-Taking

Having worked with business and organizational leaders in a wide variety of different businesses, there is a clear personality trait found in the leaders of growing businesses vs. non-growing businesses. And that trait is that they’re all responsibility-takers, not excuse makers.

If they have a staff problem, they own it. If they have a lead gen problem, they own it. If they have an under-performing staff member, they own that. If their marketing message isn’t gaining traction in the market place, they own that. If they don’t have a great strategy in place, they own that. Because they own their problems, they set out to fix their problems.

However, in plateaued and declining businesses  and organizations, the leaders always have excuses (“reasons”) for why they’re not growing—and the problems are always, “out there.” It’s always someone else’s fault. “I hired Joe to take care of that.” Or, “That’s Cathy’s responsibility.” Or, “It’s the economy.” Or, “It’s my competitors spreading rumors.” Or, “It’s customers, they’re just not buying like they used to.”

The Problem With Excuse-Making

However, the problem with excuse-making is that it robs responsibility from the point leader. And whenever a point leader is robbed of responsibility, the probability of a solution drops precipitously. Instead of the owner or CEO jumping in and helping to fix a problem, he/she waits on the sidelines until someone else does. And, in the meantime, feels justified to keep blaming someone else for the lack of results.

But, when you or I happen to be the leader, the buck stops with us. Ultimately it’s always our problem.

The Benefit of Responsibility-Taking

The great benefit of responsibility-taking is that it empowers action. Whenever a leader owns the responsibility for a problem, the next natural step for any good leader is to ask, “What can I do to help  solve this problem?”

  • If Joe’s not doing his job—did we hire the wrong person? Or not train him correctly? Or manage him or coach him improperly? Etc.
  • If customers aren’t buying—are we selling what they urgently want? Do we have the right marketing message? Are we targeting the right market? Etc.
  • If we have a staff squabble that’s affecting productivity—why haven’t we “forced” them to solve it? Or made some moves to solve it? Etc.
  • If we have a cash problem—what part of that do we own? Are we getting a daily cash report? Are we managing cash flow? Are we overspending? Are we making calls on overdue accounts? Do we need to change our pricing or payment schedules? Do we need to cut some deals to get cash now? Etc.

As you can see, the difference between these excuse-making and responsibility-taking leaders is gargantuan!

At the end of the day, fast-growth businesses are created because they take action. But, what facilitates that action, regardless of where it comes from in an organization, is the leader’s sense of ownership and responsibility. And, if a problem occurs, his or her commitment to solving it, rather than excusing it.

Even better, as you’ll see in my upcoming book, is that the example of a leader sets the culture of the company in place. If a leader is an excuse-maker, they shouldn’t be surprised that their organization is as well. However, if a leader is a responsibility-taker, they’ll also produce the kind of organization that will take responsibility as well. Why? Because we always reproduce what we are, not what we want (i.e. if our employees are excuse-makers, you know what that says about us).

So, as you take a look at you, your business (or organization) and your employees, which would you say you are? Are you an excuse-maker or a responsibility-taker? If you want to get your business on a double-digit growth curve this year, make sure you choose wisely! And then eradicate excuse-making from your business. Refuse to tolerate it from anyone (from you, your employees, or your vendors) any longer. It’s a new day!

To your accelerated success!

P.S. Another post I wrote on a similar theme was entitled, “What’s Your Hustle Factor?” If you missed it (or need a refresh) make sure you click here >> to watch it.

P.P.S. A practical application of this post would be to write up a list of the major problems facing your business right now. Then next to each item ask, “What part do I own in this?”