Ask Mike: My business has been going some time but seems to have hit a brick wall. How do I grow it?

Sooner or later, all businesses hit a brick wall. For entrepreneurs, it is a tough but salutary experience when they realise that the main obstacle to growing their business is, in fact, themselves.

It takes significant gumption to start and then bootstrap a business. You live from hand to mouth, go for any scrap of business you can and use your instincts to make tactical, rather than strategic decisions.

Once the business model is proven, then the enterprise takes on a completely different aspect. The focus is then on doing the same thing over and over again, rather than constantly changing direction by trying new ideas.

Each potential client should be judged on profitability and internal systems should be put in place to keep costs down. Any mistakes learned along the way should be studied and not repeated.

The only thing that differentiates outwardly similar businesses is the quality of the delivery people within it. It is a hard lesson to learn that the people who were the best performers in the opportunistic early days may not be the right people to deal with more systematic and bureaucratic clients.

For the entrepreneur themselves, it is important that they learn to delegate. Every successful entrepreneur, from Sir Richard Branson downward, explains that the biggest factor in their success was their ability to hire people better then themselves, and to let them get on with it.

All of these factors involve some serious soul-searching for the entrepreneur. They need to have a mentor who has experience of going through this phase, who knows them well, can spot their weaknesses and provide impartial advice on the right way forward.

The most effective mentoring I have myself provided over the last ten years has been for people going through this difficult development phase, typically from 25 to 35 people. I use psychometric testing, not to try and change the entrepreneur, but to help them to understand their own strengths and weaknesses.

These sessions can involve some significant soul-searching; but once they break through this barrier the path to future prosperity and happiness is clear.

Mike Southon

About Mike Southon

Mike Southon is a serially successful entrepreneur, best-selling business author, mentor and one of the world’s top business speakers on entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship and sales.

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