Sales is coming in at a steadier pace. Even though your business has grown in revenue and/or size, it can easily slip back into the Survival Level if you didn’t build your foundations right.
You have more experience now but there’s a part of you that feels like you’re still winging it. There’s never enough hours in the day to get everything done. Becoming more productive usually means working more hours.
At the Stagnation Level, instead of running your business, you feel like your business is running you.
You’ve attempted to create more organisation, but the back-end of your business still feels like unorganised notes scattered all over your office, in different tools in your tech stack.
Because there’s very little centralisation, the running of the business is completely people-dependent. Without strategies, core systems, structures, streamlined workflows and processes, you’re still experiencing chaos week to week.
Your days consists of spinning plates, putting out fires and reacting to whatever comes your way. Your team comes to you with questions all day long. You’re assigning work to them, you’re checking their work and you’re making all the decisions.
Business can either grind to a halt or start imploding when you or your people can’t show up to work because the knowledge required to operate your business are trapped inside everyone’s brains.
Clunky tools, inefficient flow of information and ineffective communication means everyone struggles to work cohesively together. There is too much noise and confusion created by the disorganisation.
Your company can easily become a frustrating and stressful place to work, especially if people are not aligned to their roles and responsibilities, and you’re not recognising and appreciating their contribution.
When the ‘honeymoon phase’ is over for new hires and red flags in your business compound over time, the experience of your business ultimately drives people away — because people leave when they don’t feel valued, when they’re tired all the time and when they’re not challenged by learning anything new.
Profitability and lack of order is keeping you stuck at this level. Operations is inefficient, work drags out and takes longer to get done, and all the decisions need to go through you. You can feel like you’re running an adult daycare center instead of a business.
Since you can rarely find time to get your own work done during the day, you have to put in extra hours in the evenings and on the weekends in order not to drown.
Even though you now have team members, you spend 100% of your time in “doing mode” and “deciding mode” making decisions for everyone.
You and your team may be teetering on the edge of burnout or a mental breakdown because your business is sucking the life out of everyone.
The bottomline is this: You can’t scale chaos.
In order to level up, you need to operationalise your business by aligning your people, aligning your strategies & systems and aligning your tools & processes to improve profitability. You’ll need to learn to effectively utilise your resources (energy, time, money, people and technology) in order to eliminate waste and operate your business with effectiveness and efficiency.
You also need to delegate effectively and improve your communication and leadership skills as you manage, coach, train and lead your team to success.
- Linchpin dependent, disorganisation, chaos, the plates being spun are dropping
- Unhealthy profits and margins
- Fragmented strategies, workflows, tech stacks and processes
- Customer churn due to inconsistent and/or bad customer experience
- Low cash reserves
- Lots of bottlenecks, slowdowns, wasted effort and inefficiencies
- Still stuck doing and deciding everything in the business
- Not hiring the right people, not firing the wrong people
- Roles and responsibilities not aligned to your people’s natural strengths
- Ineffective delegation and communication
- Staff turnover due to lack of culture, leadership and alignment
- Lackluster reputation
- Not getting out of your own way
What Your Business Needs To Level Up: Create permanent profit through organisational order
- Healthy Margins
- Repeat Customers
- Improved Workflows
- Organisation & Systemisation
- Effective Delegation
- Role Alignment
- Linchpin Redundancy
- Cash Reserves
- Exceptional Reputation
Important Questions To Ask Yourself
- Am I demonstrating behaviours in myself that I want to see in my team?
- Are the expectations I’m putting on my team realistic?
- Am I showing up as a leader my team respects?
- Does my team feel empowered to resolve problems they’re responsible for?
- Are our products and services profitable and am I continuing to improve profit margins?
- Am I consistently removing debt?
- Am I aligning my team’s natural strengths to their roles and responsibilities?
- Do I have to be the one deciding and doing everything?
- Are we creating great customer experiences?
- Are customers repeatedly buying from us?
- Are customers creating positive word-of-mouth about us?
- Are we streamlining our workflows by reducing bottlenecks, wasted effort and inefficiencies?
- Can the business still operate when I’m unavailable to work?
- Do I have the financial habits and discipline to create cash reserves?
- Does the business have enough cash reserves to cover all expenses for 3 months or longer?
- Are we known for being the best at what we do?
- Is the way I’m operating my business sustainable?
While you strive for more profitability, it’s important to recognise that most entrepreneurs tend to struggle with operations related responsibilities such as overseeing the day-to-day, designing and optimising systems, human resources, administration and finances.
Most people start their businesses because they’re either good at “doing the work” or they’re good at “selling” the doing of the work. Everyone thinks going out on their own is better than working for the man until they find themselves struggling to efficiently operate a business.
Stable, healthy, functional and profitable businesses require harmony of 3 core perspectives.
To operate a business well, business owners either need to learn to wear these 3 main hats well or be able to allocate resources to balance out the roles in the business:
- Entrepreneur — The visionary, the brains behind the business and the captain at the helm.
- Manager — The overseeing of all day to day activities, making sure systems are optimised and looking over the operations.
- Technician — The craftsman, on the tools being hands on, the person actually doing the work.
At this level, you may find yourself saying “Managing people is too hard! It’s a lot easier when I’m working on my own!” or “I don’t enjoy working alone, I want people to help me grow the business!”
There is no right or wrong way to design, build and operate your business. You can live a successful and fulfilling life whether you choose to build a team or be a solo operator. Many people are content staying solo and earn a great income from their business.
The only business model that works is one that’s correct for you. Not everyone has the desire to build a team nor want to learn how to develop and lead a team.
However, if you already have a team, this is the time to decide whether you want to step up as a leader, or scale down your team to a size you can effectively manage well. The good news is that leadership and management skills can be learned and developed over time.
If you choose to step up as a leader and operationalise your business, let’s look at what your business can feel like after you start creating order inside your company…