Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

Jackie Nagel, Synnovatia

Recent Posts

business ask

A recent business connection on Linkedin resulted in a fun and insightful conversation. My pen flew across the page to capture how she leveraged the information to get “unstuck” and in motion as we chatted. Enjoy and read the course of action she implemented to break through her resistance to ask.

A small business entrepreneur’s day is filled with opportunities to ask for – and get – what we want—asking leaves some small business owners fearful and hesitant — especially when unaccustomed to their requests being realized. As a result, some small business owners grab hold of the “ask” in a manner that triggers an inability to achieve their quest. 

On the other hand, victorious entrepreneurs seize the opportunity to “ask” and forward their objectives. Why do some entrepreneurs succeed while others fail at asking for and getting what they want? The triumphant entrepreneurs employ “the art of the ask.”

business ask

The Art of the Ask in Your Business

Most small business entrepreneurs are masters of their craft. They are highly skilled in their area of expertise. Their competence may be legal, financial, design, communication, project management, process improvement, technology – the list is endless. Seldom is “the art of the ask” taught at the advanced learning institutions attended.

Consequently, this means using trial and error (i.e., mostly error) to hone their “asking” skills. In contrast, people who ask for and get the “yes” regularly have become skilled at “the art of the ask.”

Does This Make My “Ask” Look Big? 

Asking for and getting what we have in mind isn’t the same. We ask for permission, a referral, the sale, to be paid, for help, approval, an introduction, special treatment. Getting to “yes” depends on the skill and the size of your “ask.” Here are a few pointers to get you closer:

1. Be reasonable. Consider the desired outcome of your ask. Is it directly proportional to your relationship with the supplier of the “yes”?

2. Keep it simple. Research indicates that one (1) reason gets the best results. So, avoid the need to pile on the reasons for someone to do what you want.

3. Draft your request before making it.

4. Be kind/honest/professional. No BS allowed.

5. Be specific and brief. Don’t him-haw around.

6. Provide an easy out. Make it easy for someone to say “no” without damaging your relationship.

7. Show your gratitude.

8. Be willing to give in return.

9. Make it WIIFM compliant. WIIFM stands for “what’s in it for me.” It’s the question that subconsciously goes through the mind of each provider of a “yes.” If your request is WIIFM compliant, your “yes” broker will quickly see that your “ask” imparts something for them as well.

The ability to ask for what you want to increase the likelihood you will obtain it is a crucial business skill. With a bit of practice, you’ll master “the art of the ask.”

Now, go ahead. Ask me anything!

A Brilliant Step by Step Ask

Here are the steps my new Linkedin connection took to overcome her resistance to asking for help:

1. Make a list of people she wanted to contact.

2. Noted her relationship with each. 

3. Identified one “ask” for each. 

4. She considered how to provide an “easy out” if she heard hesitancy.

5. Made the WIIFM (What’s in it for me) crystal clear.

Your turn. What’s your ask?

small business opportunity

Didn’t we all think the pandemic would be in our rearview mirror by now? I sure did! In fact, in my 20+ years in business, I’ve never quite seen anything like the current situation, meaning the pandemic and its impact on all aspects of life.

Given the past two years of never-ending virtual meetings, non-existent in-person team collaboration, and ever-changing regulations, COVID has undoubtedly upped our resilience game. 

Many small businesses have thrived despite the relentless challenges and changes. But, unfortunately, others haven’t enjoyed the same experience. So what do you guess contributes to the difference? Did they find a four-leaf clover, rub a genie’s bottle, unearth a rabbit’s foot, or are they just plain lucky?

Roman philosopher Seneca said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” And, despite it the results, sometimes we have to create a little luck. 

So, if you’re looking for a four-leaf clover in your business to lift your spirits and relieve some of the COVID pressure, here are a few considerations for prompting opportunities in your small business:

  1. Launch a new program. Nothing infuses energy and opportunity into a business more than a new program or service. Can’t think of a new idea? Find a new way to repackage your expertise.
  2. Develop an inbound marketing model. Inbound marketing, coined by Hubspot, Dharmesh Shah, and Brain Halligan, is perfect for small business owners short on time but long on expertise (especially when in-person relationship development opportunities are limited.) 
  3. Have coffee with your clients, virtually, of course. You’ll learn volumes about how to create opportunities for your business by jawboning with your clients. Plus, it shows your clients you care all the time — not just when you need to make a sale.
  4. Guest blog on sites where your ideal client is known to frequent. Regular guest blogging is an excellent way for others to know you exist. Find curated and membership sites where your ideal client hangs out and become a contributing editor.
  5. Understand the buyer’s journey. Not everyone who visits your website or likes your Facebook page is ready to hand over their credit card. Many want to date for a while to get to know you better. Take them gently through the Nine Steps to Building Trust Online & Offline for Your Small Business. And, can’t we all agree? The buyer’s journey of 2022 is not the same as it was in 2020. 
  6. Adopt a giver’s mindset. I’m not talking about giving away all of your expertise for free. After all, you’re in business for profit. It’s an attitude of what you can do for this person rather than what they can do for you. That’s my favorite part of capitalism — being a giver rather than a taker. 
  7. Learn 21st-century consultative selling. Put away the double-knit plaid pants and loud, abrasive sales scripts. In the 21st century, selling is uncovering the needs of others and satisfying them. And boy, if there was ever a time that conditions for businesses have changed, it’s now. 
  8. Keep in touch with your network. Don’t just stop by your social media platforms when you have something to sell; stop by and say “hi.” Turn your favorite social platform into “Cheers” – where everyone knows your name.
  9. Fill your sales pipeline. Put enough effort into lead generation to satiate your sales pipeline. And, don’t stop just short of “full.”
  10. Apply the 80/20 rule. Spend 80% of your time focusing on sales, marketing, and networking activities each day. Try this for two weeks. You’ll amaze yourself with the number of opportunities you’ll enjoy.
  11. Revise your business model. How does the saying go, “It’s Not Your Dad’s Cadillac.” Not that you’re a 120-year old car; however, what worked well pre-2020 may no longer be relevant in the pandemic world. 
  12. Change your business strategy. In fact, why not run your current strategy through its paces by asking the 8 Questions to Scrutinize Your Business Strategy (Like a Boss)

I’ll admit — that even these considerations can be daunting and ineffective in giving your business the infusion for growth it needs. Why? Because “it depends.” Success in uncertain times is dependent on many factors — many of which may feel out of our control. 

No matter what, opportunity, like luck, isn’t what happens to you; it’s what you do that creates opportunities. So, what sort of opportunity are you making today?

Opportunity, like luck, isn’t what happens to you; it’s what you do that creates opportunities. So, what sort of opportunity are you making today?

entrepreneurial time squeeze

My dad, Johnny Nagel, a common sense, hard-working man with entrepreneurial wisdom beyond his sixth-grade education, had a sign posted on the door of his makeshift office. It read…

If you don’t have time to do things right the first time, how much time do you have to them over?

entrepreneurial time squeeze

As a diesel mechanic in a small, farming community, grain farmers relied on Dad to deliver their hay balers, combines, and tractors within a suitable timeframe. Due to North Dakota’s limited growing and harvesting season, the speed of return to the grain fields was critical.

With a demand to finish harvest before the cold, hard Dakota winters set it, Dad felt the pressure to deliver machinery, often before it was fully repaired and ready.

“Good enough” was not good enough for Dad’s approach to the service he committed to providing.

Although it was difficult for harried farmers to see the value of making proper repairs from the outset, Dad’s commitment to quality work ultimately prevented costly delays for his clients.

His attitude and approach to business were the first, and the most influential, lessons I learned as an entrepreneur. It inspired me to deliver quality work with the utmost integrity — not just occasionally — but time and time again.

The High Cost of Entrepreneurial Blunders & Missteps 

In a rush to get to market, we hurry through our business planning process. We tell yourselves we don’t have time! Yet, our perceived time crunch causes a failure to identify critical strategies. This blunder ultimately triggers a flurry of costly marketing mistakes and the need to take up the planning process once again.

How much time (and money) do we have to do things over?

We sprint through research overlooking vital statistics that would accurately position our offerings. We don’t have time — or so we tell ourselves! Following months of lackluster results, this fundamental mistake forces us to realign our products. Yikes!

How much time (and money) is it going to take to do things over?

Corners are cut on a critical project for a high-profile client. This ultimately doubles your project overhead and drastically reduces your profit. Why? We didn’t have time to do things right from the inception — or so we tell ourselves. Not only does this create grounds for the loss of future contracts but puts a permanent dent in our reputation.

How much time…oh, never mind. There’s no do-over when delivering less-than-expected results to a client.


Certainly, interpreting ‘doing things right the first time’ is left to the individual. Whether it’s our planning process, client promises, or work quality, when we find ourselves unreasonable rushing or struggling, remember the philosophy of my Dad, Johnny Nagel — “if you don’t have time to do things right the first time; how much time do you need to do things over?” 

This simple, yet profound approach to business saves us from costly mistakes and unnecessary stress.

strategic planning

Strategic planning is an essential element of business development. It provides the much needed clarification to pace business growth. Not only does it keep you on track and on task, but it also help avoid detours and prevents unnecessary and costly derailments. The payoffs are huge yet few entrepreneurs seem to carve out the time to create their strategic plan — until it’s too late.

The Planning State of Mind

The biggest roadblock to strategic planning shared by many entrepreneurs is the lack of time available to actually think through and create the plan. However, before carving out the necessary time, strategic planning starts with the right mindset.

Here are a few of the faux pas we experience in our work with entrepreneurs:

  1. Many entrepreneurs feel their strategic plan needs to be completed in one sitting. Yikes! That’s a lot of mental overwhelm. Strategic planning, done right, does takes time.  Plus, you want the opportunity to step away from the plan to thoughtfully consider the various elements of the strategic plan. The future success of your business depends on it. It can take 20-25 hours for busy small business owners to complete their strategic plan. And, that’s okay!
  2. Another mental hurdle some business owners face is the notion that business needs to be on pause during the strategic planning process. Nothing is further from the truth. It’s important to continue to grow your business during the process. Insights gained along the planning path have a positive impact on business even before your strategic plan is complete.

Earl Nightingale said, “Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.”

The Practical Six-Step Plan for Strategic Planning

Here are a few pointers to get you started on the right path:

  1. Find your most productive time. Don’t wait until you’re mentally drained and physically exhausted to work on your strategic plan. Find the time when you’re fresh, energized, and creative. The future of your business depends on it.
  2. Arrange 60-75 minute planning periods. Pierre Khawand, author of The Results Curve(TM): How to Manage Focused and Collaborate, discovered that the best results are achieved after 40 minutes of focused work following by 20 minutes of collaboration. This gives you the time to achieve results without creating a substantial dent in your workflow.
  3. Plan to plan weekly. Don’t let too much time pass between your strategic planning activities. You’ll feel like you’re starting from square one. Done weekly, however, ideas, concepts, and direction are still fresh in your mind.
  4. Plan away from your regular workspace. If you’re easily distracted or pulled by the needs of others, get away from your regular workspace. Your neighborhood coffee shop or library stops the interruptions blocking your strategic planning process.
  5. Break down the strategic planning process into bite-sized pieces. Don’t overwhelm yourself with the entire plan. In fact, when your plan is broken down into more manageable pieces, you’ll experience a sense of accomplishment at the end of each planning appointment. Consequently, you’ll move your plan forward more quickly.   John Bytheway wisely said, “Inch by inch, life’s a cinch. Yard by yard, life’s hard.” That’s certainly applicable to strategic planning.
  6. Commit to your plan. Entrepreneurs are notorious for minimizing the long-term wants of their business to attend to the short-term deeds. Think about it. Would you cancel an important meeting with a client? Of course not! Why, then, would you be so cavalier as to cancel any planning meetings with yourself? Be as committed to your planning process as you are to the needs of your clients.

Strategic planning isn’t easy. However, planning is a habit to hone to arrive at the destination you desire.

Ahhh, yes! It’s the time of the year we gather around the holiday table (aka Zoom) with the significant people in our lives…and plan for the year ahead. (Oh, how I wish that were so.)

Unfortunately, most business owners spend more time planning Thanksgiving dinner than they do planning for business growth. And, when resources are limited, planning is even more critical.

David vs. Goliath Planning

year end assessment There’s more than size that separates small businesses from large. The most noticeable difference is how each responds to pressure, stress, overwhelm, and uncertainty.

While corporations spend more time planning when things go sideways, small business owners spend their time putting out fires and dealing with day-to-day operations.

Granted, you have to weigh the importance of assessing, planning, and setting a direction for business growth versus being on the streets doing your thing. However, the real value of proper planning is the time saved by focused efforts and avoiding costly decisions.

A Year End Assessment is Not Rocket Science

A formalized strategic planning mechanism that is held annually is a nice idea. The truth is most of us small business owners aren’t likely to create — or engage — in such a formalized process. In fact, the failure of most small businesses to engage in any sort of structured planning is noted as one of the primary causes of the high failure rate. That’s just plain ugly — especially when it’s avoidable.

Regardless, we don’t need an MBA or special superpowers to accurately analyze and plan for the year ahead. We just need to schedule some time and take inventory of what’s truly going on in our business.

Planning means preparing for future success.

Business Growth Begins With an  Assessment

One of the most valuable tools to identify growth opportunities is the year-end business assessment. It gives you the critical feedback and insight you need for proper planning.

Objectivity accelerates your odds for a successful year ahead.

Don’t Let Business Consume You

It’s easy to get devoured by the day-to-day hustle of a small business. We become engrossed in catching up and keeping up. Before long, we’ve squandered priceless resources and exhausted opportunities — all because we’re too absorbed in business operations — and drained by it all.

Once you’ve completed your year-end assessment, make plans to…

  1. Run your business profitably by putting a halt to underpricing—and underearning.
  2. Take better care of yourself by locking in boundaries, especially related to time.
  3. Work each day with a clear intention culminating from clearly defined goals.
  4. Make better choices by escaping over-commitment.
  5. Target double-digit business growth by delegating and outsourcing.
  6. Maintain better work-life balance through the use of technology.

The Census Bureau counted 40,000 firms with $1 million in revenue for 2017. Granted, that was 2017. Needless to say, they are a bit sluggish when gathering data. However,  even if $1 million in revenue is not your goal, there’s tremendous benefit in setting a strategic direction for your business.

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Want a year end assessment to spark your motivation? Join our entrepreneurial cohort at Eureka (It’s still free to join.) and download Think Clearly. Act Boldly. Head in the Right Direction. 

strategic thinking

Strategic thinking, the thinking process used by the most intentional and successful of Stage II enterprise entrepreneurs is getting a bad rap!  And,  who’s paying the price for it?

You are! The small business owner!

Apparently someone (insert air quotes here) is attempting to sell snake oil on how to think about thinking strategically. After a while, it gums up our business growth. 

 

strategic thinking

 

Myth #1: Strategic Thinking is Only for Big Business

Actually, strategic thinking is for any business looking to take a long-range view of their business and the environment in which it operates. It’s what’s required to make the most of any changes on the horizon.

Applied successfully, strategic thinking helps you better leverage your precious resources of time, talent, and money. With better use of resources comes accelerated forward movement.

Myth #2: Only Certain People are Qualified for Strategic Thinking

The numbers are in — and they aren’t pretty! Chief Executive Magazine reported that only 3 out of every 10 business leaders know how to think strategically.

Don’t let this statistic reinforce the myth. Actually, it points out that few people have been taught this critical business skill. If you’re willing to learn,  you can become a strategic thinker for your business.

Myth #3: I Don’t Have Time to Think Strategically

This is quite prevalent, especially for small businesses. I understand first-hand how difficult it is to pull our heads out of the day-to-day operations, especially once the flurry of our inbox is unleashed.

My dad taught me that if you don’t take the time to do something right the first time, how much time do you have to do it over. That’s a valuable lesson to learn.

High-level thinking encourages the proactive monitoring of your business so you’re not caught off guard by some unnoticed event or trend. Strategic thinking saves you time and money. In the end, it’s what takes the business to the next level. 

Myth #4: Strategic Thinking is a Waste of Time

This myth is particularly poignant for many business owners who escaped the bureaucracy of a corporation in search of their own business.

Having spent hour, upon grueling hour, tied up with multiple people who talked ad infinitum only to use the strategic plan as a doorstop, it’s natural to think it’s a waste of time.

Truthfully, strategic thinking is fast, easy, and very effective when done consistently and correctly. (Be sure to ask us how!)

Myth #5: I Think Strategically All Day

Is it strategic in nature? Does it take your goals into consideration? Is it based on data? Are actionable, corrective actions included in your thinking?

You may be thinking all day but you’re not thinking strategically. In fact, most entrepreneurs spend their day thinking tactically. In reality, you’re thinking about how everything will get done.

Strategic thinking, at the start of your week and/or day, means less thinking (i.e., worrying) about how to get it all done. Strategic thinking clears out the clutter lurking in your mind. It keeps you focused and on track with the activities most meaningful to achieving your dreams.

Do any of these myths sound familiar? If so, rethink your approach to the kind of thinking that ultimately impacts your business.

Strategic thinking is the quickest, most predictable, time-effective skill to achieving business success.

 

Wow! I did not see this coming…

business growth invisible

There’s an “invisible gorilla” in my business? (It does, however, explain who’s been raiding the snack drawer late at night.)

And it’s having its way with my business growth!

An an entrepreneur, my business depends on attention. In fact, I pride myself in staying focused on strategies to grow my business. The notion of not being alert to a “stocky animal with broad chest and shoulders, large, human-like hands, and small eyes set into a hairless face” is horrifying.

Admitedly I’m less than perfect in pursuit of the attention objective. Like you, my attention is divided between client requests, meetings on zoom, acquiring talent,  moving projects forward, juggling cash flow…

Growing a business today isn’t easy — despite what we often read online. Moving a business forward strategically and systematically is not for the faint of heart.

The fact that an “invisible gorilla” roams aimlessly around the office is unconscionable!

.   .   .  

TLDR:

  • The business owner’s inability to pull themselves out of day-to-day operations overshadows key elements of business growth.
  • “Inattention blindness” ultimately slows or stalls business growth that prompts owner burnout, overwhelm, and despair.
  • Join an entrepreneur cohort, engage a strategic business coach, or learn to retrain your brain to break out of your concealed silo existence.

.   .   .   

Sight Unseen: It’s Monkey Business

But what about the gorilla? In the book, The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us, professors Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons explore the inner workings of our minds. As a result, they uncover how we miss things right in front of us.

Their groundbreaking experiment, known as “The Monkey Business Illusion,” reveals a great deal about our focus, attention, and perceptions — key elements that elevate a business to the next level or keep it plateaued.

Watch “The Monkey Business Illusion” video.  And, experience for yourself how critical pieces of information can be, shall we say, “invisible”.

The Invisible Impact on Business Growth

As Simons points out in the video, “When you’re looking for a gorilla, you often miss other unexpected events.” So it is with business.

When we are so intensely focused on a particular aspect of the business, such as juggling cash flow or delivering value to clients, we often miss the most impactful aspects of business growth. Yet, they are right in front of us.

This is called “inattentional blindness.” “Inattentional blindness” refers to devoting one’s attention to a particular activity and unintentionally missing other critical information.

When Chabris and Simons speak of “inattentional blindness,” they might as well be speaking about our experience as an entrepreneur.

What does it mean to miss cricital pieces of information to grow your business? Here are a few “inattentional blindness” fallouts:

  • loss of relevance and market competitiveness
  • high client turnover
  • slimming profit margins
  • cash flow on life support
  • talent not growing with the organization
  • sluggish or stagnant growth
  • owner burnout and despair

Retrain Your Brain to See the Invisible

Whether your attention is focused on a single aspect of your business or diverted to a multitude of activities, objectivity allows us to identify the opportunities and obstacles we’re missing. For instance, to avoid missing critical information, here are a few solutions to consider:

  1. Join a Mastermind Group of like-minded business owners. Others often see what we are missing. As a result, the insight is priceless for discovering and implementing the right solution.
  2. Engage a strategic business coach. A trained strategic business coach is well-equipped to see the “invisible gorilla” in your business.
  3. Train your mind to think differently.  See the “gorilla” for yourself to recognize the opportunities and strategies to grow your business. In fact, consider reading Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant. It’s eyeopening! 👀

Look around. As a result of this new information, are you seeing any “invisible gorillas” in the midst of your business?

business growth

When asked about business growth goals, many Stage II entrepreneurs respond in a variety of ways, like “do better than last year” or “double what we did last year”. This seemingly unplanned, off-the-cuff response doesn’t come from a casual attitude about business growth. It originates from a lack of foundation from which to set strategic goals. 

The truth for most small business entrepreneurs is that business growth is somewhat ad hoc. It’s kind of a mystery. It’s what happens to us when we’re frantically working “in” our business rather than “on” our business.

Business Growth: Not As Easy As it Seems

During the economic downturn of 2008, entrepreneurs quickly discovered the challenges of an economic retreat. Revenues dipped. Budgets were cut. Talent was reduced to keep organizations afloat.

My Dad, a product of The Great Depression, would say, “We need to tighten our belts.” And, tighten our belts we did!

Despite that, many of our colleagues were unable to keep their heads above water. The small business failure rate was 4%. An additional 12% of businesses shuttered in 2009. 

Businesses that sustained a growth rate of 20% or more stayed afloat during that stressful time. Despite the challenges, they weathered the storm.

I originally wrote about business growth rates in 2013. At that time, economists were identifying a global economic decline in 2019 (see 2. The economy will slow down…). Economists said it would likely spread to the United States in 2020. Yikes! We did not see COVID, and its accompanying financial upheaval, coming.

By April 2020, 22% of small businesses that existed only three (3) months earlier vanished despite PPP support. That’s 3.3 million businesses!  One year later, in April 2021, 36.8% of small business entrepreneurs anticipated the return to normal operations would take longer than six months. Their primary concern?  Talent acquisition.

Despite the uncertainty, small business entrepreneurs remained optimistic. In fact, 89% of small businesses queried by Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business program were confident their business would survive. That’s good news!

Business Growth: How Fast is Too Fast to Grow?

While obtaining my MDE (Management Development of Entrepreneurship) at UCLA Anderson School of Business, I had the good fortune of studying under Professors Yvonne Randle and Eric Flamholtz. They created a framework to prepare entrepreneurs for business growth.

Based on their work with a variety of organizations, Prof. Randle and Flamholtz identified five rates of growth for small business firms. (From Growing Pains…Transitioning from an Entrepreneurship to a Professionally Managed Firm by Eric Flamholtz & Yvonne Randle)

1. Less than 15% annually — growth.

Although many consider this rate rather unspectacular, a firm will double its size in five years while growing at a 15% rate. (Raise your hand if doubling the size of your business in five years is acceptable to you. 🖐)

2. 15 – 25% annually — rapid growth. (Note: My practice with coaching business clients growing at 15- 25% revealed some interesting experiences.

During their time of accelerated growth, they admittedly worked harder. They were exhausted at the end of the week. Resources like time, talent, and money were stretched. The quickened growth — and thinning margins — often required an infusion of capital. This seems to be more common with service-based businesses due to the required talent to deliver on value.

The notion of a capital investment, whether it’s through taking on debt via a credit card, loan, or credit line is a bit unnerving. Yet sometimes that’s the risk of entrepreneurship to provide the resources needed to break through to the next level.

Being strategic can help you leverage the risk to reduce your personal stress and get a good return on the risk.)

3. 25 – 50% annually — very rapid growth.

4. 50 – 100% annually — hypergrowth.

5. Greater than 100% annually — light-speed growth.

Your Goal for Business Growth

Rapid growth is very appealing to the always-optimistic entrepreneur. However, it’s good to note these growth rates can create problems for an entrepreneurial firm. Rapid growth, for instance, can make it difficult to keep up with the needed infrastructure.  A business can actually choke on its own growth.

Isn’t it nice to have some guidelines for intentionality in planning your business growth?

What’s your growth goal? Let us know how we can help you achieve clarity, focus, and strategy to achieve your growth goals.

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Stay tuned!  And, subscribe to our upcoming series, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. Learn proven strategies for the growing pains you face as a Stage II Enterprise entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurs strategy for slow growth

You’re an entrepreneur. You made it through the core startup phase of your business growth. You’ve refined your buyer and honed your offerings. Your marketing funnel is consistently generating client leads. And, you’ve built a strong reputation in your industry. Well done! 

The good news? You no longer worry about survival. 

And yet…

You’re overwhelmed. Burned out. Exhausted. 

You work long, endless hours. Each day is utter chaos only to wake and do it again the next day. 

With no end in sight, you wonder how much longer you can work at this fevered pace. 

The worst part? Despite your continued effort of hard work and long hours, your business growth has slowed or stalled. Egads! 

Entrepreneur strategy for slow growth
Photo by Luke Chesser on Unsplash

You’ve hit a plateau — a ceiling — that seems impenetrable regardless of the successful implementation of effective strategies. 

What started out as an exciting journey for you as an entrepreneur has turned into a bit of a nightmare. You feel trapped. You’re falling out of love with your business but can’t quit!

You’ve invested too much.

You no longer own your business – your business owns you.

Welcome to the Stage II Enterprise! 

Stage II Enterprise: By The Numbers

Imagine that. There’s actually a name for the current state of your business existence

As a Stage II Enterprise, you’ve moved beyond startup. During the three to five-year period of business ownership, you’ve proven your business model and achieved some level of sustainability. (Insert sigh of relief here.) 

Annual revenue is between $350,000 – $1 Million. And, although you “enjoy” some fluid cash flow, revenue is stalled. Your response? Tighten down the hatches and work harder!

You manage a team of 5–15 hybrid employees and freelancers, which allows you to expand and contract as dictated by cash flow and opportunities. 

Sadly, your talent pool is a bit stagnant with unqualified hires stemming from the earlier, inexperienced days of business ownership. 

Employees haven’t grown with the organization and because pay may not be aligned with the labor market, you’re hesitant to ask them to step up their game.

Plus, as the former “lone ranger,” you are accustomed to “doing it all” yourself. You either don’t know how or are uncomfortable delegating to the staff. Staff is underutilized.

Your ability to survive missteps, misjudgments, and bad decisions is real. With little to no time focused on forwarding movement and strategies needed to grow the business, the ability to remain relevant is challenged.

And yet…

You know what it takes to run a business and have the aptitude and appetite to continue growing.

Stage II Enterprise: The Information Gap of the Entrepreneur

As a Stage II Enterprise, the marketplace does not serve you well — if at all. Few sources exist to provide you with the proven strategies that work.

A colossal information gap exists between startup, stage one business growth and development, YOU, and the corporate behemoths; information vital for solving the problems of your enterprise.

What you long for — and need — are effective strategies to accelerate the process of stopping the stall and getting to the next level.

Stage II Enterprise: Bridging the Information Gap

To turn a stall into success requires navigating complex challenges, especially in times like this. It’s a strategic balancing act to test the boundaries of what is possible, understand the limits of your business, and maximize its potential. 

Although your chosen strategy is business dependent, there are several problems to solve, such as: 

  • Inability to focus.
  • Sense of overload, overwhelm and overburden by the current business environment.  
  • Limited access to resources needed to succeed like money and talent. 
  • Poor deployment of resources such as staff, time, and money.
  • Cloudy thinking accompanied by poor decision-making. 
  • Lack of a clear direction, plan, or focused execution. 
  • Missing knowledge or skill.  Not knowing what you don’t know. 

Despite the challenges faced, you want to put your talents to use, grow your business, and make smart decisions. Good for you! 

The question remains — where do you start? Don’t worry. We’ve got your back!

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Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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