2 Ways To Challenge Your Obstacles To Business Growth



Most MDs and CEOs want their organisations to grow, either in terms of growth in sales or profit, or delivering more against their vision, their core values, their purpose.

But many businesses never even get started with their growth plans. It can be for many reasons, all of which we’ve heard of or experienced so many times before; do any of these sound familiar?
  • We tried that 5 years ago
  • It’s not possible
  • It’s a stupid idea
  • We’ve always done it this way
  • We tried to sell to them before

Are these objections still valid? Was it tried with a different team, when technology was different, and the market hadn’t changed or moved on? Is it possible if someone else is given the challenge, as a stretch goal? Were you trying to sell to a customer when you had a different value proposition, a different set of circumstances and a different business model to the one you have today? Were you selling to a different buyer?

Attitudes and assumptions can kill change and growth instantly. Often, your people’s attitudes and bad experiences can influence your business opportunities.

Bomb the negs
If you don’t know a negative person in your business, it’s probably you. Whatever happens, don’t let the negative people (negs) drive the agenda in your business. You need to work with people that are willing to try, that want to think and act differently, that want to go for the challenging goals and targets.

But what you can’t say if they go for it, is ‘I told you so’. Give them the resources, the backing they need to succeed and give them the support they might need if it goes wrong. These are the people you need in your business to drive growth.

Here are some techniques you can use to start to overcome challenges

Method 1 - The Why Questions
Start by asking: Why can’t we improve and drill down 5 levels (it’s a trick you’ll learn to master - if you’re ever in the company of 2 and 3 year-olds you’ll quickly see that they are masters at it).

Ask Why questions:

  • Why aren’t we growing faster?
  • Why do we lose customers, or why can’t we retain customers?
  • Why do customers like us?
  • Why don’t people refer us?
  • Why do we use that material?
  • Why should it look like this design?
  • What shouldn’t we change in the way we deliver goods?
For each of these questions, and there are many more (tweet your starting question using the #WhyVistage), ask a further ‘Why?’ for every answer you give. The theory is that if you get an honest response to every question, you should get the real underlying answer by the fifth ‘Why?’.

  • Why do customers buy from us? Because we have experienced people.
  • Why are they experienced? Because they’ve been in the industry for 20 years.
  • Why does it matter they’ve been in the industry 20 years? They’ve seen all the changes, they know what works and they’ve learnt by their mistakes.
  • Why does it matter they know what works? It means we can give our customers the right advice ahead of them choosing which products and services they buy from us – a consultative sale.
  • Why do customers really buy from us? Our people give customers the right advice when choosing our products.
Method 2 - The 5 RE questions

This is particularly useful when challenging your cost base and considering whether your activities actually add value to your business and to your customers.
  • Remove. Why incur a cost at all? Why not remove it entirely?
  • Replace. What costs can you remove without reducing quality and customer satisfaction? Remember some cost removals actually increase customer satisfaction (e.g. online check-ins and self-print tickets).
  • Reduce. If you can’t replace the cost, can you reduce it instead? Can technology speed up processes and allow redeployment of staff to much needed frontline services?
  • Redesign. If you can’t reduce costs can you redesign your business to use resources, materials and assets more efficiently? For example, law firms use paralegals for simpler tasks.
  • Redistribute. If you can’t redesign, can you redistribute costs over more units?

When using these sorts of methods, one problem can be that people have a natural resistance to these questions. When exploring these routes with your teams to unlock growth, consider using the trick that is used in improvisational comedy; you’re not allowed to say no! Persevere, provoke, challenge, be creative, and actively seek options and new ways.

Are old assumptions, previous experiences and current attitudes constraining your business growth?

To find out more about the key cornerstones required for growth, download our latest guide 'Going for Growth':

Download our latest VQ report for SMEs.


Topics: Change Management