9 Reasons Your Business Isn't Growing

“Why isn’t my business growing?” Have you ever thought it, asked it to a peer or yelled it in frustration?

The answer to this question is going to differ for every business. It may be your products aren’t meeting a need, prices are too high or you just need to spend a bit more money on advertising. Those are all areas that should be analyzed, but before approaching how the business operates, you, the business owner, needs her own analysis.

The business owner can often be her own worst enemy and be the cause of slow business growth. Here are nine possibilities for roadblocks you may be putting in front of yourself.

You are:

1. Operating Without a Plan

You could daydream for hours about the vision of your business–your beautiful product line, impressive publicity, stores on a waiting list to carry your products and loyal customers dripping with enthusiasm for everything you do. Those dreams are the easy part.

Do you have a detailed plan with the exact steps you need to take to achieve your vision?

Without a plan, you’re wasting time on stuff that won’t get you closer to your goals. You’re hoping luck will make your vision happen (even if you are working hard). It’s like driving from New York to California without a map and ignoring road signs. You may get lucky and reach your destination, or you may find yourself in the wrong state.

HOW TO FIX IT

Writing a detailed plan for your business can be overwhelming which is why so many business owners choose to skip it. Start by writing down your vision. Then work backward breaking down the vision into manageable portions. What goals need to be accomplished to achieve your vision? What steps need to be taken to reach each goal?

It looks something like this: Vision –> Goals –> Steps

Then set the vision and goals aside. Put your focus each day on the small actions you need to take. In time, those small actions will add up and your goal will be accomplished–not just any goal, but a goal specific to accomplishing your vision.

2. Allowing Roadblocks to Stop You (AKA Making Excuses)

Realizing you need your own website rather than selling only on Etsy, you bought a domain name. Six months later, here you sit. You can’t figure out how to build the website, you’re confused when you read tutorials and you don’t have the money to hire someone. These are all excuses and they aren’t legitimate.

Whether it’s a website that needs to be created, a material that needs to be sourced or some other type of project, you’re likely not the first to do it. It can be and has been figured out. You are fully capable of figuring it out. Only your excuses are stopping you.

Have you really exhausted all options? Have you asked everyone you know for help? Have you tried everything you can think of? Have you been saving money to hire an expert? Have you researched the subject fully?

HOW TO FIX IT

Stop looking at the entire project or “thing” that needs to be accomplished. What is the single first step you need to take? Do that. Make a phone call. Write an email. Ask a friend for a referral. Purchase the tools you need. Book an appointment. Take one step at a time, just don’t stop moving.

“Take one step at a time, just don’t stop moving.”

3. Not Taking Risks (Thinking Too Small)

Running a business can’t exist without taking risks. Creating the business was taking a risk. Purchasing your first order of inventory or materials was a risk. Hiring an employee, renting a warehouse, advertising and giving your time to the business are all risks. There was no guarantee it would work.

We all have a natural reaction to protect ourselves. We want to run when faced with the unknown, challenged or feel uncomfortable. The level of risk we’re comfortable with varies by individual. Those that are willing to risk big are those who have a greater chance of winning big.

HOW TO FIX IT

As business owners, we can’t let this fear control us. Taking risks doesn’t mean letting your emotions lead, nor does it mean analyzing the risk indefinitely. Do your research and then be decisive. What’s the worst that could happen if the risk goes wrong? How can you minimize the risk? What are your other options? Have you sought information from others with experience? Let your smarts control your decisions, not fear.

4. Not Implementing What You’ve Learned

Learning–good. Learning without applying what you learn–not so good.

You may follow a long list of business experts, read all their books, blog posts and emails, attend their webinars and purchase their courses, but if you never apply what you learn, the knowledge is useless.

You’re a consumer, not a doer.

HOW TO FIX IT

Take a break from receiving more information. Unsubscribe from email lists or have them automatically filed in a folder you temporarily avoid. Select one piece of content to implement that aligns with your business vision. Review the content. Commit to implementing the information in your business to the fullest extent. Move onto the next project only when this first project is achieved.

5. Trying To Do Too Many Things

As small business owners, we’re cautious of how money is spent. We often try to do everything ourselves. We think only we know how to do things “right” and don’t want to take the time to train people.

But we can’t do it all. We certainly can’t do it all well.

When we get help and change how the business operates, we exponentially increase what the business can produce and the growth it can achieve.

HOW TO FIX IT

Start by analyzing your business to see what is producing results. Let go of what isn’t producing and give more attention to what is. You’ll have fewer tasks to handle, but they’ll be creating greater results. It’s working smarter, not harder.

Set up systems to streamline your operations. Batch social media, simplify your shipping process, remove a redundant step in your bookkeeping and automate daily tasks (even if you need to spend some money).

If you’re still overwhelmed and not able to execute all areas of your business at your best level, it’s time to ask for help. It could be asking for help from a spouse or child with personal tasks or hiring an employee or contractor to handle an area of your business you don’t have time for. Focus on what you do best and let others do what they do best.

“Focus on what you do best and let others do what they do best.”

6. Depending on Third Parties to Make Your Business Grow

Your marketing plan consists of daily posts on your social media accounts. You think having a shop on Etsy will automatically drive traffic to your shop and generate sales. You’re doing the bare minimum and don’t understand why it’s not producing results.

This is lazy business and no one has ever been successful with this strategy. It isn’t enough.

HOW TO FIX IT

Create a plan to reach new customers (not the people following you on social media) and drive them to your website. Start with some of the ideas found here, here and here.

7. Trying To Sell To Everyone

A sale is a sale. I’m going to guess that you’re grateful for the sale and don’t care if the buyer is your target customer.

That doesn’t mean that you don’t target a customer and select a niche for your company.

Counter to what one might think, narrowing who your products are for will increase the number of customers you attract.

Having a defined niche will help you appeal to the customer who needs your products, help them find you, and help you find them.

HOW TO FIX IT

Define a niche. Read my article, How Defining a Niche Will Increase Your Bottom Line to get started.

8. A Copycat

Your Instagram feed could be for any business anywhere because your photos are copying the style of what everyone else does. Your website is a sad duplicate of your competitor’s and your products are designed based on what your competitors are doing.

There’s nothing unique or remarkable about your brand or products. You’ve sampled a bit from all your competitors in an effort to fit in and keep up.

HOW TO FIX IT

Stop paying attention to your competition. Stop trying to fit in. Do “you” to the fullest extent. Customers don’t want three companies to choose from that are all the same. They want three unique companies from which they can select a product that aligns best with their preferences.

This doesn’t mean doing the complete opposite of everyone else or seeking a whole new way of doing business. Find the thing that makes your products different from competitors (pricing, variations, materials, quality, style, features, function, customer service, etc.) and become known for it.

“Find the thing that makes your products different from competitors and become known for it.”

9. Lacking Patience and Persistence

You’ve been trying a new strategy for two weeks and haven’t seen an increase in sales. You’ve been in business for three months and haven’t had a sale. You were declined by two local shops when you approached them to carry your products.

Results aren’t immediately happening. You’re frustrated and ready to give up.

Building a business takes time–not three weeks, not four months, not two years. The businesses that are successful are those that are patient and persistent. To run a business you need to love the process more than the end goal.

HOW TO FIX IT

Change your mindset. Every “no” you receive, customer you don’t sell to and strategy that doesn’t work is bringing you closer to success. Constantly analyze, tweak and improve your processes and strategies. Know what you’re building and how you’re building it. Keep doing the things that are going to get you there.

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