The Number One Reason a Company Fails to Grow (It’s Not What You Think)

I recently sat down with one of my new clients to talk about how we could help take his company to the next level.

He started his business just a few short years ago but is raking in more than half a million dollars a year from one location and is about to set up his second in early 2019.

I listened to him explain his company’s current situation, and then he asked me what I would do if I were him. I thought about it for a while and told him that his biggest obstacle moving forward would be communication.

I’ve seen it happen firsthand, and I’ve seen it happen time and time again with previous clients.

At present, he is spending an inordinate amount of time training employees and reviewing things at the end of each day. It’s not uncommon for him to get home at 3 or 4 in the morning. Unfortunately, while his company can grow, his time cannot. That means that the bigger his company gets, the less time he’ll be able to spend with each individual.

When I told him that he needed to put more digital systems in place, he responded with the something I’ve heard a lot over the years – “But our systems work well.” Sure, for now. His system works for one location, but the cracks will begin to show as his company grows. I can’t say for sure when that will happen, as it differs from company to company, but what I can say is it will happen.

I have had discussions like this time and time again over the years with clients and customers alike. I lost count many years ago hearing people tell me it can’t be done, it won’t work for them, or, my personal favorite, they just don’t have the time.

Recently, I was asked to sit in on a meeting at one of my clients’ companies and heard him talk about, among other things, the importance of internal communication. They had tried three different platforms to share information and none had worked.

During the meeting, it was decided that they would stop using LinkedIn for that purpose and to look for a new platform that would serve their needs better. The question that my client raised was, “What is the best way we can share information?” Unfortunately, he’s asking the wrong question. The question he should be asking is, “Why do we keep failing?”

After talking to his employees, it became painfully obvious what the problem was. My client deletes any topics he deems unworthy of discussion or when people question his decisions. My client runs his company like a dictatorship but likes to masquerade it as a democracy.

Both cases revolve around the fact that some CEOs believe their way is the only way. The problem with this is they are unwilling to make changes until it’s too late. In working with clients, I have them stop saying it can’t be done, but rather involve their team and ask people how it might be done.

There is always a way information can be shared faster, regardless of the business. It can be done. You just have to find it.

In my first client’s case, even being able to finish up just 30 minutes earlier each day, over time, would pay off in a big way both mentally and physically for his entire organization. Imagine what a difference it would make being able to finish by 12 am each night (instead of 3 or 4 am) to his life and the success of his company.

With my second client, there must be a way to let ideas flow, even if he might disagree with them if he’s ever going to be able to create a team that can take his business to the next level. At its peak, it had 200 plus locations. Now, they are down to 70. That says something (and it’s not good).

I want my clients to continually ask themselves, “How can we do it?”

I love the story of Henry Ford and the V8 engine. One day, Ford asked his engineers to build him a V8 engine cast in one block. When the design was placed in front of his engineers, they told him it was impossible. Ford told them to find a way, no matter how long it took. Not wanting to lose their job, they said they would try. Six months passed. They came back and told him it couldn’t be done. Ford was adamant and told them to keep trying. Another six months passed. The engineers came back and told him they had tried every conceivable idea, and there was no way it could be done. Ford would not be denied and told them, “I want it, and I’ll have it.” And somehow, as if by magic, six months later they found a way.

There may be things that aren’t possible to do, at present. But think back just twenty short years ago. Who could have imagined we’d have more knowledge available to us than the Pentagon did in the 80s in our back pocket. Life is shaped by the dreamers and the people who don’t accept things the way they are.

As a student, I asked myself, “How can I get a good grade without working hard?” As a kid’s teacher, I would ask myself, “How can I help students enjoy English more?” When I became an English teacher, the question became, “How can I help my students learn faster?” Today, it’s “How can I help my clients maximize their time, energy and money?” I don’t believe in sitting still. We should all remember the words of my mentor, Jim Rohn, “Don’t ask for things to be easier, wish you were better.”

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