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6 Biggest Reasons Why Your Small Business is Stagnating

6 Biggest Reasons Why Your Small Business is Stagnating

These days everyone wants to be an entrepreneur, so way too many people rush into the world of small business headfirst, without taking into consideration the many variables that can make you or break you. Some even luck out and are able to quickly learn from their mistakes on the fly, but most fail within the first year. This is why you see a few people at the other end of the spectrum – fairly ambitious, yet careful and calculated.

The careful approach can be a good one, but it is easy to get bogged down in various technicalities and have your business stagnate. If you are interested in promoting growth and expanding your business, then you should try to address the common issues small business face, which are discussed in more detail bellow.

1. You don’t engage your customers

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Reaching out to customers

    “Engaging the customers” is kind of a broad term, so let’s look at some of the different aspects it covers:

    • Good customer service
    • Rewarding loyalty
    • Inspiring trust
    • Social media interaction
    • Asking for feedback

    If you want to learn more about what the customers want, then go and ask them. Granted it takes a bit of work, but developing a great relationship with the customers and building a loyal following has many benefits. This extends to online shopping as well. Whether you are opening online shop or want to start selling your goods on Amazon, there is a right way to do things. It involves creating a great shopping experience for the customers. This means that they can find what they are looking for effectively, have access to interesting offers if they buy multiple products, can get in contact with you and sort out any problems, and they need to be able to finish the whole process quickly.

    2. You try to do to everything yourself

    It’s one thing to be very hands on and not want to delegate simple tasks, but once you start doing 4-6 different things it keeps you away from the really important stuff. Let’s say you are a great cook and have opened your own restaurant. You need to be focused on keeping the quality of the food and the service up to standard, and on making the right adjustments.

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    If you suddenly start mopping the floors, acting as head chef, doing your own accounting, promoting the restaurant on social media and posting two articles a day on your website’s blog, chances are you are going to burn out, and the restaurant will be in a poor state. You don’t have to hire an army of people, but be sure to delegate the heavy grunt work and focus on making business decisions and managing your employees.

    3. You don’t utilize modern technology to its full potential

    We’ve already touched on the importance of social media interactions, but small business can be greatly improved through the liberal use of online technologies. With fast and adaptable approaches to software development, i.e. focusing on agile methodology, it is possible get exactly what you need in a relatively short time, through effective communication with the developers and on-the-fly tweaks.

    A good website allows companies to reach out and market themselves to an international audience, while the right custom software helps them significantly improve their efficiency, cut down on costs, and. For retailers and restaurants, switching to a more modern POS system can make a huge difference, while many different small business can save time and money in the long run using applications specifically tailored to their needs.

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    4. You don’t set yourself apart from everyone else

    Standing out

      A business can do quite well, and stay afloat for years making a modest profit even if it doesn’t have any special features that make them particularly unique or appealing. However, you never want to get into the “let’s just get by” mindset, as it will all but ensure that your business never grows past those initial stages. Unless you are dealing with a very limited niche market, you will have to deal with a relatively saturated market, so any defining feature that helps you stand out and makes people remember you is going to be a key component in sparking growth.

      5. You focus on growth at the expense of everything else

      There will come a time where you have enough of a demand for your products and to warrant expansion, and an efficiency that allows for this expansion to happen. However, it needs to be done strategically. A lot of entrepreneurs make the mistake of jumping at the opportunity to expand their business at the first chance they get, and focusing all their energy on that goal. This can lead to a drop in quality of service as you start spreading your resources thin. It is important to scale your growth based on what you can realistically handle without sacrificing productivity or quality.

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      6. You can’t handle the extra workload effectively

      This is a direct extension of the last point. A lot of people believe that once their business starts growing things will magically fall into place and that they will be able to sit back and let this well-oiled money-making machine of theirs keep growing exponentially. Unfortunately, this is not the case. As your business grows so do your obligations and complications. It’s easy to underestimate the level of work that goes into it, and face the sobering truth – you are not prepared to take on the extra workload. This is where things can really fall apart, forcing businesses to work hard just to stay afloat, let alone turn a profit.

      Even if you make the first big steps and start growing your business, you can still hit a wall if you haven’t planed things out right. It’s similar to how Hollywood movies often go well over the initial budget as the production drags on, and many of them end up as scrapped projects as a result. Be realistic about how much a project will cost and how much time and effort it will take to see it through. If you are overconfident and don’t anticipate little setbacks and hidden costs, you may very well cut yourself short and keep stagnating.

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      Ivan Dimitrijevic

      Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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      Published on March 25, 2019

      How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

      How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

      Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up. You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out.

      But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

      Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

      “If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

      It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

      Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

      As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

      As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

      Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

      Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

      1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

      When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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      Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

      2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

      Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

      But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

      If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

      3. Go to All Office Networking Events

      Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

      If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

      Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

      Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

      The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

      Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

      4. Show Initiative

      Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

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      Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

      Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

      5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

      Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

      Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

      6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

      A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

      Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

      Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

      A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

      Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

      Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

      These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

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      Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

      7. Find a Mentor

      With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

      Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

      Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

      8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

      After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

      What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

      Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

      Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

      You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

      9. Set Your Professional Bar High

      Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

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      Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

      Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

      Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

      The Bottom Line

      Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

      “Half of life is showing up.”

      The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

      Remember, your career is your business!

      More Resources About Ever-Growing

      Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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