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How to avoid the brick walls and clear ceilings of business growth

Many business owners excel into greatness but stay there only for a short time. It is my belief that there is something supernatural built into every human being. That something is the desire to win, but at the same time the fear of losing. It seems that for many there are brick walls and glass ceilings that holds them back and keeps them from reaching new levels of success.

I have found that most small business owners hit brick walls or clear ceilings in at least two areas of their business – sales and leadership. In the sales area they feel like they are cruising along hitting the “sales” gas pedal as often as they want and then all of a sudden it is as if the water is turned off and sales begin to dry up. Or, in the leadership area, the small business owner finds the following happening in his business: 1. Constantly having to hire new employees. 2. Always having to deal with fires that the management team should be able to handle or 3. Working way too many hours “in” the business, which is keeping him from being able to work “on” the business. So, what should be done?

Great question. Lets take each of the above one at a time.

Sales Team’s Brick Wall

A sales draught can come to your sales department in many forms. From competition moving into your area, to the economy taking a severe downturn to someone on the sales team leaving your company. All of these could be considered brick walls, and if you read them closely you will see that you have no control over any of them. The way to blast through these or any other brick walls in your sales department can be done with one word – Motivation.

Motivation is a powerful word with powerful results. Coaches of sports teams know this all to well. In the locker room before the game starts the coach motivates his team, thus helping them to believe that they can go out on that field and beat a team that is clearly more skilled than they are.

It works the same with your sales team. In business you motivate towards measurable and rewardable goals. That is why a goal setting exercise is so important because once your sales team has a new focus, or a readjusted focus, of what is expected then they will go out on their “field” and outsell the competition, overcome any challenge that the economy tries to throw at them, and if one of the key employees does end up leaving your company you will see someone step up to take their place.

Leadership’s Clear Ceiling

As stated above, these ceilings can come from at least three different areas. Constantly having to hire new employees can have a negative effect on your business. I have coached several small business owners over the years that always seem be going through staff. And because of this they never get momentum flowing because they are always having to hire, train, rehire, train – and the cycle never seems to end. And that cycle will continue until they develop a sound process that will help them find, interview, and hire the “right” employee. Now, let me tell you up front – no matter what you do you will from time to time hire a dud. You will follow all the right steps and the employee will still not work out. However, more often than not by following your process you will find, interview and hire the right person.

Now that you feel like you are hiring the right employees why is it that you are always having to deal with fires that your management team should be able to handle? After working with over 300 organizations and 1000s of people I have one answer for you. That answer is: leadership training is needed. I know that may sound vague and extremely simplistic, but it is “the” answer.

If you want to stop having to put out most of the fires in your business then you have to train your management team. I bet you have the same question that I had many years ago, “How do I do this?” With all the fabulous leadership books, websites and conferences out there here is what I would suggest. It is a simple idea but one that will work, so please don’t dismiss it. Jump on or go to your local bookstore and buy everyone on your leadership team a book, then meet with them weekly and go through a couple of chapters together. Ask them, “How does this chapter apply to our company” and “How do we get better as leaders because of what we learned this week?” Authors like Ken Blanchard, John Maxwell, and Stephen Covey would be a good place to start.

Okay, we are coming to the end of this lesson. You now know how important motivation is to your sales team, how you can bust through your ceiling by hiring the right staff and training your leadership team, but you just feel exhausted. You are working way too many hours “in” the business, which is keeping you from being able to work “on” the business. The key here is again one word – Delegation. Take yourself to breakfast or lunch this week and make a list of tasks, meetings and projects that you are involved in right now that you simply don’t need to be. Then assign them to someone else. Give them away. What, you don’t have anyone to delegate that special or important task to? Then start your training and grooming process immediately. You will never stop working harder than you really should or want to if you don’t start delegating now.

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