Interviews

Business owners must step back to step up growth

4 min read

02 March 2014

As a growth coach I work with a wide range of businesses to help them boost their growth. The hurdles they face vary – from establishing a brand, to managing cashflow, or tapping into new markets.

But one characteristic the majority of ambitious businesses have in common is that they are all so busy dealing with the day-to-day running of the company that they don’t have the luxury of time to step back and think about the bigger picture.

Although it can be difficult to ‘let go’, taking a step back is fundamental for SMEs to take their business to the next level. It allows business owners to look at their long-term goals and create and adjust business plans to achieve their growth potential. 

Yet a third of the 500 SME owners surveyed for GrowthAccelerator’s Working On, Not In report say that simply finding the time to take a step back is impossible, and that it’s a bigger challenge to their growth prospects than a challenging economic climate.

For many business owners in the UK it is all too easy to become consumed with the every day running of their business – two thirds spend less than two hours a week stepping back and working ‘on’ their business.

But those companies who do find the time to take a step back from the daily grind to put strategic thought into their business reap the reward, with research showing that it can put a business 10 months ahead when it comes to achieving various milestones of growth.

So how can you pull yourself away from working in your business to work on it? Here are some tips for business owners on where to start:

Seek external support. Many businesses find it difficult to recognise when they need to step back and work on their business plans and if they do realise it’s necessary, they don’t get round to making that time available. 

It can be invaluable to have objective and expert guidance from someone outside of your business who can see things from a different perspective

Revisit business strategies regularly to benchmark your progress against your plans and projections. By looking at business plans regularly, you will be able to recognise when your growth is plateauing and when you need help pushing it upwards.

Likewise if you’re on course to reach your business goals, regular assessment of your strategy means you can push your business further by considering more ambitious targets and plans.

Make sure you have the right people in place. It’s vital to have not only a strong management team to support you but also people who can take time consuming admin tasks off your hands, freeing you up to concentrate on the bigger picture. Consider hiring consultants or temporary staff.

Keep communicating. Ensure your entire team is kept updated with your growth ambitions and how you plan on achieving them, so that it is very much a team effort

Be objective. Don’t let your enthusiasm for your business swallow up your time or cloud your view. Step back when you need to and re-evaluate your direction

Keith Angus is a growth coach for GrowthAccelerator