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January 17, 2019

How To Grow Your Business: An Interview with Patrick Lee of Spark Business Institute

This is the sixth in a series of interviews of business leaders, designed to help you grow your business. Previous interviews: Tim Foley, Business Volunteers, MD ;  Vince Sharps, MindgrubMike Rogers, SecurityHunterBurck Smith, StraighterLine and Josh Hurwitz, GrowBridge Consulting

A successful business is one of constant growth or development. But, along the road to growth, there are inevitable roadblocks that hamper the business’s ability to grow and to succeed. Patrick Lee, of Spark Business Institute, specializes in helping businesses figure out what their real roadblocks are and how to overcome them.
Patrick shared the 4 most common – and biggest – roadblocks facing businesses, along with some strategies to overcome them:

1.     A Very Involved Owner
The Challenge: Yes, we all know that it’s important to be a presence in your business and to take part in the activities within the business (or at least if you didn’t know that, now you should!). But all too often, as the business grows, the very fact that the owner is so involved in the business limits the capacity of the business to expand.

Advice: Learn to delegate authority to someone else. That means someone else is making important decisions (and mistakes!), and you, as the owner, learn to be ok with that. It means that there’s a real management tier – you as the CEO, others with authority, and people specifically in charge of managing the rest of the employees. Make your environment comfortable enough to allow others to be active contributors to your business’s growth.

As you implement these suggestions, you’re removing yourself from being too involved. You’re giving your business the space it needs to grow and become its own thriving entity.

2.     Believing Your Business is Unique
The Challenge: Every business is special in the sense that it has its own unique people and perhaps offers different services than other businesses. But the rules of an organization are constant – the same rules underlie the functions of any business, no matter how unique and special you think you are. But it can be hard to see and understand this when the only experience you have is with your own business. If you think your business is truly unique, then you won’t be able to apply any recommended techniques and solutions to fix the problems.

Advice: Find others outside your business that you trust. It may be another business owner, a mentor, a coach or a consultant. Have them help you understand the structure of your business and give you a new understanding of how your business is special, but not unique.

In business there’s almost never anything fundamentally new under the sun – virtually all businesses run according to the same rules. Believe that, and your view of your organization will change, and you’ll be able to benefit from the many resources available to you.

3.     Overusing your Comfort Tools
The Challenge: People stick with what they’re used to. They have a marketing background, so they throw money into marketing to encourage growth, ignoring everything else. If they’re systems focused, they’ll turn to IT and internal efficiency and ignore all other parts of business growth. But businesses are multi-faceted, and attention needs to be given to the sections that are ignored and weak, since those are most likely going to contribute to the company’s growth.

Advice: It’s probably time to bring in a consultant. Whomever it is, make sure that person has the capacity to understand all aspects of business, and isn’t just trying to sell you their services. Yes, there is the possibility that you’ve already worked with a consultant and they didn’t help, but that doesn’t mean that a consultant won’t help you – it just means you haven’t found the right one. The benefit of working with a “general practitioner” consultant means that they’ll be able to pinpoint for you what needs strengthening. Most likely, those will likely be areas you know nothing about, and then you’ll need to bring in someone to help you with that area.

But be wary! Some consultants will try to rope you into their specific method. Don’t use anyone that promises you that their way is the best way. There’s no one right method, and you need someone who will work with your company with the way it functions, and not try to make your company fit their mold.

4.     Not Leveraging People and Systems
The Challenge: If hiring practices aren’t developed fully, then the wrong people are hired – often out of desperation, or because they had a good interview. It can easily happen that the person that’s hired doesn’t have the right skills or capacity for the job, which means that their profile isn’t going to fit their job description. Or there isn’t a good job description to begin with, so the people aren’t working effectively. Even if you have the right people, they often aren’t working productively, which costs the company a lot.

Advice: Hire cautiously. Figure out what the job description is, what skills a candidate needs, and ONLY hire someone that matches that criteria. A bad hire costs the company a lot, and you want to take as many steps as you can to avoid that.
Teach employees to work efficiently, so that they prioritize the work that you need done. Teach management how to identify what the priorities are and how to lead their team.

Implement technology to help drive the business – in today’s generation, technology needs to take a front seat in the business’s workflow. Project management software, CRMs and reporting tools (and learning how to use them!) are crucial for maximizing your people and systems.

With these thoughts in mind, you’ll be on your way to making productive change in your business and allowing it to blossom.

Spark Business Institute is designed to catapult functioning businesses to greater levels of success. Learn more about their upcoming seminar here (next week – December 5th), and see how Spark can help you too!

January 17, 2019

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