There are a lot of different ways of defining a business plateau. Some business experts tell us that companies tend to plateau at the “one”s and “three”s of business ($10 million, $30 million, $100 million – and so on). But others think of growth plateaus at certain stages or in particular time frames. However you view stagnancy, the reality is that your company is likely to experience it at some point. So, when you do, how can you break through it and drive business growth anyway? Here are three ways.
Team Review & Role Analysis
Your team is at the core of all you do. But that doesn’t mean you need to clean house as soon as you notice your revenue has halted. In fact, you might have the right team members in place, but might not be utilizing them optimally. Sometimes, a business plateau could be an indication that someone within your walls is holding you back, but it’s usually not this linear.
Instead, think about a growth plateau as an opportunity to revisit how your team is structured. Use a survey (like eNPS) to find out how satisfied employees are, or initiate personality and skills/strengths tests in order to figure out if certain people are in the wrong roles. You might find that some team restructuring is all you need, or that you’re missing someone for a pivotal role and need to make a strategic hire. If you look hard enough, you’ll almost certainly find people-centric changes you can make to move you past your plateau.
As you scale, your processes must scale as well. If they don’t, you all but guarantee stagnancy. But changing them can be one of the hardest things you do. Let’s say your sales have exploded but you’re still manually keeping track of your inventory. This isn’t sustainable. Maybe previously your team members could simply walk through the warehouse and take notes by hand about material quantities. But now if they try to do that, they’ll find themselves in the midst of forklifts and frenzied operations, thanks to increased demand and a rush to fulfill orders.
The process needs to grow alongside the sales. You may need a new hire to help share in this responsibility (see number one above) or you may need a new piece of technology that helps you automate inventory management (see number three below). But either way, you’ll need a new process. Processes are hard to change because they require a change in habits.
But if you talk openly with your team about why a process must change, guide them in understanding the new protocol and support them as they transition toward it, you’ll all be able to grow more smoothly together.
New or Advanced Technology
When you reach a big revenue milestone, like your first $10 million or $100 million, your needs change. After all, each bump in revenue also represents an increase in employees, sales and responsibilities. This often means your best bet is to bid adieu to legacy technology and upgrade your tech stack.
How do you know if and when this is necessary? There are typically some clear signs. One is that you start noticing your current technology is lacking in flexibility or functionality. Your growing business starts to need more from the solution, and it’s not able to keep up. Or, you might realize your system is no longer solving your problem. This is only natural. The problems you solve for as a medium-sized business are often drastically different from those that need to be solved when you’re an enterprise.
Your people, processes and tech stack should be serving you, streamlining your operations and supporting your growth. Making necessary changes, and ensuring your business’s scalability, is all but guaranteed to help you break through your current plateau.
Need help implementing new technology or navigating people and process changes? We’ve helped countless clients scale and expand internationally. We’d love to help you too.