11 Ways to Push Past a Business Plateau

by Liz London 

It’s common for businesses to hit a plateau at some point. You might be working just as hard, if not harder, as when you threw your doors open, giddy with excitement at all the shiny new possibilities. But profits have stalled, or you can’t seem to get past that “barely-surviving” breaking point.

Or, maybe profits are tanking while customer complaints are increasing. No Bueno.

So, what’s a ladyboss to do? Read every piece of literature on the latest digital marketing trends? Join a dozen new networking groups, hoping someone has the secret sauce to get past the hump?

The truth is that every business is unique. Your industry is unique. Your brand is unique. So, the solution will be unique, too.

Maybe what you really need is to go back to the core conventions of business and systematically evaluate your situation.

Here are 11 ways to methodically clean up your business systems and find the source of your hang-up.

  1. Go back to your start-up checklist. Did you skip steps in a hurry to get the doors open, the customers paying, and the momentum going? Take the time to work through a business plan.
  2. Re-evaluate your branding. Many of us create a brand around what we personally like best or what we think our target customers want. But, quite often, real market research shows that your brand isn’t speaking to the clients you really need.
  3. Inspect your products, processes, and team. This is usually where an objective assistant can make a huge difference. Hire a secret shopper. Do a product test with strangers at the mall. Maybe you need a rebrand.
    Thousands of big brands have undergone rebrands. My favorite example is Old Spice. They were dying as a brand that was equated with old dudes and mustiness. After a badass rebrand that didn’t involve changing their name or their logo (much), I’m proud to say that my man wears Old Spice. It’s hipster, masculine, and funny. And if Old Spice can do it, so can you!
  4. Get your cash flow tracking in order. Your cash flow is the lifeblood of your business. If you don’t have your finger on your business’s pulse, she could bleed out before you’ve even caught on to a problem.
  5. Invest some time in continuing your own education. Take a class in a new satellite skill. Immerse yourself in a retreat. Get re-inspired and re-educated with your market.
  6. Stop trying to do everything yourself. Our biggest growth inhibitor tends to be our time. Take it from Shark Barbara Corcoran, who says, “Every great entrepreneur is most reluctant to spend money on an assistant, because they feel like they can do it all themselves, but it’s the most important decision you can make—to let go of the detail into the hands of someone whose just as able as you are.”
  7. Sit down with a pen and paper and get your goals and projections in order. Forget the mood board and the mindset collages. Crunch some actual numbers to find out how much money you need to cover business expenses and personal expenses. Compare it to how much you’re actually bringing in. Calculate how many clients you need each month to hit your goals. Track your marketing ROIs and determine how you need to adjust your model in order to realistically hit your financial goals.
  8. Take a leap of faith by investing in a growth stimulator. After Step 7, you’ll know which branch of your business will give you the biggest bang for your buck. Upgrade to that premium CRM service. Hire an assistant. Invest in some real advertising.
  9. Get better at your time management. Femtrepreneurs are often creatives. Creatives are often not so great with time management. But that’s not to say we can’t practice at it. My favorite time management guidance comes from Lee Cockerell, the creator of the leadership and management program used by over 40,000 Disney cast members. He says, “Efficient” is being able to get things done. “Effective” is doing the right things in the right order and making sure you address everything that is urgent, vital, and important in every part of your life.”
  10. Shift your marketing efforts towards sales techniques that actually close the deal. Too many of us get lost in the lure of the “passive sales funnel” trend. In a world of too much content and digital noise, maybe it’s time to re-engage in some human-to-human contact in order to close more sales.
  11. Find a way to re-ignite your passion. Turning a passion into a paycheck can lead to burnout fast. After that point, your work no longer fun, and apathy does build a successful business.

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Liz London is founder of The Ladyboss Nation, a certified business coach, and author of The Business Bible for the Unconventional Entrepreneur. She’s a serial entrepreneur, dog trainer, bellydancer, reptile-raiser, and a bit of a bohemian punk who helps people understand there is a place for every personality in professionalism.

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