Every entrepreneur experiences plenty of highs and lows with their business. Periods of immense growth feel like they’ll last forever. Until they don’t. At some point, things just don’t seem to work and you feel stuck. I had to learn how to unstick a “stuck” business myself and want to offer some advice from the trenches.
From Winning to … Not
Through my journey as an entrepreneur, I’ve experienced plenty of pride and joy when my business grew and reached new milestones like:
- Hiring my first employee
- Expanding our office
- Landing our first six- and then seven-figure contracts
- Receiving recognition as a Best Place to Work and a Fastest Growing Company
These all served as highlights along my entrepreneurial journey for sure.
But at times my business also felt stuck in an unexplainable funk. Growth slowed. Things became super complicated. We didn’t achieve our goals. I recall scratching my head, asking myself, “What the heck just happened?”
Although I couldn’t articulate it then, we’d experienced a phenomenon that all businesses go through. In EOS®, we call it “hitting the ceiling.” I now know that all businesses go through a series of hitting ceilings as a normal part of growing. If what I have described sounds familiar, you’re not alone.
Hitting the Ceiling
“Evolution and Revolution as Organizations Grow,” a study published in the 1970s, found that businesses do not grow in a perfectly straight line.
Instead, businesses experience periods of evolution and periods of revolution. Actual growth looks more like climbing a series of progressively taller mountains with peaks and valleys. Rarely does a business’s growth look like a smooth diagonal line.
Unfortunately, 50% of businesses that hit the ceiling will close their doors or their growth will simply remain flat. Some businesses maintain a stagnant life, while most others struggle to survive until their leaders experience burnout and call it quits.
Only a few break through the revolutionary period (i.e., the ceiling) and elevate their organization to the next level. Of those that break through the ceiling and grow to the next level, the cycle repeats roughly every decade. For rapidly growing organizations, this happens much more frequently.
If this has you feeling depressed, don’t worry … there’s hope!
Breaking Through the Ceiling Every Time
A strong and cohesive leadership team has a responsibility to parent its organization to greatness. By learning, mastering, and embracing The Five Leadership Abilities™, you and your team can break through the ceiling every time.
The Five Leadership Abilities
Growing businesses quickly become complex. Leaders need to apply the “less is more” principle in everything they do and keep things simple.
Leaders and their people must become masters at the ability to Delegate and Elevate™ to their Unique Ability, a term coined by Dan Sullivan of The Strategic Coach. Those unable to learn to let go and distribute work will remain forever stuck.
Great leaders also must become great predictors and prepare for the ride ahead. Decision-making is much more effective with confidence in what the future will bring.
Scaling an organization requires standardizing and implementing repeatable processes to deliver a consistent experience or product.
A company’s people structure needs to address the growing needs of the organization – structure first, people second. This means leaders should structure their organization for the greater good of the business first. Then they can determine the right people to fill the seats in that structure. Creating seats to accommodate the needs of specific people doesn’t serve the best interests of the employee or the business.
When an organization hits that ceiling, I’ve found practicing these five leadership abilities will get them to the next level. This helps minimize the disruption and ensure employees are engaged.