How to Use Obstacles to Grow Your Business

March 14, 2018 | Small Business Support

“An obstacle is often an unrecognized opportunity.”

– Petteri Tarkkonen, Leadership Expert

The beginning of a new year has always been a time where we can mentally draw a line in the sand, turn to a new chapter, and start anew.

We eagerly commit to resolutions and draw up to-do lists. Like wide-eyed kids, we plunge into the new year with optimism and hope. And then…

  • And then we forgot to plan or budget for something.
  • And then unexpected costs pop up, employees quit, you lose a key supplier or distributor.
  • And then unforeseen obstacles suddenly derail your plans.

But do they have to? Can you successfully smash through these roadblocks and use them as opportunities for growth? You can and here’s how!

Obstacles: Too much to do, too little time, too many tools

The world of digital technology is growing exponentially and there are numerous programs and apps to help with the planning processes that keep your business organized, connected, and growing.

The more you plan, the more likely your vision will come true. However, the planning process shouldn’t be reactive, onerous or static; it should be efficient, malleable and not take up too much precious time in your busy day. Designed for today’s entrepreneur, GrowthWheel® is a tool to help you efficiently translate business plans into effective processes and pinpoint scale-up opportunities. It can help you prioritize to-do lists and separate action items from less important tasks that won’t grow your business.

Obstacle smasher: Use the right tool for the job.

Opportunity: By focusing in on actions that will grow your business, at the speed you want, you can identify the right steps to accomplish the goals that will add to your bottom line.

Obstacles: Too broad a focus, lack of objectivity, wearing too many hats, not an expert in everything

Being a business owner or entrepreneur can be overwhelming and even lonely. While passion can provide a lot of fuel during the pre-launch and early days of growing your business, it’s important to consider your physical and mental well-being; the pressures of decision fatigue and trying to do it all can compound quickly.

A mentor can help you zero in on what you should be focusing on. Their ‘been there, done that’ advice can be invaluable along with a network of peers and other business owners with a different expertise can complement your business knowledge. You can even work out a barter system to exchange services. It’s important to maintain a healthy work-life balance; without it, you’ll have neither.

Obstacle smasher: Have a support team.

Opportunities: Crowdsourcing ideas and then applying them to your unique situation will give you a number of possible scenarios. Plus, listening to the advice of those who have experienced similar challenges will save you a lot of headaches!

Obstacles: Not sure which path to take, how to protect your assets

Change is inevitable and running a business means dealing with constantly-shifting industries and economies, and any number of unknowns on a daily basis. Generating new business can be a challenge. Assessing the inherent and potential risks that could affect your business is critical to choosing the right path forward.

Create a back-up plan. Consider obvious risks like how to properly secure your data but you should examine all your business processes to identify vulnerable areas. Identify any potential risks and prioritize by the level of impact on your business and create backup plans to mitigate the risks.

Obstacle smasher: Have a back-up plan.

Opportunities: Not sticking your head in the sand will make you aware of how to improve your processes and bottom line. Assessing potential risks could lead to the development of a new product or service as you realize others in your industry have the same issue.

Obstacles: Maintaining relevance, how to scale your business

The business world has always been a dog eat dog place, but never more so than today when customers expect everything to be accessible online and in short order. To make sure your business is on the cutting edge, know how to get in front of the right audience, know what your customers want, and offer gold star customer service. Build customer relationships by resonating with your customers’ key values and by being authentic and fun.

Accumulate business knowledge and best practices like a hoarder and hone your creative and innovative side to stay ahead of the competition at each stage of your company’s growth. Learn from each obstacle, failure or near miss so you can iterate or pivot. Never stop learning.

Obstacle smasher: Learn, rinse, repeat.

Opportunities: Don’t close potential windows of opportunity. Don’t think of business hurdles as problems: consider them as opportunities to build your business in another direction, a different path to reaching the same goal.

The difference between people who successfully forge ahead and those that fall behind is the clarity they have regarding their goals and how to achieve them – and their process for overcoming hurdles.

If you look at obstacles as something to overcome and learn from rather than taking a step back, you’ll be able to forge ahead confidently and build a business to be proud of.

Need help turning hurdles into insights? CEDEC Small Business Support has helped hundreds of SMEs, just like yours, innovate, grow and prosper. Learn how to save time and money while building your business how, when and where you want – call or email us for a free one-hour strategy session!

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