It’s no secret every business owner can relate to the familiar feeling of frustration, concern or fear about the state of their current business growth.
One of the most rewarding aspects of our work is getting to know a diverse range of companies and business owners. We get to hear business owners’ frustrations, learn their current challenges, and help them solve their current business problems. Of course, in terms of marketing, most often we’re asked to spearhead all their business growth initiatives.
Since we’re privileged enough to have an array of industry insight when it comes to common problems many businesses face via marketing and business growth, we want to address some of these issues with simple – yet not always easy – recommended solutions.
Reason One: Business Growth Isn’t a Culture Buy-In
When you read this headline, you might be thinking this: “Of course business growth is on the top of our mind in our culture. All of our employees understand we must grow to maintain success.”
It’s not that simple.
There is a difference between having a culture investment and a culture buy-in to your business’s success versus most companies just “telling” their employees we must sell, succeed, etc. Very few employers actually incentivize their culture with belief and buy-in with respect to the company’s success.
You might have incentives in place for your sales team, which is great; that’s needed and it’s also the oldest trick in the book. However, does your front desk associate actually have true investment in your business outside of simply collecting a steady paycheck? Does your Office Manager actually understand the impact they could have, or – more likely – do have on your business? If your team – especially your front desk associate – worked with a purpose as opposed to going through the motions, imagine how much actual culture would incentivize further than your current “incentives” are?
We’re now in the day and age when you have to incentivize your employees with more than just bad “bonus” structures.
For example: I once worked for a $200 million company, and their bonus payout every year if the company grew its revenue by 10% was $1,200 before tax. Yes, you read that right. If I helped grow this multi-million-dollar company by 10% year over year (which is substantial), I'd most likely end up getting $700 after-tax. Their culture was terrible. I had zero purpose to the work I was doing; there was a serious lack of leadership, yet they expected me to “buy-in” for an annual $700 bonus. My response to that was, “No thanks!”
We have to do more than merely incentivize our employees with money. We have to create purpose and impact. If we fail to do this from the top-down we will never get the work we need from the bottom-up. It’s that simple.
Culture is essential for companies of all sizes. Many small companies have culture, but lose it as they grow. Business growth and investment have to be a culture buy-in. From the front desk associate all the way to your executive team, everyone has to understand the impact they have on your company’s overall business growth. Yes, people still want financial growth, but we also have to give them professional growth and purpose as well. If you’re failing to accomplish this, then you’re failing to inspire, and may eventually fail altogether. Your business growth has to be built on inspiration not financial expectation.
Reason Two: Marketing Isn’t a Priority
Many companies have a great product or service. The business’s core production is rarely ever the problem. The reason many small businesses struggle is because they don’t have a healthy pipeline of business in the works – whether that be in terms of awareness, leads, customers, etc. More to the point, they don’t know how to achieve true business growth through marketing.
Serial entrepreneur and CEO of DuckDuckGo, Gino Wickman, agrees with this theory. He, too, believes most businesses have great products but fail to succeed because they don’t how to find the right “traction” through marketing. Gino believes most businesses fail because of poor marketing; he even wrote a book called “Traction” dedicated to showing his three-step framework called Bullseye – giving you his roadmap to channel marketing through your business. Marketing should be integral to your operations, not a layer you “sprinkle” on top.
The truth is most business owners need to focus on running their business – not learning how to control all avenues of their marketing. Unfortunately, despite how critical it is, marketing more often than not gets lost in the shuffle of running a business’s operations. For this reason, teams like GoEdison feel it’s critical to make us the marketing branch of your operations.
Our solution is simple. We believe it’s critical for businesses having a hard time finding their “traction” through marketing to consult with an on-going trusted partner. We even wrote a blog and created a video about the top three reasons for businesses to outsource their marketing to a digital marketing agency.
Problem Three: Lack of Leadership
The one common denominator we see when it comes to stagnant business growth, and even more so, business failure, is the lack of leadership. We believe the small to medium sized business sector is currently struggling with a leadership problem. There are many business owners who started a business, saw success, and didn’t need to focus on developing leadership qualities until it was too late.
If we’re all being honest, every business can improve in the leadership department. Leadership is a practice that’s never mastered, and is easier to lose than to gain, but can always be improved when made a priority.
The hardest thing sometimes is looking in the mirror and asking yourself as a business owner, “What can I do better?” It’s important to emphasize the “I” part. Or, even more so, acknowledging what you’ve done wrong (only you if you can help it). This painful practice could be the difference as far as whether your business is growing or not – alluding to the reality, which is your company has a leadership problem. Maybe that starts with you, the owner, or maybe it starts with your supporting cast? Or, maybe it’s everyone, which grazes up against the culture problem again. Finger pointing will exasperate the problem, so the important thing is fixing it.
Leadership can be contagious. When a company has stellar leadership, things seem to fall in place – from the marketing and sales, all the way down to ground level operations. Like we said earlier, you need to inspire your employees with purpose; that starts from the top. Your team's inspiration has to come from you, their leader.
If you believe your business is struggling from a leadership problem, we have a list of things we normally recommend. More often than not, there is no “one-solution-fixes-all” when it comes to leadership. If you have to take it head on, It’s the biggest culture and attitude buy-in you as an owner will have to make. It won’t be easy, but it’s easier than a slow death.
Here are a few things we recommend to enhance your company’s leadership:
- Hire a CEO. Believe it or not, as an owner, maybe it’s worth it for you to hire a seasoned CEO. Have a proven leader insert the right type of direction into your business.
- Hire a business coach. Many do this and have seen success. The tricky part, is finding the right coach.
- Don’t want a coach? Get a mentor. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, it’s not always that easy. Leaning on a mentor is something all great leaders do, no matter their status or age. However, don’t “lean” too much; we’ve seen people conflate “mentor” with the guy or gal they want to do everything for them. We call those people enablers.
Your Denver Marketing Solution
Where has the time gone? We’re almost out of Q1 of 2017 already. How has your business growth been for the first quarter? Has your growth been good? Average? Could it be better? Perhaps a lot better?
No business is perfect, but – if you can master these three problems – we are confident you’ll see instant growth within your business. Sometimes, mastering these three problems comes with understanding when to ask for help. More often than not, GoEdison is your Denver marketing solution.
Check out our website, click around, and contact GoEdison to revive your content today.