Every entrepreneur, no matter what stage the business is in, startup, growth or decline, will face sticking points. These
can be everything from a simple problem to a larger plateau where business has stalled and is going nowhere. The
reasons why entrepreneurs and their businesses get stuck varies; everything from inexperienced team members, lack of
entrepreneurial skills, fear of rejection, poor understanding of customer markets, lack of capital, etc. For startup
businesses it can also include no accountability, no organizational structure, or being focused on the wrong part of the
business model. For inventors it frequently is an issue of product design and development.
Fortunately there are things entrepreneurs, at any stage in their business, can start doing today to tackle that sticking
point and get moving again.
Shift your mindset
Part of the strategy for dealing with these sticking points is to shift your mindset. Too often entrepreneurs’ view being
“stuck” as a complete stopping point and deal with it as a crisis while ignoring the rest of their business – and
admittedly, sometimes it is. However, instead of stop-go mode, view the process as more of a roundabout, where you
troubleshoot the problems of your business while continuing to move forward.
Get clear about your vision
When problems arise and crisis mode is engaged, decisions are made that may actually hurt, instead of help, your
business. It’s very easy to ignore the bigger vision of your business when you are focused on the week or month ahead.
However, day to day decisions based on a very clear vision of what your business does makes it easier when you are
faced with hard choices, like taking on a potential problem customer just because they will bring in a little bit of
revenue. Your clarity helps you focus on finding only those customers that fit with your vision and bring in more
Stretch your marketing dollar
Revenue will always be an issue in business so start learning to stretch your dollars in marketing. Not because marketing
isn’t important, to the contrary it’s one of the most important pieces of your business strategy. However, more often
than not in new and existing businesses, poor marketing messages or marketing though ineffective outlets are the root
of the problem. Whether you are doing it yourself or hiring a marketing service to help you, be sure you (not just those
you hire to do it) are tracking the effectiveness of each marketing outlet and message, and stop spending money on the
ones that are not working.
Find a mentor now
Every year, Nextiva does a survey of small businesses and found that 44% of them don’t ask for help because they think
they have to figure it out themselves. However, 75% of Fortune 500 CEO’s say mentorship is one of the reasons they
are successful. The myth of that lone entrepreneur/innovator is, unfortunately, very prevalent and for the most part,
very untrue. The most successful CEOs in the world still use mentors and mentor others. When looking for a mentor,
remember they are more than just seasoned business owners, they can be your customers, business partners or other
entrepreneurs, those who might be competitors or outside your industry.
When problems arise, it is very easy to feel like you are on a merry-go- round instead of a roundabout, but that is when
taking a break and exiting that roundabout is the best thing to do. Solving the big and small problems can sometimes
be as easy as taking a break and doing something different. When that’s not enough, consider a group creative process
like design thinking. Many companies use design thinking to help them solve problems, where they harness the power
of customers, team members or other employees to creatively attack problems and seek out of the box solutions.
*This piece originally appeared in the Bellingham Herald.