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Unlocking Business Growth: Navigating Stagnation, Stuckness, and Chaos

Unlocking Business Growth: Navigating Stagnation, Stuckness, and Chaos

In the world of business, growth isn’t always a straightforward path. Many business owners, regardless of their experience, encounter three common growth challenges that can leave them feeling frustrated and exhausted. Let’s delve into these challenges and explore strategies for overcoming them.

1. Stagnation: When Growth Hits a Wall

Stagnation in business is like running on a treadmill—you’re expending energy, but you’re not getting anywhere. Business owners often attribute this to external factors, like market conditions or economic fluctuations. However, it’s crucial to recognize that stagnant growth often reflects an inward-looking, passive approach.

The solution? Start by re-evaluating your business mindset. Instead of dwelling on external factors, shift your focus to what you can control. Embrace change, be proactive, and actively seek out growth opportunities. Blaming external factors won’t drive progress, but a change in attitude and approach can.

2. Stuck Growth: Spinning Your Wheels

Stuck growth is akin to trying to move a car out of the mud—you’re putting in effort, but the wheels keep spinning. In this scenario, your business might be making deliberate efforts to expand, but the outcomes remain disappointing.

To break free from this situation, it’s necessary to reconsider your approach and actions. Understand that what worked in the past may no longer be effective in the current business landscape. Re-evaluate your strategies, investments, and operations. Seek expert guidance if required. Don’t persist with the same methods if they’re not yielding results.

3. Chaotic Growth: Thriving Amid Turbulence

Chaotic growth can be both exhilarating and overwhelming. Your business is expanding, but it feels like you’re constantly putting out fires. Daily operations become increasingly complex, and you’re pulled in every direction.

To regain control during chaotic growth, focus on establishing a robust foundation. Reorganize your business structure and operational processes. Simplify workflows, delegate responsibilities, and introduce systems that can handle growth efficiently. Building a structured foundation will prevent you from getting bogged down by the daily whirlwind.

Regardless of the growth challenge you’re facing, it all begins with a shift in attitude and approach. Recognize that your business and the business environment are in a constant state of evolution. What worked in the past might not be effective today. Embrace change, take control of your business’s destiny, and adapt to the evolving landscape.

In the words of Thomas Edison, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Don’t let these challenges deter you; instead, view them as opportunities to evolve and thrive in the ever-changing business world. Unlock your business’s growth potential by adopting the right mindset and strategies.

To listen to the full discussion from the show:

https://omny.fm/shows/the-money-show/small-business-focus-how-to-solve-the-three-domi-1

Rituals, routines, habits: The blueprint for transforming your business growth

BUSINESS LEADER: Rituals, routines, habits: The blueprint for transforming your business growth

In this article, first published in Business Leader, Pavlo shares Rituals, Routines, and Habits: The Blueprint for Transforming Your Business Growth.


Once your business has achieved a ceiling of performance, how you invest your time and attention determines your future success. To understand how we invest our time and attention, we can look at the habits that drive us, consciously and unconsciously, every day. Our habits form behaviours that manifest both good and bad outcomes.

Habits form when you do something that makes you feel good and can be initial and ongoing. Here’s an example of each.

A cigarette makes you feel good when you light and drag on it. You might feel awful after, and swear to stop smoking, but you won’t and don’t. I’ve observed this as a non-smoker for years. So why did you start smoking in the first place? Was it to be cool or fit in?

Whatever it may have been, you likely developed a habit around it – a morning and evening smoke or when things get rough in life. Mostly, you don’t even think about it. You light up and draw, reminding yourself that you are going to die one day or promise yourself you’re going to give up next week.

A good habit might be brushing your teeth twice a day. Don’t do it and feel uncomfortable. Do it, and you feel virtuous, clean, and fresh. You likely do it now without even thinking. It’s a habit.

Both are mainly unconscious. You do both whilst thinking or doing other things. And yet, these acts bear consequences. They shape your future despite your aspirations and intentions.

What does this have to do with business growth?

Upon reaching a certain level of business performance, your time and attention, more than money, skills, strategy, and advice, are the greatest determinants of future growth.

Understanding what guides your time and attention becomes the most critical insight into your company’s future and leadership imperative.

There are primarily 3 drivers:

Rituals

These are considered actions and behaviours intended to yield a clearly defined outcome. For example, 20 min of exercise, followed by 10 minutes of meditation first thing every morning. It is deliberate, purposeful, and practised.

Routines

Patterns of behaviour set by circumstances. For example, a weekly routine that sees you go to work differs from a weekend routine that does not. In each case, the routine is governed by the day’s or event’s logistics and requirements.

Habits

Both routines and rituals can become habits. A ritual that becomes a habit loses its purpose since rituals are meant to be intentional and purposeful, requiring conscious, practised presence. Routines lead to habits more often. But habits also form based on past behaviours, responses, practices, and circumstances. It makes them the hardest to see, understand and change and skews your ability to evaluate how you invest your time and attention.

As a business grows from one level to the next, fundamental changes are needed to support the growth. How you lead, manage, and behave as a business owner in a company generating £5m annual revenues is fundamentally different to what is needed for a company generating threefold that. And to get a company from there to that future revenue requires different routines and habits to those that got you there in the first place.

So, can you change your habits to enable this growth?

Popular culture says yes. Identify the habit, understand the trigger, replace it with better behaviour, reward yourself each time and after 21 or 33 and ¾ days, a new habit is formed.

I don’t buy it. Many business owners backslide from leading growth into operating the business. What’s needed is more than willpower and six steps to success in habit formation.

By creating a monthly ritual that holds you accountable to your intentions and goals, using a trusted observer who asks the right questions, challenging and debating your answers, and using data and evidence to maintain clarity and truth, the likelihood that you will always practice the right habits for the right time is greatly enhanced. Consciously investing time and attention to growth, rather than having time and attention absorbed by old habits, is the key to unlocking your full potential in life and business.

Embracing Relentless Uncertainty: A Business Owner’s Guide to Thriving in Chaos

Embracing Relentless Uncertainty: A Business Owner’s Guide to Thriving in Chaos

In the fast-paced and ever-changing landscape of today’s world, uncertainty has become an inevitable part of life, especially for businesses. The overwhelming influx of variables and challenges can leave even the most experienced entrepreneurs feeling stuck and unsure of their next move. However, there are tactics that can empower you to navigate through uncertainty, seize opportunities, and drive your business forward with confidence and vigor.

In a recent podcast of The Money Show, Pavlo Phitidis explored some essential strategies that can help you embrace and conquer relentless uncertainty.

1. Drip Feed Your Psychic Energy

To combat the mental exhaustion caused by a barrage of uncertainties, learn to draw inspiration and energy from both your past successes and your vision of the future. Reflect on your past achievements to boost your self-confidence and envision a successful future to fuel your motivation. This balance will help you maintain your focus and determination amidst the chaos.

2. Simplify and Group Variables

Facing a multitude of variables simultaneously can lead to a chaotic and overwhelming experience. Instead, simplify the complexity by grouping related variables together. Categorize challenges into themes such as customer issues, capacity problems, and supplier concerns. This organization allows you to tackle each group with a clearer, more effective approach.

3. Visualize and Shape the Challenge

Visualization is a powerful tool for comprehending intricate challenges. Grab a whiteboard or a piece of paper and visually map out all the moving parts and variables involved. This process will help you identify the significant issues rather than getting lost in a sea of minor problems.

4. Break It Down Into Steps

When confronted with an overwhelming challenge, break it down into actionable steps. Focus on the first step and the desired outcome, leading to the second step and it’s outcome, and so on. This approach allows you to test the waters without risking everything upfront. However, be cautious not to abandon an idea prematurely, as some endeavors may take time to gain traction and show results.

5. Envision Multiple Scenarios

The future is uncertain, but that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for it. Envision various scenarios, both favorable and unfavorable, to understand potential outcomes and associated risks. This foresight enables you to be proactive and make informed decisions based on the situation at hand.

6. Rely on Data to Objectify

Data is an invaluable asset in navigating uncertainty. Analyze what can be measured and what is tangible. While it may not be feasible to quantify everything, leveraging data can provide invaluable insights and clarity during critical decision-making processes.

7. Get It Out of Your Head

When grappling with complex challenges, avoid keeping everything confined to your thoughts. Talk it through with a trusted colleague, mentor, or even write it down. Hearing yourself or reading your thoughts aloud can shed new light on the quality of your thinking and uncover new perspectives.

8. Seek the Right Guidance

Consult with experienced individuals who have faced similar challenges. Remember, expertise is not solely measured by time, but also by the depth of learning from mistakes and experiences. Engaging in discussions with the right people can provide you with invaluable advice and insights to make more informed choices.

9. Embrace Decisiveness

In an uncertain world, decisive action is a game-changer. Embrace the unpredictability and recognize that taking a stance is essential. Choose a path, and once decided, act deliberately and boldly. Your courage and conviction will set you apart from competitors, enabling you to shape the market rather than reacting to it.

Embrace the chaos, and by doing so, you will not only survive but thrive, becoming a driving force in reshaping your industry and creating a brighter future for your business.

Building Meaningful Customer Relationships: The Key to Sustainable Success in Business

Building Meaningful Customer Relationships: The Key to Sustainable Success in Business

In today’s fast-paced and competitive business landscape, finding, winning, and holding onto customers is the lifeline of any successful venture. However, traditional approaches like door-to-door selling and social media bombardment have lost their charm, leaving businesses wondering about the next viable strategy. In this blog, we delve into the essence of what you are really selling when you make that initial customer call – is it a product, a solution, or a relationship?

Product Selling: Showing Up and Throwing Up Product selling is often characterized by the one-sided presentation of features and benefits. The focus is on pushing the product onto the customer, hoping that it will somehow meet their needs. However, in today’s market, customers are savvy and skeptical, and such tactics may leave them disinterested or turned off.

Solution Selling: Unveiling Benefits The approach of solution selling involves understanding the customer’s pain points and presenting the product as a solution to their specific problems. It’s about highlighting the benefits that the customer would gain by using the product. While better than product selling, it still lacks a personalized touch that resonates deeply with the customer.

Relationship Selling: The Power of Trust Building a relationship with the customer is the most effective and sustainable approach. It involves taking the time to know your audience, their needs, and the genesis of their challenges. When you build trust and familiarity, customers feel valued and understood, leading to genuine interest in engaging with your business.

The Foundation of Relationship-Selling Engagement

  1. Know Your Audience: Understand who your target customers are, what drives them, and what problems they face.
  2. Identify the Problem: Clearly define the issue your product or service solves. This is not just about the surface problem but digging deeper to grasp its roots.
  3. Empathize with the Customer’s Journey: Recognize how your potential customers search for solutions, learn about them, and set their expectations for the fulfilment process.
  4. Shift Cognitive Biases: Often, customers don’t know what they don’t know. Earning a relationship allows you to help them understand the value you bring.

Building Strong Customer Relationships: Points to Consider

  1. Be Fully Present: Avoid multitasking during interactions with customers. Give them your undivided attention.
  2. Listen Actively: Focus on hearing what the customer is saying rather than formulating your reply.
  3. Be Curious: Show genuine interest in learning more about your customers’ needs and challenges.
  4. Ask Open-Ended Questions: Encourage meaningful discussions by asking questions that require more than a simple “yes” or “no.”
  5. Let Conversations Flow Naturally: Avoid forced sales pitches and let ideas and stories unfold naturally.
  6. Inject Humor and Authenticity: Build rapport by using humor appropriately and being genuine.
  7. Admit When You Don’t Know: It’s okay not to have all the answers. Customers appreciate honesty.
  8. Follow Through on Commitments: Deliver on promises made to build trust and reliability.
  9. Organize Your Engagement: Provide structure to the conversation while allowing flexibility.
  10. Respect and Empathize: Treat every customer with respect and be sensitive to their unique circumstances.
  11. Avoid Judgments: Stay open-minded and refrain from making assumptions about your customers.

In the evolving world of business, the key to success lies in building meaningful relationships with customers. Understanding their needs, communicating authentically, and earning trust can make all the difference. So, as you make that initial call to a potential customer, remember that what you are selling is not just a product or a solution – it’s the beginning of a long-lasting relationship.

To listen to to the radio discussion

Building an International Brand: Uniting Big and Small Businesses

Building an International Brand: Uniting Big and Small Businesses

In the dynamic landscape of business, building an international brand is a dream for many companies. The potential to see their products showcased on global shelves is within reach, but achieving this goal requires a collaborative effort between big and small businesses. In this blog, we explore the key elements that pave the path towards international success

Unforgiving Consistency – The Cornerstone of Quality:

To establish a brand that transcends borders, unwavering quality is paramount. Customers worldwide seek products they can rely on, and that reliability stems from unforgiving consistency. This means ensuring that every unit leaving your premises meets the highest standards, with no compromise.

Proof – Demonstrating Reliability and Viability:

The global market demands more than mere claims. To conquer international shelves, your products must offer tangible proof of their worth. From functionality to serviceability, from production to supply, your offerings must showcase their capabilities. Providing solid evidence of your product’s performance is what sets you apart from the competition.

Story – Captivating the World’s Imagination:

Amidst the clamour of countless products, stories have the power to captivate and connect. Most brands have a rich tapestry of narratives to tell, stories that resonate with diverse audiences. These stories breathe life into products, forging an emotional bond with consumers worldwide. Embrace the power of storytelling to rise above the noise and create a lasting impact.

Scale – Delivering Beyond Expectations:

Global retailers demand products they can count on – products that can be delivered at scale. Meeting this criterion is essential for gaining their trust and loyalty. Furthermore, financial stability is vital to fund operations and navigate potential stock outs. By demonstrating your capability to scale, you position yourself as a reliable partner for international retailers.

Investment – Dedication that Drives Success:

Building an international brand demands significant investment – not just financially, but also in terms of time, commitment, and passion. Business owners must be willing to invest their heart and soul into this endeavor. Only then can they weather the challenges and complexities that come with expanding on a global stage.

A Challenge for Big Retailers and Dedicated SMEs:

For both established retailers and ambitious SMEs, building an international brand is a collective challenge that can be overcome through collaboration. Here’s a five-step approach to help  embark on this journey together:

  1. Identify Potential Categories:

Identify product categories where your local  offerings have the potential to replace imported products. Focusing on these niches will increase your chances of success.

  1. Set Clear Objectives:

Define the quality, volume, promotion, and pricing specifications necessary to compete with existing imported products. Clarity in your objectives will guide your path forward.

  1. Seek Dedicated SMEs:

Reach out to ten passionate and dedicated SMEs that have the desire to step onto the international stage. Collaborate with these businesses to create a robust support system.

  1. Progressive Contracts:

Formulate five-year progressive contracts with these SMEs. These agreements will enable both parties to evolve and adapt to changing market demands.

  1. Uphold Service Level Agreements (SLAs):

Throughout this partnership, never compromise on Service Level Agreements (SLAs). High standards and consistent delivery are the pillars of success.

Building an international brand is a journey that begins at home. The partnership between big retailers and committed SMEs is the driving force behind achieving this vision. By embracing quality, providing undeniable proof, telling captivating stories, demonstrating scalability, and investing wholeheartedly, domestic  businesses can rise above borders and shine on the global stage.

To listen to to the radio discussion click here

business leader

Business Leader: Inspiration from an onion – Reset and rebuild your business model to reignite growth

In this article, first published in Business Leader, Pavlo shares a simple tool – the onion – to think about your business, and identify your strategic focus.

Our inflationary, high-interest rate and low-growth economy will see companies with high overheads struggle to maintain the performance demanded by shareholders and executive bonus calculations.

As inflation and interest rates shrink local market value, access to established and new markets offer growth alternatives. Additionally, resetting and rebuilding a business model to increase productivity and performance will become a strategic imperative.

Market access

Expect mounting challenges accessing foreign markets. Brexit increased expenses and obstacles to trade with our closest £300 billion market. The array of ratified trade agreements might offer alternatives, such as the recently trumpeted CPTPP trade agreement which is worth a theoretical £37bn. Our challenges will be many. Our strengthening currency, significant differences in labour costs, and rapidly closing gaps in digitisation and technology competitiveness all weigh in. For products, add the cost of inputs and transport, set to increase further as we comply with our laudable commitments to Net Zero and other climate-friendly policies and regulations. All add to the cost of doing business, making our products less affordable than alternatives. For instance, imagine the cost of competing with a chocolate manufacturer in Chile or Malaysia, where our labour and transport costs are higher, before factoring in compliance with legislation and policy.

To overcome these challenges, we must increase productivity significantly. And since 2008, we have struggled to get this right! It can and will be done by those leaders intent on preserving their company value and remaining steadfast in growth despite all our economic ailments.

One way to get this right is to take a lesson from the simplest of vegetables: the onion.

Reset and rebuild your business model to reignite growth

An onion has three layers – the sweet inner; tangy middle; and outer protective skin. Applying this metaphor to your company offers up many opportunities.

Your inner layer is about understanding what is core and strategic to your survival, growth, and domination. You must own, deepen and protect these elements. Your middle layer includes everything non-core but strategic to the business. Outsource these elements to reliable partners on medium-term contracts. Your outer layer comprises everything non-core and non-strategic, where products or services are commoditised, and price wins the deal.

We recently used the onion to reset and rebuild a business intelligence company we work with. At its inner core, it must excel in analytics, interpretation, design, and presentation. It must own its software and skills in analysis and presentation. Its middle layer requires hardware, connectivity, and brand and marketing service providers. They are strategic but non-core to success. We established medium-term partnerships with providers whose services are their core strategic foci and intent. Their outer layer includes stationery, accommodation, refreshments, and other non-core, non-strategic products and services.

Today, they enjoy several benefits. A honed, simplified understanding of what matters most to grow and dominate their industry increased their productivity and market responsiveness. It has also allowed leadership to spend almost 70% of their time leading growth instead of managing operations. The company’s newfound growth has come increasingly from big and corporate clients. Out of necessity, these corporates have had to equally tighten their foci and shed costs by outsourcing previously insourced services such as business intelligence.

As business leaders, our company growth will increasingly come from excelling at how we position, win and lock in our services as middle-layer onion specialists.

Business exits

This Week@Work: Purpose vs Intent

This Week@Work Pavlo shares his experience with a group of passionate business owners to illustrate the difference between purpose and intent.

The idealism of our purpose drives us to invest in our businesses day after day after day. The pragmatism of intent is important if we are to ultimately reward those years of investment, sacrifice and risk.

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