Business owners who find their growth slowing down often ask themselves how they can achieve a breakthrough to catapult their business to success.
As Albert Einstein said, we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
From a business point of view, what this translates to is, the thinking that got your business to where it is today, isn’t the same thinking that will get your business to where you want it to be tomorrow.
In this blog post, I’ve explained the thinking business owners need to embrace if they want to achieve a business breakthrough which will help them achieve exponential growth.
Incremental Improvements Versus Business Breakthroughs
Recently I attended a powerful mastermind with some of the world’s smartest marketers. One of the topics presented was on the difference between incremental improvements and achieving a breakthrough in business.
To explain the concept of incremental improvement in business, I want you to imagine that you’re walking up a long flight of stairs which represent business. Every now and then you might stop and have a bit of a breather, and then continue climbing until you reach the top.
In business terms, you’re incrementally climbing the stairs to the top. While you will eventually get there, the process is slow. There’s the threat of your competitors getting to the top before you do.
Now imagine if an elevator door suddenly appeared in front of you and could take you up to the next floor immediately or it could take you up 10 floors to the top. If you jumped in the elevator to get to the top, it would equate to a breakthrough for your business.
Business Breakthrough Activities
I’ll now share a couple of examples that you might want to think about when analysing your business and making decisions about what you should be spending time on and more importantly, what you should not be spending time on.
To explain this a little more clearly, let’s take an example of an incremental improvement. You’re working alone in your business and want to work harder to improve business performance. So you decide you’re going to spend a lot more time working at the office.
You could work a lot faster, thinking, “I’m going to just have a lot of coffee and I’m going to work really, really fast and I’m going to get lots done and then I can make a bit more money.” That’s all well and good. You might improve 10% to 20% at the most. So it’s only an incremental improvement and not what you were looking for.
In all honesty, we don’t like spending more time working than we need to, especially working under stressful conditions and being under the pressure of completing tasks to a deadline.
Instead, if you hired an employee who can produce the same output as you…I know they can’t do it all the time because generally as the business owner you can do things best…but let’s just say they can increase your output by 100%.
What if they only increased output by 80%? That is still a huge improvement. You’re not working longer hours. You’re not working any faster or harder and you’re not under any more pressure. So that is a breakthrough.
Having one product and trying to improve on it. You might have a really good widget that you’re out there and you’re selling, and you decide that you want to make the best widget in the world and you want to sell more of them.
Instead of doing that, because that’s really an incremental improvement, you can make it a little bit better, maybe create a better customer experience, whatever it does. Unless your business really sucks, unless your product really sucks there’s really not much need to do that. Instead, if you add another product which complements the first one that other people can buy, that’s an instant rise in profits and sales.
You want to think about breakthroughs as opposed to the incremental of trying to improve on something a little bit. I’m not saying that we don’t want to strive to do better. I’m always striving to do better in everything that I do.
However, when it comes to making the decision between where I’m going to invest my time, I always choose to choose to invest it in looking for the breakthroughs, rather than incremental improvements.
Investing for Business Breakthroughs
Yet another situation is how you invest your profits. Do you invest all your profits back into the business? Maybe it’s a relatively new business and you’re not spending much time to go on a holiday or other leisure pursuits because you would rather invest all that money back into the business to grow it faster.
Yes, you will grow the business faster, and I’ve done that many times as well. What I’ve discovered though is, if you raised capital to purchase another business that is strategic to your existing business, you can add a lot of value to existing customers, and gain a whole new audience for your products or services. That is what I call a multiplier breakthrough.
Hopefully, you’re starting to get the picture now. Here’s where it gets even more interesting. Business breakthroughs aren’t limited to marketing your products and services alone. You can apply similar thinking to staff efficiency as well.
Staff Productivity Breakthroughs
Spending time and money learning how to do something such as learning how to make a better widget or build a better website is again incremental thinking. Instead of hiring someone with these skills to walk in and do the task is a breakthrough solution.
As the business owner, your goal should not be to know everything. Your goal should be to hire people that are smarter than you within your business that can take control and do things that result in growing your business.
I know it can be a little bit daunting to give up power and control to your staff, but this is how successful businesses grow. These business owners hire people that are smarter or more talented than them in different areas and it makes their lives a lot easier as well.
When people can take tasks off your plate, they can run with it without having to rely on you feeding them, hand to mouth, consistently telling them to do this or do that. It relieves a great deal of pressure and it frees up your time as well.
Working on creating better systems for staff to be more efficient is an incremental gain. I know it goes against a lot of rules of business in saying that you should have really good systems for your staff and I believe that you should. However, if you have automated systems where tasks can be completed without staff intervention, then that is a breakthrough as well.
If you can automate emails, use chatbots for support, or design processes so that you have less need for support staff, then you have achieved a breakthrough.
Breakthroughs in Your Online Marketing
A common mistake which many business owners make is relying on a single source of website traffic in their online marketing.
Maybe your marketing is focused on Google AdWords and you want to invest more money and spend more time optimising the campaign to improve results. Yes you can do that to a point and make it more profitable, but after a while, it becomes less effective.
So where’s the breakthrough here? It’s adding another layer or a new channel of traffic to the mix. For example, you can initiate a Facebook ads campaign or a LinkedIn ads campaign. You could consider doing video marketing. That is going to be a breakthrough for you as opposed to incremental traffic gains from an existing channel.
Besides, you never ever want to have one traffic source because it’s like having a one legged table. If you’re relying on Google Adwords, and Google decides to change the rules and your business does not comply anymore, your sales could come crashing overnight.
It’s why in business circles, you’ll often hear people say, that the most dangerous number is the Number One.
Achieving Profitability Breakthroughs
A fundamental mistake I see business owners make is increasing sales when it does not necessarily increase profits. Instead, think of the other options you have. You can go upstream, by thinking about where your clients are before they come to you. If you’re building websites, then before they came to you they’ve probably got a domain name. So if you go upstream to the domain name company and partner with them, you’ve just cut out all of your competition.
Using this approach, you’re essentially only competing with yourself. Think about whether you fish in a different pond for customers because that is a breakthrough, as opposed to an incremental gain of trying to consistently look a little bit better or position your product a little bit better. A breakthrough is going to be a completely different place where there is no competition.
Business Breakthrough Exercise
Here’s an exercise you can do right now.
Write down three things that you think would be a breakthrough in your business. Is the breakthrough raising capital to acquire a strategic business that would multiply your business? Is it in taking your marketing upstream, not trying to compete with everyone else in the market but going upstream to partner with people who already have a database of your ideal clients?
What are the breakthroughs that you could implement in your business? There is always an opportunity cost. You have the opportunity of doing an incremental activity or you have the opportunity of doing the breakthrough. Which one would you rather do?
Would you be satisfied with a 20% improvement in achieving your business and lifestyle goals or a 200% increase, allowing you to live the lifestyle you always wanted?
Once you’ve got that down, write down what you need to stop doing to cause this breakthrough.
The other question is what do you need to do or start doing to cause this breakthrough to happen? What you need to stop doing is very important because you need to stop doing something to free up time to be able to do something else. That’s the opportunity cost. As you can see, you obviously need to do something different to get the result you desire.
If you found this information useful and would like to explore how you could achieve breakthroughs in your business, please free to contact me and together we’ll explore the most appropriate approach to help you achieve your business goals.