Stop Being Your Own Bottleneck

Wondering where one of the biggest bottlenecks in business first occurs? And how to eliminate it? Scalability is one key factor that determines a business and how it grows.

I’ve attended tons of conferences, networking events, and mastermind events, and found one thing in common among a great many of the entrepreneurs that I’ve met there. They have a great idea that they’ve turned into a great business. But…

…they’ve reached a bottleneck, where further growth becomes increasingly difficult, or even impossible. A fitness coach who started working for the joy of helping others, but who is now feeling crushed under the weight of too many clients, and an inability to expand any further. A restaurant owner who wants to open more restaurants, but is at a loss about how to do so. A business owner who quickly went from five to 40 employees, but who is now overwhelmed and cannot figure out how to develop his company.

There are two main reasons for this, which I will be exploring in two separate articles. The first issue is one of scalability—the ability to continuously keep growing a company, from a small start-up to a large business. Too many entrepreneurs don’t really think about this enough; they just assume that the company will grow organically—that it is a gradual process—which is not the case at all. And because they didn’t plan for it, when their business reaches a certain point, they reach a bottleneck.

There are many excuses for this:

I didn’t get into this for the money, I got into it to help others. That’s wonderful, it’s great that you have that desire to help others. But you know what? If you really want to help more people, you need more money! So long as you are your own bottleneck, you will never be able to help more than a handful of clients, and the quality of what you offer will decrease as you become more and more busy trying to handle everything. You need to understand that while you are not motivated by a need to make a lot of money, making money is still a prerequisite to growing your business beyond a certain point. Do you want to help 10 people? Or 100? Or 1,000? Or 1 million?

Build a business model where you are the key decision maker, but others are able to do everything necessary to implement your decisions.

Nobody else can do what I do. Nonsense. Get over yourself. If you gave other people the opportunity, and the training, there are others who could do what you do, some of them could probably even do it better! It is your ego which is holding you back. You have a choice—have a mediocre business that can never grow beyond a certain point, but keep your ego; or accept that others can do it, build up a cohesive business, and grow to whatever size you want.

There isn’t a way to grow my business. If you believe this, you suffer either from ignorance of the options available to you, or a dreadful lack of creativity. Look at any industry out there, and you can find examples of people who’ve successfully turned their business into something larger than themselves.

So now you see why it is important from the very beginning to plan for a business that is scalable. Sure, during the first one or two years, there will be a lot that is dependent on you; but you should be planning to make yourself less essential as quickly as possible. For every single task that you do, start training other people to do the same thing. Of course, initially, they may not do it as quickly or as well as you, but they’ll learn; and later, when your business is bigger, they’ll be ready to step in and take on those roles. Build a business model where you are the key decision maker, but others are able to do everything necessary to implement your decisions.

From the very beginning, build comprehensive systems such as step-by-step manuals that cover every aspect of your business. Sure, you know how to do it. But as you grow, you’re going to be bringing in more people and giving out more responsibilities. Finally, look at companies in your industry that are larger and more successful than yours. Look at how they’ve gotten to where they are, and what they do differently from what you are doing.

There is a caveat here—if your business is something that you do simply for personal edification, and you have no desire to ever grow it any larger, that is fine…and you can ignore everything above. But if you have even a modicum of ambition to grow your business (to make more money, to help more people, to have more security/freedom, or whatever other motivation you may have), then scalability is absolutely essential, and you need to be planning for it from the very beginning.