What are business plateaus?
Most business owners will at one time or another find that they experience a business plateau. This term refers to a period of stagnation or static results.
This is most commonly identified in the management reports, or profit and loss statement at the end of sequential time periods i.e. comparison of this year’s results versus last year’s results.
It’s important to spot, as unless challenged, it can easily become a bit of a bad habit. The reality is often that whilst your own business is stalling, your competitors are advancing.
I doubt many if indeed any of you, set up your business with the ambition of being average or merely ‘stable’; much more likely you had ambitions to be great and achieve both personal and professional goals from it.
Moving from a period of stagnation to one of progress and growth is not easy to change, as with all bad habits, but there are role models and lessons we can all learn from outside the world of business to help.
What can Olympians teach us for overcoming business plateaus?
To become the best in the world means adopting some strong personal ethics and habits around self-improvement, and it is these habits that business owners can learn from most of all.
Sportsmanship, persistence, resilience, discipline, self-awareness, reflection, practice, and hard work all play a part in the development of an elite athlete. These same factors also separate the best business owners from the average.
Where are the most common plateau points, and how can you avoid them?
When businesses are started, most of the new business owners recognise that there is a need for rapid learning, and a period of trial and error to establish the base model for working.
Plateauing can happen after this initial rush to build a functional business. The initial motivators of fear, cash shortages, and a sense of potential failure recede. Once they are absent, many business owners will begin to accept the basic functionality as the zenith of performance. They are now making enough money to cover the bills, pay the staff etcetera, and this feels like achievement and success after the launch mania.
This removal of impending doom however is not the same as achieving growth or potential. Identifying and targeting goals that go beyond the avoidance of distress is one of the important next steps.
The future olympian is deciding that they want to up their game and step beyond the amateur league levels.
Talent and ability alone are not enough
One common action that many athletes and sports people take in order to go beyond the amateur league is to engage a professional coach to help them. This is because they realise that talent alone will only get them so far. Accessing wisdom, experience, and knowledge bases that extend beyond their functional practice to date is vital to accelerating progress, and minimising misfires of effort.
Plateaus indicate a period of non-improvement, which can be a result of an ageing of knowledge, a repetition rather than an advancement of thinking, or a simple loss of motivation to keep pushing for better. Recognising, and challenging, these aspects is vital to achieving the concept of Kaizen.
Kaizen is a Japanese word that refers to a status of never-ending improvement; where at least one thing is better today than yesterday. This is something many sports people draw on, and so should business owners.
How does a coach create a change in business results?
A professional coach helps the athlete (and the business owner equivalent) to:
- Clarify their objectives
- Boost their motivation for delivering on their potential
- Support their knowledge and skill advancement.
For sports this is game strategy, role clarity, fitness, nutrition, physiology, and more.
In business this is often the expansion of knowledge beyond the operations of doing a job, or understanding the industry subjects at a lived experience level, into the broader requirements of business strategy, marketing, sales, financials, team development, and systemisation. A good coach drives planning, strategy and business owner attitudes and behaviour.
"They take the amateur job owner to the professional business commander."
In simple terms, if you want to have an Olympic standard business, you need to hire a coach. It’s what makes the difference.
Remember, it is the professionals who have a coach, whilst the amateurs are still trying to work it out on their own!