Why Do So Many Businesses Get Stuck On A Plateau?

As a chief executive or founder, you may recognise this position. You have had a period of rapid growth, but now things are slowing down. It’s getting harder and harder to make progress. It’s starting to feel like two steps forward, two steps back. You seem to be stuck in the “Just Good Enough” zone; in a good year results are, well, just good enough. But it only takes a small upset – loss of a large customer, a difficult economy – and it’s panic.

This is a confusing and disorienting place. You aren’t doing anything obviously wrong. In fact you are doing exactly the things that made you successful up to this point. And doing more of them, longer, faster and harder. But somehow they don’t produce the results you are looking for any more.

Tensions may be rising in the management team. Everybody has a different idea of what the problem is and what you need to do. It’s becoming harder and harder to agree on anything. The blame game is starting.

It doesn’t have to be like this

The good news is that, if you have been able to bring your business to the start of the plateau, you have everything you need to take it to the next level. The plateau is a very common phenomenon and, whatever business you are in, the reasons are very similar.

The solution is subtle, but really simple

The answer to the problem seems utterly mysterious. But that’s only until you see it, when it becomes completely obvious.

You don’t need to work any harder at what you’re doing. In fact, working harder is probably making things worse.

You don’t need to learn anything new. You already know how to do just about everything you need to do.

You need to unlearn, to stop doing some of what you have been doing. The reason that your business is plateaued is that the way you are running it, the beliefs, habits and methods that have made you successful up to this point, have become the very things that are holding you back. You need to let go of some of them.

Letting go is the hardest thing to do

It’s hard because you need to step outside yourself to see what you’re doing. As one of my associates put it brilliantly “you can’t read the label from inside the bottle.”

You could say that it is like trying to eat your own mouth. Or to look at your own eyeballs. But that last metaphor contains the solution. If you want to see your own eyes, you need a mirror. You need an external view of what you are doing.

You need an external view of what you are doing

Unaided, your chances of seeing how you are holding yourself back, at least before the business fails or you just get utterly sick of it, are minimal. With the right help, though, you can break through and escape from years of frustration in a matter of months.

If you are getting tired of life on the plateau and want to get moving again, contact me to discuss how I could help.

Alastair Dryburgh

I have been described on forbes.com as “the leading authority on strategies for resolving stuckness and reigniting growth.” For 14 years I have worked with software companies, creative agencies, manufacturing businesses and others helping them to realise their full potential.