Note: Listen to this post instead using the audio player below, and consider subscribing on your favorite podcast player!
One of the most disheartening problems that entrepreneurs face is slow progress.
The feeling that you’re giving it all, sacrificing so much, and working an unhealthy number of hours – only to discover that you really haven’t seem to have gone that far.
This is discouraging and hard to swallow, even for the most confident of entrepreneurs. Slow business growth can crush our motivation, and cause us to wonder whether it’s even worth continuing to push on. Why try so hard if ultimately, it doesn’t seem to be amounting to anything?
For better or for worse, this is a common problem that many entrepreneurs experience at one point or another, which means there’s been a lot of discussion on how to get past this mental hurdle.
If you’re about to have a breakdown because your company’s progress seems slow, don’t worry. In this article, I’ll cover my best advice.
1. Expand The Time Frame – Track Progress Quarterly
There’s a reason that big companies focus so heavily on quarterly results. For most companies, this time period is just the right length. Any longer, and everything will seem too far away to feel urgent or close. Any shorter, and a wide variety of other factors can skew your results in an undesirable manner (such as a major client placing an order, an unexpected bill, etc.)
As entrepreneurs, we tend to focus heavily on immediate results. We’re excited to move our companies forward, and the impatience of doing so can cripple us.
Sadly, the day-to-day, or even month-to-month numbers do not always paint an accurate picture.
Not to mention, some of the work that you do may take months to manifest tangible results. And when those results do finally show up, they tend to grow exponentially.
There are so many variables that go into running companies and it may not even be possible to track all of the reasons why certain numbers may be temporarily up or down.
Expand the time frame, and begin placing more importance on quarterly results – it will save your sanity.
2. Ensure What You’re Doing Has Been Proven To Work
I have a philosophy that I live by, and it has never failed me:
If you’re doing something that’s proven to work, any progress is good progress. Even if you take only a single step each day, you will eventually get to where you want to be.
It’s why I only share strategies on my website, YouTube channel and courses that are proven to work in most, if not all industries.
When charting in unproven territory, you are taking a gamble and hoping that whatever you’re doing will work. When you focus on proven strategies, it’s only a matter of time.
That’s not to say everything is smooth sailing, or that you won’t have to tweak your strategy – only that you likely are on the right path, even if it doesn’t feel like it.
It is vital that you validate your business idea quickly, preferably to the point where you are actually collecting money from interested customers.
From there, it is only a matter of using proven strategies to scale.
3. Ensure You’re Tracking The Right Metrics
How can you be sure whether or not you’re making progress if you’re not sure what to track?
Many entrepreneurs focus all of their effort boosting vanity metrics – things like page views or Instagram likes, without realizing that these are near useless to measure actual business growth.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t pay attention to them or celebrate their growth, but in reality, there are far more important things that matter.
Some metrics worth tracking include, but are not limited to:
- Actual profit
- Customer acquisition cost
- Email list engagement
- Email list growth
- Sales page conversion rates
- Operating expense ratio
Remember that you’re in business to make money. It is extremely important to track the metrics that directly lead to profit.
4. Bring In Outside Knowledge
If things are truly stagnant, it may be time to bring in some outside knowledge.
This doesn’t have to be in the form of a coach or mentor (despite the numerous benefits one can offer to your company.) Even purchasing a cheap book or course can introduce new ideas that can jump start growth in a positive direction.
I believe that if you can even take away just one thing from a course or book, then the time and money invested into it are well worth it. That knowledge can never be taken away from you, and will benefit you over the course of your entire life.
It’s very powerful.
When it feels like you’re stuck, new ideas on how to approach things may give you the inspiration and excitement you need to push things forward. Just remember not to try everything suggested to you – only those things that make sense for this stage of your business!
5. Reflect On How Far You’ve Come, And Look For Positives
When you’re so focused on where you want to go, it’s very easy to forget how far you’ve already come.
Even if you’re already tracking quarterly results, take it back a step further. Look at progress from a year ago, or even from when your business started. Look at how much better things are (even if some areas feel worse), and look at how much you’ve grown.
Regardless of where you’re at now, you have lessons and experience that you didn’t have when you began. This will only make it easier to succeed in the future.
The positives are not always tangible or direct either. Believe it or not, at one point the simple fact that the company spending was improving my personal credit score provided some sort of meaning to what (at the time) felt like endless suffering.
When you can take any positives at all from your hard work, pushing on to see even more positive results only becomes easier.
This Is Largely A Psychological Issue
Fortunately, the feelings of inadequacy or dissatisfaction that come from (what feels like) slow business progress is largely psychological.
This is especially true if you are in fact making progress – any progress.
Remember, slower yet steady progress will always be better than quick bursts of progress, followed by long periods of stagnation.
Chances are, you’re on the right track – even if it doesn’t feel like it.
Still, these negative feelings that may have driven you to click on this article on the first place are likely slowing you down further.
Unhappy, pessimistic, or generally negative entrepreneurs suffer poorer results. Even if the number of work hours remain the same, creativity drops, production drops, and in all, the business is likely to perform at less than its potential.
The opposite is also true – entrepreneurs who are fired up, excited, and positive will do better, work more productively, make better decisions, and get more done without burning out.
It’s incredible how much of a difference it can make.
I’ve put together a course specifically on this extremely important topic of building a mindset for success. It compiles everything I’ve learned studying the world’s most successful and driven people, all into one powerful resource.
This isn’t a course on motivation, though. I’ve packed it full of practical, useful tips and strategies that you can immediately apply to your business and to your life.
You can learn more about it by clicking here.
While I’m very sorry to hear that your company’s growth has been slower than you’d hoped, I’m optimistic that things will get better.
Companies take time to develop, and remaining patient and disciplined while your business is growing can be incredibly difficult. I understand, because I’ve been there at numerous points myself.
I hope that this article has given you some ideas on how to approach things going forward. If you’d like to talk or you have anything to add, I’d love to hear from you.
To your success,
– James McAllister
Many become perplexed when their business goes slow. Yes, sometimes it can be frightening, but it can be resolved. The tips you outline makes sense, and are so practical. Tracking the right metrics is one of the but ways to fix it and also using a strategy that is proven to work or already working. But I will also want to add that, identify the root course of the slow growth can make all the difference.
You’re absolutely right, if there is a tangible reason that the business is moving slowly, it’s so important to identify and take steps to remedy the situation straight away. This is why it’s so important to pay attention to everything and look for changes – often times, it’s something obvious holding growth back!
James McAllister recently posted…Shure SM7B Microphone Review (For Podcasters And Content Creators)
It took me over a year to really track my time and how it turned to money, etc. It also had to be outsourced and figured which pieces of the pie to be outsourced to make the most sense.
Thanks for the tips and ideas here to make it easier James. I’ve thought of getting a mentor but just when I did things picked back up again 🙂 But it’s on the radar for the future!
I’m glad to hear that you’re doing that now, as it’s so easy to waste time on things that really don’t generate any meaningful return. It’s only through tracking things and looking through the data that we learn where the best place to allocate our resources lies – both time, and money.
Anything that we can outsource for a cheaper cost than what we earn, we should! This is especially true if it’s something that can be scaled. Outsourcing has been key to the growth of my companies these past few years.
Wishing you the best and if there’s ever anything that I can help with, let me know!
James McAllister recently posted…8 Important Benefits A Business Coach / Mentor Can Offer You
Wait and watch should be the approach when business gets slow.
Patience and paying attention are definitely two very important things!
James McAllister recently posted…8 Gadgets That Will Make Your Entrepreneurial Life More Enjoyable
Wonderful tips here James,
I especially resonate with “looking back to see how much you’ve improved” tip. This always helps me as when I started I could barely string sentences in English and my early writing is truly cringe-worthy to me.
Second tip I like is that it’s mostly psychological. Our amphibian parts of the brain love to predict how things are going to fail but their animal survival instinct is wrong here.
Building a business is a risk but it’s not a constant life threatening situation. And as long a you can clearly visualize where you want to go and you make progress daily, even one step at the time, you will get to where you want to be.
Hey Nikola! Don’t worry, my first writing was also cringe-worthy – and I grew up speaking English hahaha.
I very much agree with your message here. Even small progress is still progress. It’s all about remaining consistent – and making every day impactful. It’s amazing how quickly things can grow when you continuously work hard!
James McAllister recently posted…8 Gadgets That Will Make Your Entrepreneurial Life More Enjoyable
Great tactics your share in this article, I think learn from little failures, and earn the experience then put on those experience in your business you will be successful one day.
Thanks for sharing!
Thank you! You’re absolutely right and that is a great way to think about things.
James McAllister recently posted…Content-Based Businesses – The Key To True Freedom
I think that much time comes in every business then we do not progress at that time…but at this time we do not hold our learning try to learn more things in business then the time comes, our business is growing easily because on at that time we do not panic.
Nice writing skills, thanks for this article.
Well said! What’s important is that we stay focused and keep pushing forward. The results will manifest with time, as long as we’re following the right strategy!
James McAllister recently posted…Link Whisper Review: How I Built 811 New Internal Links With Link Whisper