As a business coach, the thing I hear most from new clients is that they’ve hit a ceiling in their business and need some guidance on how to get to that elusive next level.
That fact is, the skills, experience and knowledge you’ve gained throughout your life, education and initial business journey will only get you so far. At some point, the strategies that worked so well up until now will become less effective. You’ll need to build upon them in order to reach that little bit further.
It’s an idea explored by Marshall Goldsmith in his best-selling book, aptly titled, ‘What Got You Here Won’t Get You There’. While his messages are mostly aimed at those seeking to climb the final rungs of the corporate ladder, the general premise still holds up within the entrepreneurial environment.
Inspired by this concept, I’ve rounded up the seven most effective strategies from my career as a business mentor to help business owners tangle with that new-level devil.
Strategy one: Push yourself to leave your comfort zone
Running a business can make you feel like you are constantly bumping up against your limits – not many of us realise what it takes to start and grow a business when we set out on that path.
My best business advice? Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. If you want to realise the potential in your business, you’ll need to keep setting those BHAGs (big hairy audacious goals) alongside your SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely). It’s reaching (what feels like) a little bit too far that is going to make all the difference.
Getting out and networking, building your authority and public image, even just daring to think bigger about your business – these things might feel scary at first, but today’s challenge is tomorrow’s skill.
Strategy two: Act, learn, build, repeat
There’s a certain experimental mind-set required for building a business. As a business mentor, I coach clients to approach new strategies using the following process:
- take a new action
- test and learn from the results of that action
- build that learning into the next strategy
- repeat the process
It sounds simple, but so many business owners become risk averse – after all, it’s their livelihood on the line. But making small investments in new strategies (sometimes taking a calculated risk in the process) is the essence of being an entrepreneur. It’s a well-trodden path towards business growth.
Strategy three: Focus on your customers
In my time as a business coach, I have learned that this strategy cannot be emphasised enough. Building your business around servicing your customers’ needs always gets the best results. This idea applies to everything you do: the products and services you offer, the way you talk to customers, how you reach them – the entire customer experience must be designed to delight the people you serve. How do you find out how to do that? Research: observe the way they do business with you and, above all, talk to them – there is no better way.
Related article: Find out how a focus on customer experience drives business growth
Strategy four: Make a commitment to life-long learning
It’s easy to get caught up ‘doing’ and forget that education doesn’t end when you leave school. Additionally, with a constant stream of new ideas on how best to do business and how to adapt to the ever-changing business landscape, it can be easy to get overwhelmed and choose to just keep your head down in your day-to-day.
I mentor my clients to break self-education into bite-sized chunks: just choose one area of your business knowledge that you would like to improve and slowly chip away at it until you feel confident to move onto the next one.
Luckily, no matter what your learning style or budget, there are so many ways to access content; YouTube channels, podcasts, blogs, books, webinars and online courses are all great ways to get started.
Related article: Discover how you can close the learning/doing gap
Strategy five: Learn to let go
As your business grows, you will quickly discover that trying to do everything yourself is not only the fastest route to burnout, it will also put serious limits on your ability to scale.
Delegating tasks can seem difficult at first. It may be that you are so used to juggling all the balls that you think if you let one go, the whole lot will tumble down. Or maybe you can’t even figure out which tasks are the right ones to hand over and which to hold onto. Here’s the key: as you become a leader in your business, you need to focus on business growth activities – working on your business not just in it.
Strategy six: Stop the leaks in your productivity
There are only so many hours in a day (and, no, you can’t spend all of them working!). Once you’ve delegated what you can, you’re only next option for growth is to increase your productivity. Streamlining systems, automation, making good use of technology, structuring your time and setting good boundaries are your friends.
Related article: Grab our hot tips for getting more out of less time
Strategy seven: Don’t try to go it alone
Now, you might say that (as a business coach) I would say this, but running a business doesn’t have to be such a lonely path. Finding your inner circle, your business mentors, can often be a real game changer. These are the people who will offer you the support, advice, encouragement and act as the sounding board you need to make your business successful.
Hiring a business coach brings all the other strategies listed above together in one handy package. Your coach will have the experience, knowledge, frameworks and contacts that can help take a more direct path to that next level.
Related article: It doesn’t have to be lonely at the top
Putting that next-level success within reach
If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always had. Nowhere is this adage more true than in the business world. If you want to take your business in a new direction (preferably upwards), then you’re going to have to shake things up a bit and try some new strategies. The seven strategies outlined above should get you off to a roaring start. Going up!