What's The One Thing That Changes Everything?

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you just can’t break through? 

You’ve been grinding away, working harder and longer, but you don’t feel like you’re making progress.  

I’ve seen this issue so many times.

Recently I was speaking with a business owner who was really under the cosh. A key staff member had been on maternity leave and it had altered the dynamics in the business. A lot of work that was normally dealt with by the staff member was now flowing back through the business owner.

On top of that, they were also trying to recruit a Practice Manager (PM) and the owner had to lead that project as well. 

When I spoke to them, they’d sort of reached maximum capacity. 

What’s the real issue?

I could list example after example of challenging business issues that owners face as they try to grow their businesses. 

But the challenges themselves are not the real issue. From my experience…

…there’s only one issue you need to crack open if you want to break through to the next level. 

And I don’t mean I’m about to tell you what that one issue is because it can be different for every business. But if you can identify the ‘one major blockage’ and get it sorted, you’ll open the floodgates to growth.

Crack this one issue

In my example of the harried business owner above, their one thing is to find and successfully onboard the new Practice Manager. 

Until that happens, they’ll continue to juggle too much work and do none of it particularly well (it’s not possible to perform when you’re under that level of pressure).

In his book Traction: Get A Grip On Your Business, Gino Wickman recommends having between 3 and 7 goals for the year and a similar number of goals or Rocks for each quarter. 

What we’ve found in our consulting work is that less is more. (A lot less, in fact)

As Jim Collins says in his book Good To Great:  “If you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any,”

In the business plans I see as part of my Uncover Your Business Potential programme, there are always too many ‘priorities’ in the first draft version. By definition, something can’t be a priority if it’s listed with 20 other things that are supposedly a priority too.

What are the single most important issues to crack?

If you’re feeling stuck and you’ve been pushing too hard for too long you need to identify the one issue that, if you can crack it, will let you get to another level of business performance. 

And with a bit of thought, you can do that. Here are three issues that I see blocking a major next step for many firms. They’re not the only issues, but they come up a lot:

Issue 1: Get your team sorted

If you don’t have a functioning team around you, you’re going nowhere fast. 

It doesn’t matter in which part of the team there’s a gap. You might not have the right administrator, or paraplanner, or adviser in place. Any weakness in any of these roles is a blockage that has to be fixed. 

Train someone, fire someone or hire someone, but fix it.

When you don’t have the team right, work starts landing back on your desk to check or correct and you become the blockage. It’s horrible to see and even worse if you’re the business owner being affected.

So do whatever it takes to get the right team in place. Tick over as best you can until you do, but make finding the right team members your sole focus. Even if it takes you 12 months or 2 years to sort out, stick with it and don’t let it drop from number one most urgent status. 

Once you get it right, you can run at 100 miles an hour. If you try to run before you sort it, you’ll be running with a truck tyre tied around your waist.

Issue 2: Simplify

Simplify your service to clients.

Do a lot less.

As I’ve written about many times before, at your review meetings there are only two things you need to do:

  1. Show the client that everything is going to be alright (and if it’s not going to be alright, tell them what to do about it).
  2. Politely remind the client what you’ve done for them lately (your value-added).

Doing that is really, really simple. It doesn’t require loads of reports and paperwork.

Stop throwing the kitchen sink at your clients because you don’t know which parts of your service resonate. 

When you strip out the inessential you can simplify the processes that support the service, free up time for your existing team and dramatically increase your capacity.

Issue 3: Master your marketing

Some firms have cracked everything. Their service is great and they have the capacity to handle more work but they just can’t fill the hopper with on-target prospects. 

As a result, they fill their days with ‘stuff’. There’s always plenty of ‘stuff’ to do if you let it take up your time. However, if you’re sitting there thinking you’ve got spare capacity then you need to focus your time and effort on mastering your marketing. 

And make no mistake, great marketing takes time and effort. If you’re a great business but haven’t cracked this one thing, you’ll forever underperform.

In summary

If you want your business to take a jump to a new level of performance, find the one issue that’s your biggest blockage and focus all of your energy on solving it. 

Don’t let up until it’s done and don’t try to drive several other projects forward at the same time. Counterintuitively, working on multiple priorities just slows your progress.

Crack the one big issue.

Let me know how you go.

Related: Say ‘No’ To Good, So You Can Say ‘Yes’ To Great