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Ep #124 Find & fix The Bottlenecks Inside Your Small Business

March 12, 20247 min read

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Let’s talk about the bottlenecks inside your business! A bottleneck is the point (or points) where business slows down, it is the clog that stops your business from creating more growth. 

Give me the next couple of minutes and learn a simple tool you can use to pinpoint your biggest bottleneck (it isn’t always the one you think it is). This tool will be helpful regardless of the size of your business or your revenue levels. Once you know what your bottleneck is, you can focus your attention and energy where it will make the biggest impact in your business. Every business has a bottleneck and if you’re spending any time or resources on other things, instead of fixing this bottleneck, you are putting a bandaid on a wound that actually needs stitches.

Just like a drainpipe that has a blockage keeping the water from flowing effectively, your business also has blockages that keep it from growing to its full potential. The simplest way to spot a bottleneck is to look where you are spending the most time inside your business waiting. Where are you just sitting and waiting? That is where your bottleneck is. Things will pile up right in front of your current bottleneck.

The good news is, there are only four possible bottlenecks inside any business. And although it is possible to have more than one bottleneck at a time, there is only one that should be solved first.

When business owners come to me to help them with their business efficiency, one of the big challenges they share is that they are putting in tons of effort. They’re doing all the things, but they still aren’t getting the results they want.

When this happens. There is only one of two reasons:

You are either trying to solve the wrong problem, or you are solving too many things at once.

When it comes to fixing bottlenecks, the two biggest pitfalls business owners fall into is solving the wrong bottleneck and trying to solve multiple bottlenecks at the same time.

We’re usually wasting time on the wrong bottleneck because we made assumptions instead of looking at the data. Our emotions can fool us, but numbers never lie. 

To ensure that the right problem, or in this case, the right bottleneck gets your attention, we need to have metrics inside your business that we are tracking. Don’t go anywhere because I am going to tell you exactly which metrics you need to track in a minute).

If you do find yourself in a position where you have multiple bottlenecks, you always want to focus on unblocking one at a time. Turn the dial one variable at a time. We want to treat fixing things in our business like an experiment in a lab. You always have a “control” and you’re always only testing one thing at a time against the control. This is really important. You want to fix one thing at a time and be able to go back to the original version in case you need to. If you don’t you might not know that you actually broke something that didn’t need fixing in the first place.

So, how do we know what bottleneck requires our attention first?

With metrics.

A metric is a number or yes/no question that tells you whether something is moving along or not.

If you go to the doctor because you feel unwell, he or she will always check your pulse to see whether it is normal. If it isn’t, they know they need to investigate further.

The pulse is one of the metrics doctors track to make decisions about treatment.

In the same way, metrics  inside your business will give you a snapshot of what is going on in your business. It tells you when things are running smoothly or whether you need to investigate a little deeper. It also tells you WHERE you need to investigate. 

When it comes to metrics owners usually fall into two categories:

They don’t track any metrics. Usually because they aren’t sure what to track. 

Or they track too many which takes a lot of time to collect and analyse and in the end they’re not entirely sure what it all means or how they can use it to move their business forward.

It’s important to track metrics that matter. Metrics that help you make decisions quickly. Metrics that tell you something is wrong, in a moment. You don’t need flashing panels or complex algorithms. Your metrics should be simple. Measurable and comparable.

So, how do we know which metrics to track?

There are four distinct phases any business must complete in order to stay up and running. We call it the ACDC Framework.

That is, attract, convert, deliver, and collect. All businesses need these four elements. They might not all happen in the same order for everyone but they all need to be in the mix. 
Your business needs to attract prospects or potential customers, convert those prospects or leads into paying customers, deliver what you promised, and then collect payment for your services.

We need to have at least one metric for each category. Again, we don't have too many metrics. We want enough to give us a big picture overview of how things are going. The simpler, the better.

A metric can be a number, it can be a colour range, and it can also be a simple “is this thing happening yes or no?”

Attract - How many people see your offer? In order to sell something you need people who want what you have to SEE it. Or get to your sales vehicle? Your sales vehicle can be a sales call, an email, a free trial, a webinar). Choose a metric that will tell you whether you have enough people who see and enter your sales vehicle. In my business, the “attract” metric I am measuring is the number of consultations booked. I know exactly how many consultations I need to book every month in order to hit my revenue goals.
Convert - How many people say yes to your offer? That buys your services. In marketing language, we call this number your conversion rate. That is how many leads (potential customers) are converting into paying customers. If that number is below what it needs to be you may have a convert bottleneck.

Deliver - When we have a delivery bottleneck we often have clients waiting for their work to get done, complaining that things are taking too long. When you have a waitlist of people or the phone is ringing off the hook with clients who want to work with you and you need to say now, or if you or your team is struggling to deliver quality service and you are on the edge of burnout, these are clear signs that your current bottleneck is on the delivery side of the business.

If you have a bottleneck in one of the areas we just covered and you don’t have the cash flow that is needed to fix it, then Collect may be the bottleneck inside your business.

Once you have your metrics and you know what your current bottleneck is, you want to focus your efforts on solving or clearing this bottleneck before you do anything else.

I suggest using your current bottleneck and creating a 90 day goal to clear it.

I am hosting a live 90 minute workshop creating a CEO Dashboard inside your business. Join me and a small group of small business owners and let me help you get clear on exactly what metrics you need to measure so that you can easily spot bottlenecks inside your business and course correct before the wheels fall off.

There are only ten spaces available in the workshop because I want to give everyone a chance to get 1:1 support from me.

The link to grab your ticket is ilonkaras.com/ceodashboard

You can watch the video recording HERE

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Ilonka Ras

Ilonka is a certified Strategic Intervention Coach and has a passion for helping overworked women entrepreneurs free up space and energy in their day so they have more time for the things that matter to them.

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