Over the years, I’ve had many clients with problems in their businesses that they didn’t know how to solve. They invited me in to see if I could solve their problems and, sure enough, solutions presented themselves in quick order. I solved these problems not because I am smarter, but because I came in with no preconceived ideas or past experience with the companies. I simply brought a fresh set of eyes and logical business sense.
I had one client that hit a wall with growth. They successfully grew from zero to over ten million in revenues, but then growth flatlined for a couple years. Despite their efforts to break through that level, revenues stayed flat. After I came in and looked at the historical sales and marketing efforts, it became perfectly clear what the problem was: they were not materially investing in sales and marketing at all!
The founder assumed that a business as usual approach would help him solve the problem, with him as the primary salesperson of the company. But that presented a huge bottleneck for the business. One person has a fixed capacity for selling and, regardless how good he was at selling, he was never going to sell more without expanding the sales team and investing in marketing.
Sometimes a CEO, especially a founding CEO, is just too close to the business. They become soimmersed in the day-to-day work that they can’t take a needed pause to see the forest through the trees.
A few key lessons here:
- Set aside time to get out of the day-to-day work to think strategically about how you run your business.
- Understand that just because something worked before doesn’t mean it will work forever
- The needs of the business change as your business scales, so adjust your plans accordingly
- Bringing in a fresh set of eyes can help you more clearly see what you may miss on your own.
It doesn’t matter if you hire a paid consultant or ask a mentor or peer in a similar role at a different company. It just matters that you quickly identify when you need a fresh outside perspective to help brainstorm through the problem. As the odds are, an easy solution will stare you in the face but you just can’t see it.
This article was originally published on Red Rocket VC, a consulting and financial advisory firm with expertise in serving the startup, digital and venture community.
Image credit: CC by m.shattock