You’re running the race.  If you’re a business owner, you are running the race of your life.  In addition to varying factors working against you, there are five consistent hurdles that stand in the way of every business.  And yet – you have a real shot…

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You have a real shot at making a difference, making some better choices, and making some sharper decisions that can help you win in this tough and competitive economy.

So let’s take a moment to look at the five hurdles that you must clear.  Because if you overcome these five hurdles, you will not only run the race well, but you will have a REAL shot at getting to the finish line like a winner!

The 5 Hurdles That Throttle Growth:

1 » Lack of Commitment to the Right Target Market

Chances are you’ve evolved your target market based on where you’ve had success in the past.  That makes perfect sense.  The challenge is taking a deeper look at your actual customers.

For example, compare your top ten revenue customers as well as your top ten margin contributing customers, and figure out the headroom (how much MORE can be had?).  Talk to these customers and ask them or otherwise find out: “How much business could you be giving to us that you’ve chosen to give to other vendors?”  Armed with this information, you can start asking, “Who else is like this customer and how many more are like them that we have yet to reach?”

  • Do you know your potential revenue/margin headroom with your top customers?
  • How do you intend to zero in on the right target market?

2 » Ignoring Hidden Competitors

You probably have a good idea as to who you’re directly competing against — in other words, you know your arch nemesis.  They look like you, they function like you, they sell stuff that looks like what you sell.  But the hidden competitor — the competitor that is routinely ignored — is the one you need to watch out for. Simply – what else is taking customer budget dollars to solve the problems your offering solves?

So how do you know if you’re ignoring hidden competitors?  If you’re not developing counter-measures directly related to these competitors, then you’re not taking action.  If you know your customers are putting their budget toward things other than your product, then you know you have a hidden competitor.

  • Who are your hidden competitors?
  • How will you “steal back” the budget dollars and budget attention from these hidden competitors?

3 » Communicating Fuzzy Value Propositions

You know you have a fuzzy value proposition when people aren’t quite clear as to why they should buy your stuff.  Let me put it this way:  Do you know what sets your company (or product) apart?

When it comes to value propositions, it really boils down to this:

  • What distinct promises of value are you making, to whom are you making them, and why should they care?
  • Do your customers know what makes you valuable to them?
  • How will you better communicate that value?

4 » Employing the Wrong Pricing Strategy

How dynamic and how purposeful and how thoughtful is your pricing strategy?

The majority of businesses I’ve encountered tend to think of pricing as something over which they have very little control because the market determines so much of it.  However, there are a couple of drivers that help you with pricing strategy.

External Drivers are outward things that revolve around your product.  For example: How commodity-like is product?  Is your product/category mature?

Internal Drivers are inward things that revolve around your production and goals.  For example:   Are you looking to move lots of volume of that particular product?  Is it something that costs you a lot of time and effort to make?

These are all things that help you price on purpose instead of price by accident.  It can’t just be your gut feeling.

  • How have you decided upon your pricing in the past?
  • What questions do you still need to consider in order to have accurate, competitive, and profitable pricing?

5 » Poorly Prepared Sales Teams

One of the ultimate hurdles – and especially with smaller organizations — is not preparing your sales team in a purposeful way.  Preparing your sales people is about prepping them for the distinct conversations that they are going to have again and again.  These conversations revolve around your business alignment, your financial viability, your product’s technical uses, your competition, and helping the clients make a decision (hopefully in your favor).  If you are not preparing your salespeople to have these conversations in an enlightened and empowering way, then you need to rethink your sales strategy pronto.

  • Where is your sales team falling flat?
  • What do you still need to provide to your sales team in order to make them more prepared?

In Conclusion

I don’t care if you are a giant mega corporation or a small owner-led business – these hurdles will cause you to stumble unless you embrace them, deal with them, focus on them, and work on them.

And that’s my challenge to you today, as the year starts to come to a close:

How are you going to take this knowledge and bring your business to the next level, or are you just going to stay in the “safe” zone and hope something takes off?

The race is yours, and the choices are before you.  What’s the route you’re going to take?