How to Grow My Business When I Am Already Maxed out? Phase III Part II

Phase III part II – Challenges and Hindrances

In our last blog post, we talked about the hidden challenges that we all face with our emotions, attitudes, biases and our own ego. Pogo said it best when he said, “We have met the enemy and he is us!”

Challenges we see —

Now we turn to the many challenges that can easily overwhelm us if we let them.

There are so many that we should categorize them instead. Challenges in our business can be found in:

  1. Money — Cash flow or the lack of capital
  2. Employees – High turnover and low production
  3. Competition – from unfriendly competitors to downright nasty ones
  4. Market changes – customers, the economy, fads, and trends
  5. Management – communications, planning, or lack of, and decisions.

Missing the target

One of the biggest problems in addressing your challenge is mistaking a challenge or problem that is actually only a symptom. When you don’t address the cause of the challenge you can spend a lot of resources and feel good about some visible change, only to have the problem reoccur when you least expect it.

There is a process of consulting that helps management teams and others to push hard into finding root causes to problems and not just surface issues.


Money is almost never the problem. Cash flow and capital is a symptom of too little income, too much outgo, or poor planning of profits. Cash flow is only the yardstick that tells you there is a problem.


Since we all know you cannot control people, this can be a real problem. There are many potential causes of employee challenges. It could be that you hired poorly, don’t pay well, don’t train effectively or don’t manage your employees.

What we do is look at what can be controlled and what can’t. Can we improve our hiring, training, and managing? I have never seen a company that cannot improve in this area.


From a strategic perspective trying to find space in the marketplace where you can stay away from sharks would seem best. But the problem is that there seem to be sharks everywhere. Here you need to rely on other strategies to be able to quietly yet effectively move into and navigate safer waters.

While there are many who take the attitude of “I’ll fight them!” you better have a better game plan than they do or you are going to lose. Here is where the phrase “working smarter, not harder” would really apply.

Market changes

In these areas, those who pay attention and are observant generally make out the best. Your competitors have these same issues as you do, so the business that can effectively turn these to their advantage first gets the upper hand.

We all know of Kodak, Blockbuster, and others that are no longer in existence because they could not change and adapt to the changes in the marketplace. There are steps that you can take to be prepared for these changes.


This is usually a difficult issue to address. There are so many hidden influences going on that if this is causing some challenges it is difficult to solve. Not impossible but often difficult.

In a bank client of mine, all of the research I did and my analysis pointed to the CEO as the biggest problem with the many problems taking place. The CEO denied any of them existed. I was able to lead a process that helped the CEO see the issues and make some critical changes.

What about you?

The biggest take away here is to look beyond the apparent problem and look for root causes if you are going to remove or overcome these challenges.


How Does Crossroads Consultants Help Business Owners Solve Business Problems?

This is a quick look at how a business consultant may help a client.

Consulting involves changes. If nothing changes there is no need for a consultant. Even if we only provide information that you didn’t have before that would change the basis of which you might make a decision.

What you may want is to prevent something that is detrimental to you or your business either at present or sometime in the future. This could include new competition, regulation, the loss of a vendor, poor employee morale and engagement, dropping sales, lowering profits, etc.

The other thing would be to reach or progress toward a goal or potential in your business. This could include improved sales or profits, taking advantage of new products and services, hiring the right people, improving performance and productivity, investing in new equipment or facilities, or expansion of some kind. All of these would help you to improve your business in the future. You need to make sure that the risks are calculated and the proper processes are put in place.

I make sure that I get the right perspective on the situation. That means that we want to make sure we don’t get just a little bit of information and make a quick diagnosis of the problem with an even quicker prescription of a solution. Without asking enough questions and getting the proper perspective this would be considered “malpractice” and is not acceptable.

Once I have some perspective on a situation then I start to focus in on potential details that may be causing or influencing the issue. Here is where any consultant should be worth their weight in gold. Many times it is not the obvious cause that is the problem; it is the hidden elements that are the real threat to success. A good consultant will not move too quickly and just go with the basic obvious cause. Looking for other influences can really prevent an expensive disaster.

A good business consultant will also know when they need to bring in additional help with specialties in other disciplines. As an example one client was having some real troubles with some billing and cash flow issues. An accountant was brought in to take a look and was able to see some of the problems fairly quickly. In this case the accountant saw that the problem was the poor use of the accounting software, but upon further review the business consultant was able to determine some additional issues of employee morale and management practices that were also influencing the issue. So while the accountant had solved the problem for a little while, it would have returned in the near future without other adjustments.

No matter what your problem, challenge or goal is, if it is more than a simple vendor problem call Crossroads Consultants and get a complimentary conference call. I have connections with specialists that can help you in areas outside of business management consulting. My goals is to help business professionals to improve their business results and performance, if a simple introduction to someone else that is better suited to meet your needs is all that it takes, than I am glad that I can help you and know that I will gain your respect and hopefully trust for when an issue that is more specific to my expertise comes along.

Stan Broesder is the founder and owner of Crossroads Consultants, a business management consulting company that develops management skills and organizational efficiencies for business professionals. Using Strategic Planning, management systems and employee engagement, Stan helps businesses to improve their performance and ultimately their profits while becoming better at planning and executing plans.

Most of Stan’s clients are in Western North Carolina, specifically in Lincolnton, Hickory, Lincoln and Catawba and surrounding counties. He can be reached at 980-241-0189, by email at or through his website. I can help most business professionals to reach their goals, be more profitable and develop higher performance for themselves and their business.

Construction in 2015 and Beyond

There is always the desire to look into the future and to see what is going to happen. If you knew stocks were going to plunge next Tuesday, you would sell on Monday. The farther out the “prediction”, the slower the return, if it comes at all and therefore the greater the risk.

So, when we look at 2015 and beyond many people think that it is too far off and you can’t have reliable predictions anyway. While that sounds good, there are many who predict and invest a lot farther out than that. Companies like Exxon/Mobile and Georgia Pacific both have 100+ year plans. That is what I call planning and predicting into the future?

But what about right here, can we accurately predict the future for construction? Dale Atkins with The Marketing Edge who has spoken several times at our Home Builder’s Association membership meeting has said that there is a correlation between collectable rent and home construction.

When rent goes up there is a greater interest to buy or build a new home. Prices of homes tend to go up because of the increase in demand. There will always be fluctuations, but there are also trends. And when you start looking for trends based on facts your ability to predict will greatly increase.

The hard part is not so much predicting the trend, as understanding what does that trend mean for me and my business. How do I use this information to position my business for growth and greater profitability when it comes? What threats will there be to my business that I need to mitigate before the storm hits?

About two years ago it was said at one of our meetings that the average age for a licensed plumber and electrician in our county was in the low 60’s. Although I haven’t been able to verify it, it is worth thinking about. So, what will be the net effect in the not too distant future? If you need an electrician or plumber it just might cost you a whole lot more than it does now. When finding a good plumber becomes difficult, it may have an impact on your schedule and the amount of work you can do.

According to the National Association of Home Builders in a recent article they are already seeing some difficulty throughout the country in finding roofers, framing carpenters and general carpenters. If the country sees an increase in the demand for construction, these trends will affect your business, the question is how? And is there anything you can do in preparation for this trend?

If you see a trend, that is great, but think about the impact. What if you and your competitor see a trend, how will that affect your business? What if they see a trend and you don’t?

As I am writing this I got an email from David Crowe of the NAHB Education department, talk about timing. They are promoting a “NAHB Fall Construction Forecasting Webinar” with special guest, Moody’s Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi, is on October 30th. You might want to check it out.

Taking some time to look at the future horizons, to set better goals and to make better plans is always a good investment of your time. So realize that you can predict the future or at least see the horizon better. The important thing is to see the how trends will impact your business and find ways to take advantage of the opportunities and minimize the threats.

When you properly plan into the future, you gain better control of your present.

Crossroads Consultants can help you to plan into the future while gaining better control for today.

Does Success Breed Failure?

Success in and of itself can create a climate for failure. The saying, “What got you here, won’t get you there” (book title, Marshall Goldsmith) is appropriate for this thought. As difficult as it is to get to a certain level in business it maybe even more difficult to stay there.

Success, however you define it, puts you in a position of new opportunities and threats. Many stumble because they are not ready for the new policies, systems and habits that are demanded of them to be at that level and default back to old habits and safer waters. This is where some talk about the fear of success comes in. It may not be a fear of success (the outcome), but the change that it requires. Although the environmental change that comes with success can be disruptive, there are also internal changes that have to be considered as well.

When you are very busy you can create a routine or rhythm to your work that is very productive, but it can be very susceptible to change. If you push just a little too hard on your production you can make a mistake and send production into a tailspin. Or as the pressure for production decreases, you can become inefficient. You can lose focus on the new and most important tasks at hand believing you will have time to get to them later. But before you know it you are busy again and the important things didn’t get done.

Your ability to adjust to the pressures and demands on your time, energy and other assets is critical to continuing the progress of success that one experiences within their life. Without that ability to be flexible and focus on the important things, little errors creep in without detection and can become a major disaster without warning.

So how do you develop the ability to make the constant adjustment between super busy and bust? What does it take to smooth those ups and downs at least so they don’t cause serious crashes? There are two things you have to have.

You have to be able to keep perspective while still focusing on what is priority. You need to be ability to look at the big picture while also keeping a focus on key and critical details. In order to have perspective you need to be able to step back and grasp the big picture of your business. You need to be able to make accurate choices about what is important and what is not. Then you need to be able to focus your resources on getting the most critical, the key objectives accomplished.

In success your perspective is constantly changing because the world is changing by the minute or faster. Being able to focus energy and resources in the midst of change, on the most critical objectives is vital. So the reality is that you need to balance two totally different mindsets, big picture and laser focus. The right tools can help you to accomplish that juggling act. [that will have to be a different post]

Would you like more referrals?

Over the years in my BNI (Business Network International) experience a number of members have said to me that they just don’t know how to give me a referral or who to refer me to. I have also heard that said to others within our chapter. I would like to take that on as a challenge to help you to provide more referrals.

First off, referrals don’t usually (but occasionally) just happen. It is more rare than common that someone will say to you, “Hey I am thinking of refinancing my house, do you know anyone I can talk to?” Or someone who says, “Hey, my business is really struggling, do you know a good business consultant that I can talk to?” It may happen but it wouldn’t be common.

Second, you are not going to refer people to someone you don’t trust or like. This is a difficult subject for most people. If you are not very confident that the chapter member is trustworthy and credible, you are not going to want to take the risk that they will make you look bad to that client, friend or even prospect. This subject is a little bigger than we have time to discuss now. I will plan to come back to it some other time.

Third, a good referral does not mean that the person has money in hand waiting to buy what your chapter member is selling. Keep in mind, any connection that can help the other person to improve or move their business forward can be a good referral. Some people have important connections, some people have products and services that we need (backward referral), others may need the products and services that your chapter members provide. However, sometimes your chapter members have other assets or resources that are important to your network. Let’s say that you know a chapter member who is a collector of “whatever” and you have a “prospect, client or center of influence person that you also know is a collector of “whatever”, bringing these two together maybe in your best interest, even if it doesn’t bring you immediate business.

Lastly (for now), you may need to “work” at giving a referral. Maybe you need to put one or two members on a 3 x 5 card and put them on your desk while you actually shuffle through your database (business cards, etc.) to “create” a connection. These referrals may not be as “hot” as the “money in the hand” types, but they may be perfect and you just didn’t think about the connection.

Many business people have a large even though not necessarily deep network. There are a lot of people that I know on a first name basis when I go to a Chamber event or other organization meeting, but I don’t know their last name. The problem is that person doesn’t fit into my close network, but they might fit into yours. Let’s say that you sell chemicals for the pool/aquarium industry to retailers, and let’s say I’m an industrial specialty steel salesman. There are no real connections between these two networks. However, while “working” to see how I can help my chemical sales friend I see that in my networks I do know someone who is in construction (maybe the pool angle) and I know someone who has a salt water fish tank (or non-salt water fish something). I decide that with a quick phone call I can possibly find a connection. This wouldn’t be easy, but it is doable. It may not be the best referral but it could be a perfect one as well. The fish referral knows the owner of a chain of pet stores, bingo!

So, are you just waiting for the referrals to show themselves to you? Are you trustworthy and credible? One person put it this way, stop asking for referrals and start deserving recommendations. Be honest with others or maybe an honest sit down conversation with someone who doesn’t have something to lose if they tell “you” the truth could help. Are you pre-qualifying or over-qualifying your potential referrals that you could give, instead of letting your chapter member do what they do best, sell themselves? And finally, are you willing to work at it? To be a good networker usually requires “WORK”! No matter if you give or receive, it takes work.

Receiving and giving referrals goes both ways. But remember, “Giver’s Gain!”

Who has time to get it all done?

When we are working at 100% now, who has the time to expand a business or increase marketing, sales, etc. We have plans for growing our business but who has the time to implement the ideas?

This is much more common than people realize. We have cut back expenses to the bare minimums, which means we as the business owner are going to carry as much of the load as possible and wonder when will we be able to invest just a little bit more time and money to help grow the business.

If we do invest a little bit to grow the business will it be enough to move forward and create the needed cash flow to keep that investment going? And can we sustain the pressure and weight of adding more to our plate on a daily basis. Even if we hire someone on a part-time or contract basis, we will need to manage that person and project.

So how do we get ahead? How do we get to the point that we can reduce the stress, increase the cash reserves, and free up just a little bit of time?

There are several profitable initiatives that can be implemented in almost every business to capture some elusive cash flow and profit. The question is do you know what they are and can you implement the initiative yourself or will you need help?

Your concern should be to find the quickest return on your investment so that you can continue to invest and find additional and bigger cash flow and profit gains.

A. Low or no profit Products and services

One place to start would be to search for low or no profit products and services and to eliminate them or make them more profitable. Anywhere from 20 to 40% of all products and services fall into this category. Often it is subsidized by other products and services and we don’t even know it.

 B. No or low profit customers

Another possibility would be to find the low or no profit customer and show them why the cost for keeping them as your customer is higher than others and then renegotiate your price with them. While this may not be possible every time, many times a customer will accept a change in what they are being charged if they understand that it needs to be a win-win for everyone.

 These are just two initiatives that a business owner can use. There are many more to consider. Once you can squeeze a some extra from your business you can continue to develop plans to really grow your profits. 

If you have any questions about how you can implement these cash flow and profit initiatives call Crossroads Consultants at: 980-241-0189.