Momentum Podcast: 477
When You Hit A Wall
by Alex Charfen
As you grow your business, there are going to be times when it feels like you've hit a wall. This is especially true if you're a fast growth business.
It's so normal to hit a wall and it's something that happens to every entrepreneur out there. The key is learning how to deal with your challenges in the right way and not let the struggles you feel push you into making bad decisions.
When people are under pressure, they don't normally make good and rational decisions. If you've hit a wall, here's what you need to do…
1 — Lower pressure and noise for you
2 — Assess if your team is overwhelmed
3 — Pull the targets closer and rack up some wins
You can get past the wall.
If you haven't yet, get a copy of my book the Entrepreneurial Personality Type at freemomentumbook.com
Full Audio Transcript
Alex Charfen: I talked to some friends of mine this week that have grown a business incredibly fast. I mean, faster than just about anybody I've ever seen in my life, and they have hit a stumbling block, a temporary period where growth is difficult and they have some adjustment to do, some foundation building to do, and I was so glad I got to talk to them because they were really beating themselves up, but I want you to know something. On the way from $0.00 to a $100 million, you are going to hit a wall.
I'm Alex Charfen, and this is The Momentum Podcast, made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers, and creators of all kinds, those among us who can't turn it off, and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum, so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution.
Sure, we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny, we define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few, who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future, and instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world, because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive, human evolution and we always will be.
You might be able to hear some background noise today. I am headed downtown to Austin to the Health Entrepreneurs X Event. I'm speaking for Michelle Norris and Keith Norris, who are really good friends of mine. They founded Paleo f(x). They're also just some of our closest friends here in Austin, and my daughters both consider themselves personal friends of Michelle Norris and they go hang out with her at Paleo f(x). So I love doing events with Michelle, and I'm going to speak at her one day event for health entrepreneurs, and I'm driving my Porsche today. I wanted something that created a little stimulation, maybe even a little excitement, little dopamine, serotonin. Let's be honest, every once in a while, just a touch of adrenalin, and so there's a little background noise.
But I wanted to jump on and record a podcast because I've been talking about this a lot lately. I think perspective shifts and changes and modifies so much over time, and when you're growing a business the first time, it is so hard to have perspective as to what's real, to what matters, to what's normal, to what should really get you upset, and what shouldn't, and what should you get accustomed to, what's going to happen again, and it's one of the reasons that we coach the way we do.
I could do one on one coaching, but it is so much more important when you get to over $300,000.00, when you're building a team, and especially, I mean, if you're over a million, and you don't have a network, a group of entrepreneurs that you're talking to regularly about building your business around a common body of content, about doing that, you are cheating yourself because it is so hard to know what's normal, to know what happens to everyone.
And so I was talking to a couple of friends of mine this week. They'd grown a business incredibly fast over the past few years. It like exploded. It's changed so many people's lives. I mean, they are two of the most talented people I've ever met in my life. Sorry about the GPS. I get lost easy.
So they've hit some stumbling blocks in their business. There's some stumbling points in their business. They have had some periods where they're not growing as fast as they have been, and they've had some adjustments they've had to make. They've had some personnel adjustments, they've had ... Sorry. I hope you can hear me.
So they've also had some product adjustments they've had to make, and here's what happens when you have two or three things happen all at once in your business. Let's say numbers go down a little bit, and in investigating that your numbers go down, you have to make some personnel changes, which means maybe moving people or terminating people, and then in your numbers going down a bit, you also realize you need to have somebody make some product delivery changes and change the way your clients are getting your product. That's exactly what we went through.
That's exactly what we went through in our company in September of last year, and that's why we stopped advertising and pulled back, and in our organization, went to like non-growth mode. We actually talked about it, like, "We're not advertising. We're going to let the podcast drive any business that we get." And we've a steady trickle of leads, and a steady trickle of business come in, but we know once we turn it on, it's going to go crazy, but we first wanted to rebuild everything.
And my friends have grown a business to so many times bigger than mine, and they've just hit a wall, and so I'm like, "Guys, this happened to me at $2 million. It just happened to happen to you at over 10 times that." And it's so normal to hit a wall. It's so routine that they pop up. It is something that happens to every single entrepreneur out there, and here's what I can tell you. I have consolidated data. It's one of the things I feel so privileged to have in my life. It's the consolidated knowledge of what happens to entrepreneurs, because here's where I am at 46.
I've spent so much time with entrepreneurs who have generously shared with me what's going on and told me where they've learned lessons and told me about the challenges and issues that they're going through, that it's given me this consolidated knowledge, this shared database that's in my head, and now that we're actually pulling out from the clients we have, we're documented what's happened for them, what things go on, how their businesses are growing, and so now, we're building this massive body of content about what's normal for entrepreneurs, and here's what's absolutely normal, is that you will hit periods of time in your business where you hit a wall.
And let me tell you what a wall is to an entrepreneur. It's a period of time in your business where you can't figure out how to grow the way you have been growing, or it's a period of time in your business where you go backwards. It's one of the hardest periods in an entrepreneur's life, is when their biz now. Let me clarify that. Every once in a while, we have a month where we go backwards. We have it right now. There's a lot of entrepreneurs who have it right now that we're coaching, because we're bouncing around the $3 million run rate, so we'll have like $195 month, then we'll go, next month, have like a $240 month, then we'll come back with a $220, and so it's getting more consistent and it's going up.
But I'm talking about when you hit the wall, where for months, you're not growing, or you start to go backwards, and really, when we start to go backwards as entrepreneurs, here's the challenge that happens. It's not only are you going to hit the wall, you have to understand how to deal with the wall, because it happens to all of us, but here's what happens. When we hit the wall, our instinct, something in our evolutionary history says, "Do way more and pile on more." And maybe because we're evolutionary hunters, we had to keep the tribe alive. If thing weren't working, we are hard wired to do more, to be more, to try and create more.
But here's what happens to so many entrepreneurs, when you hit a wall, is that you try and add on more and add on and add on and add on, and I've done it. I've done it. Man, I had to do it a dozen times before I realized that the way ... Okay, I'm going to save four minutes really quick, but I'm going to finish this podcast instead.
And so you know what happens is, when you get to that place where you're not growing, to that place where things aren't going forward, to that place where business is stalled out, you don't make good decisions anymore. So your decisions to add stuff, your decisions to add a Hail Mary, your decisions to throw more wood on the fire, your decisions to open up more projects to try and do more aren't really good rational decisions because you're under too much pressure.
Now, are there exceptions to this? Yes. I'm giving you a general rule that will save you when you are growing your business, because our judgment, the way we look at things, the availability of the five currencies to us, the availability of cash in time, which we can watch, we can regulate, we can understand where they're going, we can inventory them, but cash, time, focus, energy, and effort, when you pile on more, your focus gets deluded. When you're doing too much, your energy goes down. When you have more going on than you did before, the effort it takes is way more and you're burning all of them too fast, and here's what happens when so many entrepreneurs hit a wall.
They turn it up instead of down. They turn it up instead of down, and here's how you can consistently get out of this and here's simple steps. One, lower the pressure and noise everywhere. If you hit a wall in the business, where it starts to stop growing, slipping backwards, start asking yourself, "What can I cut? What do I not need to do? What do I simplify? What projects should I put on hold? What can I make easier?" Because you need all the available resources you have, and your company has, to get back to that growth place, to get back to the place where you're moving forward.
Then, if you hit that wall, ask yourself, "How overwhelmed is your team?" Look around the team. See what's going on with them because that can be a huge cause for not being able to see a way forward because the team's stressed. You don't have enough decision makers. So often, when you're growing a business, you hit this wall all of the sudden, especially as you're building a team, and this information comes from just me watching other companies and getting the same questions, the same issues over and over again, and then having lived through it myself.
And what happens is, as you're growing your team, you'll bring people on, you'll bring people on, you'll bring people on, and if you're not bringing on enough experienced senior leadership, people who can really get you there, you're going to look up one day and realize you're still making all the decision. You hit a wall.
There's so many reasons you hit a wall. You have one channel of marketing that is growing, it's doing well, you're building Facebook, whatever it is, then you hit a point where you can't grow it, or heaven forbid, Facebook or Google or whatever you are driving your business through changes an algorithm, and next thing you know, it's not that you're not just doing okay anymore, it's that your numbers have gone way down. You hit a wall. It's so common.
So the perspective I have is, it's going to happen to every single one of us, and so first, you turn down the noise. Second, you look at your team. You ask yourself, "Are they overwhelmed? Where can I adjust? What do I need to do?" And then, third, you go out and you pull all the targets closer. You start racking up some wins with your team, because when you hit a wall, you need to look at all the things you and your team are trying to do, and if you're trying to go from $5 million to $7 million, but you hit a wall and the business isn't growing anymore, well, now, wouldn't it make sense to maintain $5 million and just fix hitting the wall? Wouldn't it make sense to just solidify where you are?
And then here's what happens. In 90 days, you can set those targets again and you set a growth target. But I'm one of those entrepreneurs that's like grow all the time. No matter what, try and grow. However, I also know that if your sausage grinder isn't working and you push more meat through it, things get really messy, and unfortunately, fast growth companies can become sausage grinders, and you can't let it get there in your business.
So you're going to hit a wall. It's going to happen, and here's what happens to the entire team. This is important for you to know. Everyone on the team panics probably more than you when you hit a wall. I know we feel like we feel it the most, but here's the deal, guys. You and I are entrepreneurs. We make our rules. We create the future ourselves. We know the dirt's going to be there when we step off the cliff to support our next step because we're the one putting it there.
But when we hit a wall, here's what happens to the entire team. They don't know how the dirt's going to be there. They don't know how everything's going to get resolved. They can't see the future, they don't have your optimism. In fact, here's what they're thinking, "Am I going to be out of a job? Am I going to be able to pay my bills?" And the fact is, it's proven that a very high majority of the people out there, like 90% or more, are a couple months away from bankruptcy, can't really pay all of their bills, are having issues somewhere in their life, like everybody's challenged by something, and then when the company hits a wall, the entire team feels that pain, feels that stress, and starts worrying.
And so your whole goal has to be to get your company past that wall. You have to break through the wall by getting back to where you're growing and the foundation is steady. So remember, pull back on projects, look at what's going on for your team, makes things easier on everybody and pull the targets closer, and then go build the foundation, because you want to make sure that, in your business, you are consistently always building the foundational business. If you struggle there, rarely is adding a whole bunch more stuff the solution. If you struggle there, in my experience with hundreds of companies, the solution is to go back, solidify that foundation, and then go back to adding another project, another avatar, another something, whatever it is, but simplify first.
When you hit a wall, lowering the noise, making it easier on your team, and making sure you pull the targets closer is going to get you out of it, and here's what I want you to know. Not if, but when you hit the wall, you're going to get past it. You can get past it, you can push past it, and you're an entrepreneur. You're an evolutionary hunter. You have to expect that you will face opposition, you will face what Steven Pressfield calls resistance, you will face the pressures of the world pushing against you, because we go out and we do the unthinkable.
We challenge the status quo, we change the present, we make things different in the world every single day. And so guess what? Most of the world wants things to stay the same. Most of the world accepts the status quo, most of the world actually clings to average and worships the status quo. So you will hit a wall, and you will face resistance, and it's normal. Make things easier on yourself. Fight. Oh, Siri. Fight the instinct to ... This is like the really dramatic finish and she won't stop giving me directions. Fight the instinct to ... Oh, you've to be kidding me.
Fight the instincts to do too much, fight the instinct to pile on more, fight the instinct to make it more complicated. Go back to your business and ask yourself, "How can I make this easier? How can I simplify the deliverable? How do I make it less complicated? How do I do less and pull the target closer to make it easier on my team?" And the next thing you know, you're going to be crushing through that wall, and the next one.
Build those muscles. Build the muscles of pulling back and getting it going again and building the foundation, and as an entrepreneur, you have an unfair advantage over everyone around you, including your competition.
So if you haven't yet, take a minute and download my book, The Entrepreneurial Personality Type, it's ... Not download, sorry. I don't have this written down because I'm driving. So don't download my book. Go get a copy of my book, and it's actually free. Go to FreeMomentumBook.com, FreeMomentumBook.com.
Here's what I did. I wrote the treatise on our personality type, the manifesto for entrepreneurs, on who we are, why we are how we are, and how we can be in momentum most of the time in our lives. I also included information on exactly why so much of the world fights against us. So I want you to download it at FreeMomentumBook.com, and remember, when you hit the wall, you're going to get through it.