Momentum Podcast: 583
Plan to Break the Biggest Bottleneck
by Alex Charfen
In an entrepreneurial business, the most common issue I’ve encountered is that the entrepreneur in charge is buried by the responsibilities of running and growing that business on a day-to-day basis. More often than not, entrepreneurs say that they are drowning in things that need to get done. At the end of the day, they look at what they still have left to do and wonder how in the world they are going to get it done. It’s as if the entire business is hitting a bottleneck and there is no end in sight.
There is only one way to break that bottleneck and allow your business to grow faster than you ever thought possible. In this episode, I will expose the biggest bottleneck in your business and give you the tangible, tactical, and transformative steps you need to take in order to break that bottleneck and allow your business to grow exponentially. Your business has the potential to change the world, and the only way to see that potential become a reality is to implement a strategic plan. Let me show you exactly how to do it.
Full Audio Transcript
This is the Momentum podcast. As an entrepreneur, it can be day-to-day overwhelming to be the biggest bottleneck in your business. It feels like everyone needs something from you. You can't get enough done and you're always falling short of what you should be doing for the business. And it can wear on you, make you lose confidence and make you feel a massive feeling of constraint that we try to push aside and ignore. Instead of being the bottleneck and living with it, plan to break your biggest bottleneck and your entire business and your life will change.
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.
I talked about it a little bit in the intro, but let's just review. What are the symptoms of being the biggest bottleneck in your business? What does it feel like? Well, there's this slight feeling of overwhelm. I don't want you to confuse this with the slight feeling of overwhelm of just running a business. That's what we do as entrepreneurs. There will always be a feeling of, "I'm doing a lot. I'm doing more," until you get a system in place where it feels like you're not doing enough.
We don't really balance as entrepreneurs. I've never met an entrepreneur who is like, "My business has the exact right demands on me today. So your business will always want something from you, but there's a difference, when you're the biggest bottleneck in the business, here's what it feels like. It feels like you can't get everything done every day. Like you get up, you look at all the stuff you need to do and it's almost defeating starting out the day or at the end of the day when you review what's left, it feels completely overwhelming or there's just more than you're going to be able to do.
You're the biggest bottleneck when you're getting interrupted. You're doing something and team members reach out or you're getting a ton of messages through Slack or Voxer or text or Messenger or whatever your team uses. There's just a constant need for information from you. You're the biggest bottleneck when you feel like there's cases when, or most of the time your team doesn't take the initiative you'd like to see. They don't step up like you'd like to see.
In fact, you feel like you're kind of prodding them along or maybe even doing some micromanagement even though that's what you really don't want to do. And one of the biggest symptoms of being the biggest bottleneck that we don't really recognize as being that we are the biggest bottleneck in our business, is that our team becomes tentative. Not only do they stop taking initiative, but now they get nervous, they get anxious, they start making mistakes, they start missing small things and they start doing things that really are out of character and we wouldn't even expect from them. That's what happens when you're the biggest bottleneck.
And here's what happens for so many entrepreneurs, because we don't have perspective if you haven't done this before, you might not have perspective. And so, when the team starts interrupting you and they're not taking initiative and they're tentative and they're missing things, you might start thinking it's them, right? After all, as entrepreneurs, what got you here won't get you there. So, a lot of entrepreneurs have taken that as I need to turn my team over all the time. And it's okay.
And that happens all the time. Or entrepreneurs will stay with team members who are completely overwhelmed and frustrated and we stagnate. We get into constraint. It's incredibly difficult to grow. And until we remove ourselves as the biggest bottleneck, you are going to feel those feelings.
And so, let's just take a second right now and get real about your business. How often do you feel like there's way too much at the end of the day that you didn't get done? How often do you feel overwhelmed by everything that you need to do? How often are you getting interrupted by your team? How often are you thinking, "I wish they would do more. I wish they would take more initiative. Why do I feel like I'm pushing everybody forward? Why do I have to tell everybody everything over and over again? If these things are real in your business at any level, then at some level you are a massive bottleneck.
Now, at some level you always will be, but we want to reduce that bottleneck effect. We want to reduce it to the point where it doesn't affect your team. We want to reduce it to the point where there's systems that will overcome it. We want to reduce it to the point where your team really knows what's going on.
And here's how you do it. The path out of being the biggest bottleneck of your company, and there's only one that I know of. I just want to make it clear, there is only one that I know of. I have been working with entrepreneurial business, I've actually owned entrepreneurial businesses since I was in my teens and I've been working with entrepreneurial businesses since my early twenties.
And in that entire time the only path I have seen for an entrepreneur to get out of being the biggest bottleneck in their company is to create some type of strategic planning system where there's a strategic plan that tells the team where they're going, what the destination is, what's happening next so the entrepreneur doesn't always have to be there filling in answering questions and doing that for them.
And that is one of the most game changing things that you can do in a business. Creating a strategic plan so that people know where you're going changes everything. However, I believe there's a reason why as entrepreneurs, we don't really like to strategic plan. Here's logic, right? Let's just think about logic. Should you run a business and spend money, and spend resources, and try and hire people, and try and execute projects, and serve customers without first creating a strategic plan?
I think anyone would say, "Yeah, you probably shouldn't do that. You should have a plan." There's a lot of moving parts there. But when we talk to entrepreneurs, especially in smaller businesses, now in larger businesses, strategic planning is very common. Especially in the tens of millions you almost assume strategic plans are there or they wouldn't have gotten there. But in smaller businesses, 99% of the time we're not seeing a strategic plan.
Well, maybe 90% of the time we might not see a strategic plan, but 10% people have some sort of plan. But of those 10% rarely do we see any type of system to renew the plan. And I want us to talk about why we don't like planning. Why do so many entrepreneurial businesses not have planning? Why isn't this our instinct?
Well, here's what I believe. I think that as entrepreneurs we like to be confident, we like to be clear, we like to know where we're going, we don't like any type of ambiguity, we like certainty. And I think as entrepreneurs we actually experience anxiety around even the discussion of planning. And I want you to understand what I'm saying here, I've seen this in person up close and real with entrepreneurs.
When we start talking about planning, people start squirming in their seats, they start getting uncomfortable. We have a hard time with even getting into the discussion and planning and why because when we're creating a plan in that same moment, we are admitting that in the creation process we don't really know where we're going.
And I think that that anxiety around planning, that feeling around planning of like, "I don't really know where I'm going because I'm planning," keeps so many entrepreneurs from actually doing it. I also think another reason why we don't like planning is how many of us have tried a planning process, a structure, a system, a framework that when we tried to install it or use it, it was so difficult. It became a bigger problem than not having a plan?
I know so many of us have been through that as well. And so, if the bridge to you getting out of being the biggest bottleneck is being, is having a plan, we don't just have to have a plan, we want to have a plan that actually works long-term that removes you in that bottleneck position, not just today, but removes you from the bottleneck position permanently and puts you in passenger status where you do not have to drive the team.
Where you can coach the team, you can lead the team from a passenger seat and you do not have to be the one who's pushing everything forward. Because here's the problem with the planning systems that we do see. In most cases the entrepreneur is doing all of the planning themselves and presenting it to the team.
When you do all the planning yourself and present it to the team, several things happen. One, they have no ownership, only you do. So now they are now executing a plan they had nothing to do with. If you want people to work with you and be passionate, people will do what you ask them to, but they will passionately do what they are allowed to co-create.
If there is a co-creation process where your team's involved in the planning process, here's how it works with the system that we teach our clients. We show our clients how to create a plan for a year and then renew it on a monthly basis with input from their teams.
When you do it this way, when you have a plan in process with input from your team, so that your team's making commitments, so that your teams bringing progress to the table, and you're coaching and improving and making sure that the company's going in the right direction you want, but when your team is involved, here's what happens. Not only does everybody understand, everyone has ownership and consensus.
There's a much higher level of execution when we get you not only out of the bottleneck, but then we put a system in place where your team is actually contributing. And the way that you solve the issue of being the biggest bottleneck is you create a renewable plan with your team. In our system, that happens 12 times a year in one to two hour meeting called the monthly meeting and you come out with a clear monthly plan.
What would happen in your business if 12 times a year you went through a hardcore prioritization, decided exactly what you needed to do, your team executed and crushed it then you did it again next month? Can you imagine if you could set up those 12 periods of productivity where your team's bringing things to the table. They're all agreeing on it, they're going out and crushing it, and then you're seeing what happens at the end of the month. It's life changing.
And the way that you solve this is you make sure everyone understands the plan. So it's in a system, in a structure where they expect it and they understand exactly what they're looking for. And then the planning system should create clarity across your business so that we can get you out of the way, which means for the company and for each department and for each role, the plan should show clear outcomes.
What are we aiming at? Where are we going? When everyone on the team just has this question answered, their confidence will go up, their clarity will go up, their commitment to the team will actually go up, you'll get more out of the people that are already on your team. Let me just say that in a different way. You actually get a higher return on investment on the salaries you're paying right now, on the contractor payments you're making right now, you'll get a higher return on investment once everybody understands clear outcomes.
Now, let's ratchet that investment up even higher. Once there's transparency in each company, for the company, each department and each role. So first you have outcomes for the company. That's your strategic plan. The departments you have them within department with the roles, we have a structure to show each person what they need to do.
Then transparency is measurement. If you want to get out of being the biggest bottleneck, don't just give your team clear outcomes, show them what you're measuring in order to indicate success. So, for our company right now, our outcomes, or one of the outcomes we're driving to as a company right now is we want to have 150 people in our coaching programs. And the transparency for that, that's our clear outcome. The transparency is we are measuring that on a daily basis, we're reporting it to our team, everyone knows that it's there as a company outcome.
And accountability, the people who are on the team who have something to do with bringing people into our program all understand that that's what we're driving towards. So we talk about it on a daily basis. There's a discussion around it. It's clear. And so, for the company, for the department, for the role, you want outcomes, you want transparency, which is measurement, and then clear accountability. Who is doing what?
When you have a plan where your team understands where they're going, what you're measuring and who is doing what, you will not only move out of being the biggest bottleneck, but you will have a completely different experience of running your business. You will have a completely different view of running your business. And if you're sitting there right now thinking, "I'm so buried in my business, I can't see how just putting a plan in place would change things," I hear you. But here's one of the biggest issues that we have today in our coaching program.
In fact, I'm getting on one of our group coaching calls this afternoon and I know I'm already teed up with a call with one of our clients who's in this situation. They put a strategic plan in place, they've installed the communication system, they've removed themselves as the bottleneck and now they're looking for what do they do?
They've lowered so much noise and the business is growing so well that they now want to understand what they do next. They don't actually know what they should do next because they've been so overwhelmed in the business for so long. Now that we created some space we have to fill in, what does the business need next? How are we going to grow it next.
Just to show you, they went from contrast of having way too much to do to literally now saying, "Hey, I need to understand what to do." And that is so common. We actually have an entire script to take people through when that happens, to show them how to connect to the next level of business growth and to start working on what they need to do next.
Because when you put a strategic plan in place, especially with our structuring system, like any planning system isn't going to do this, it will definitely... Any plan, any type of strategic plan is better than none.
If it's unclear and your team doesn't understand it, maybe it's not better than none, but any type of strategic plan that's understood is better than none. But when you have a clear strategic plan and a system to renew it and people understand what their responsibilities are, not only do you step out of the bottleneck seat, but your entire team starts to grow in a totally different way.
And your team will start to take on more responsibility, and you'll see them develop, and you'll see them be able to do more things. And not only will they no longer be tentative, they'll start solving problems before they come up.
And so many issues and challenges will be solved before they come up that you may find yourself on a call with a coach like our clients this afternoon asking, "Hey, I'm now, I need something to do. I feel like there's not enough."
And so, if you're overwhelmed as a business owner, if it's been too long that you've been in that place of being a bottleneck, if you're not getting the progress you want and you know you could be helping more, doing more, making a bigger impact, and making a bigger income, making your life better for you and your family, reach out to us. Let us help you. Let us get you out of the bottleneck seat like we'd done for hundreds of entrepreneurs.
Go to predictablebusinesssystems.com, fill out a few questions from my team and jump on a call and see how we can help you. Whether it's now or later, understand our systems if you're growing a business, because when you need us, I want you to be able to reach out to us quickly. Access help, get a strategic plan in place and start growing your business at the speed that it should grow.
If you've created an opportunity, do not let that opportunity go away. So go to predictablebusinesssystems.com. Set up a call with a member of my team. We look forward to connecting with you.