THE MAGAZINE FOR PROFESSIONALS

Finding and fixing bottlenecks in your business

Matt Shoup

Challenges ahead / Traffic sign (Click for more)As entrepreneurs, we face challenges daily, from sales to marketing, cash flow to personnel management—and many other things. With so many details to tend to, it’s easy to overlook business bottlenecks … those areas where our company backs up, and even stops, choking off our enterprise from profit and success.

With a bottleneck, a steadily flowing business hits a trouble point and can’t continue without a certain person or system in place. Here are three tips to help you identify and address the bottlenecks in your painting business.

TIP 1: REALIZE IT, FIND IT

We business owners are so busy that sometimes we forget to slow down enough to realize where stress points and backups occur. Even worse, we tend to work harder and longer hours to get through it instead of really addressing the problem.

I encourage owners to imagine each and every team member (one at a time, of course) was to take a two- to four-week leave from the company. Then ask themselves questions like: What would happen to the business? Would it slow down, back up, and suffer? If so, how and where would this happen? Once you answer these questions, you will realize your bottlenecks and can start to work on fixes.

TIP 2: LET GO

Many times, we, as the owners, are the bottleneck in our business! We want to maintain control and authority over a department, a certain function, or the entirety of our business.

I was very guilty of this problem. I remember thinking that if I were to leave for a month the business would not be there when I returned. At the same time, I also realized I had very skilled, willing and capable people that could handle many things. Initially, after I started letting go of control over certain aspects of the business, it was stressful and I fought the urge to jump back into the driver’s seat. After a few weeks, however, I was relieved to have delegated many tasks, which allowed for more free time to grow my business.

TIP 3: CREATE A SYSTEM OR DELEGATE A ROLE TO HANDLE THE BOTTLENECK

Most bottlenecks can be handled by implementing a system or delegating a specific task to someone to handle the issue. It’s time to pull the trigger and let your team take the wheel!

In business, I learned one painful lesson as my company grew: I can get in my own way and be my own worst enemy. But then, I learned to give my team the freedom and responsibility to run the company. I have set the business up so that I’m not the cause of any more bottlenecks. This has allowed me to step completely out of daily operations and, spend that time making my company grow.

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