In today’s fast paced markets, every leader needs to understand when he or she has reached that point in time when the current business model has crossed the line from relevant, to run-of-the-mill, headed toward becoming a commodity.

Time to look at the world differently

It is the point when a leader needs to look at the world differently, to not only find new solutions, but redefine the challenges being solved.  The key to reigniting the business and sparking next-stage growth is to identify new paths to growth that still deploy existing capabilities while not being restrained by them.

Is your past holding you back?

Unfortunately, some leaders never do realize that moment. They continue to base decisions on past experiences and live within the confines of habits bred by previous success. In those cases, the downward slide driven by business gravity and the amalgamation of limiting practices and beliefs continues. The dramatic difference in the resulting growth curve creates an ever-widening gap between growth and gradual decline.

Early warning indicator

While the choice may seem obvious, it is not easy to determine that the decision point has been reached; nor is the alternative course always clear. How often does your team really examine the fundamental assumptions on which the business is based? Are you aware of early warning signs that indicate larger issues are looming? When I visit with business leaders around the country, many cite the same common business challenges. Do any of these prevalent issues sound familiar to you?

  • Our competition has lowered their prices and we must match them, even though it erodes our margin.
  • We are working harder than ever while waiting for the economy to bounce back.
  • We have a lot of new initiatives in place; we are trying everything.  So far, none of them are working.
  • We have a great new idea but no money to fund it.
  • We know this works because we have always done it this way.  Not sure why it isn’t working now.
  • Our people are always complaining about having too much to do.
  • We are doing everything our competitors are doing.  I wonder why we aren’t growing.

Are your current practices fitting current needs?

These may sound like common issues that every business experiences from time to time, but they are often early warning indicators.  They may be symptoms of a serious problem:  a worn-out business model, struggling to drive the company forward the way it used to.  If the goal is to change the course of the organization, it is time for you to look closely at the alignment of company practices with market needs.

While some of the above issues have external causes, and as such, are seen as outside the control of the organization, that is irrelevant.  Regardless of the source of the problem, it still needs attention.  It is always within the leader’s tool kit to ask how the business can be run differently to overcome the challenges.

Is your business model still valid?

Leaders often find it difficult to take a step back from running the day-to-day business and fighting fires to thinking about how the overall business strategy is working.  When experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, it is time to examine:

  • Where the business is going
  • Where it should go
  • How to get there

If, as a leader of the organization, you aren’t asking those tough questions….who is?

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