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Why Owner-Operators Struggle to Grow

b2b blog blogpost business growth business strategy growth sales growth Nov 01, 2023

If you have ever started a business, what were the early days like? I know I remember the learning curves, the long days, and the stress of getting something started. That being said, I also remember how easy it was to put the work into chasing down opportunities. 

I could set the course and get it done. I was the one executing my vision.

But for most owner-operators, something happens along the way that makes growth on a larger scale harder than at the beginning. Simply, the business has grown. It’s bigger, heavier, and more demanding than it was before. 

There are new, hidden problems that keep thwarting your path to growth. 

The result? The dreaded revenue plateau. Flatlined. Not “flatline” as in dead. Rather, “flatline” is locked into a revenue level and not being able to push beyond it.

So, if you find yourself stuck on one of these plateaus (or worse - sliding backwards…), here’s why it’s happening.

I’ve spent the last 20 years helping owner operators in the 2M-30M revenue space reignite their growth. Every business is different, but trust me, the underlying challenge is almost always the same.


Why Is Growth So Hard Now?

The problems your business faced in its early days are much different than the problems affecting you now. While the specific challenges facing you may be unique, they come back to a common root:

An owner-operator is responsible for the high-level strategic vision while still wearing multiple hats in day-to-day operations.

Let me phrase this as a question: Do you find that even when you hire people to oversee important areas, they still look to you for decisions? Do you find that the responsibilities you want to hand off keep coming back to your desk?

I would say 4 out of 5 owner-operators I talk to experience this tension. They want to put more time and focus into their growth plans, but they’re constantly putting out fires or trying to solve mysteries that remain uncracked.

Every business face challenges as it grows, but owner-operators face a unique struggle because of their involvement in day-to-day operations. 

And without a strong, clear strategy for growth in place…


…It’s Usually Strategy That’s Neglected

I’ll be the first to admit: the tyranny of the urgent often wins the fight for the top of my to-do list. While it’s understandable, this is often the root cause of the growth problem. 

When your business has infrastructure – employees, overhead, etc. – strategy is the way you align all of them for maximum value. Many of the growth problems that I see owners have stem from a lack of strategic planning. I’ll give you a few examples:

  • Losing more bids to competitors because of a lack of a clear value proposition.
  • Depending too heavily on one rainmaking salesperson instead of having a system.
  • Struggling to align your marketing promises with your fulfillment experience.

These aren’t isolated problems even if they are specific ones. Your entire business needs to be operating as an efficient revenue system. Like a water pipe, a bad enough clog at any point stops up the whole flow of… money.


A Growth Strategy is a Necessity, Not a Luxury

That’s why I’ll always advocate for high level strategy as a “first things first” priority. It’s a mindset shift. Yes, a fire in front of you is still a fire that needs to be put out. Still, if you keep putting out fires without identifying the root cause, that’s a strategy question. It’s the old saying about an ounce of prevention versus a pound of cure.

Your strategy also goes beyond fixing recurring problems. It’s not a neutral outcome you’re shooting for. A strong strategy aligns your resources to maximize value. It’s essential to a sustainable, meaningful growth line.

I’ll close by asking you this one, simple question.

How are you doing prioritizing your big picture strategy in the midst of day-to-day operations?

If you need some help regaining your strategic footing, here’s my calendar. Let’s grab 15 minutes together and I’ll show you how we diagnose and prescribe the specific actions a business owner must take to get growth back on track. 


How Value Prop Can Help You

One more thing – I never underestimate the value of quick wins. That’s how we build momentum.

Our team put together a mini guide of the top 10 right now actions you can take to get your growth back on track. These aren’t thought exercises – they’re the fastest routes to shake more revenue out of your current situation. 

It’s usually $199, but we’re dropping this in here free as well. Check it out!