23/09/10

By Claire West

A team of business turnaround experts are offering their advice to companies determined to flourish and grow despite the current economic climate.

Achievement Coaching International, who have over 120 years of experience between them, have put together their top six barriers to growth.

Barriers range from failing to distinguish the product offering to an inability to recruit and retain good employees - all can be hugely damaging if they're not identified and tackled.

The economic climate has made it difficult for businesses to develop a strategy for growth but business coach Terry Murphy believes companies need to begin to look forward.

He claims that with the right guidance, a clear picture of what your company does and where it aspires to be, even the most 'stuck in its ways' business can flourish.

Terry said: "It's very easy put up barriers to growth subconsciously - the key is breaking through them in order to see the way to achieve your maximum potential.

"There are few training courses, if any, that can help you do this. Even then, do you have the time to learn by solving case studies which are irrelevant to you or your business? Books will tell you what and how others did it which is not really very helpful because your business makes its own demands.

"Business leaders rarely have to look outside their organisation to answer 'how could I do these things'. They invariably have most if not all of answers within them without knowing they are there. These answers just need unlocking. The answer is to help them learn how to think differently to see what they have not seen before."

Terry has put together his top six barriers:

1. A failure to distinguish your product and/or service in the marketplace

Even being a really good 'me-too' is not enough. Re-examine your products and services and how they relate to the emerging needs of your customers. Highlight those aspects which distinguish your business from those of your competitors - it's about being different and being seen to be better.

2. Letting your competitors set the trading agenda

Examine your opportunities to take a leadership position in some aspect of your market and marketing - again you need to be different and be the first.

3. Selling your products / services at the same price-points in the same way

How many different ways could a potential customer gain access to the benefits your products or services offer? Be different and easier to do business with.

4. Changing too fast, not changing enough, taking too many risks

This comes down to investing in sustained changes in your business to the point where 'change' becomes a seamless aspect of what you do. It's about being effectively and consistently different because you are clear about
what the difference needs to be, and why.

5. Managing 'change', not leading it

Only you can help your team change but it requires inspirational, authentic and supportive leadership of change so your employees have the confidence and competence to think differently. This is when your company's 'normal' is
everybody else's' 'different'.

6. Being too busy chasing your relentless 'task-list'

Being a slave to a task-list, coupled with being too reactive will ensure you and your business will be anchored to the spot. Adopt a process-based way of working. Think and act holistically taking into account and responding to all the factors affecting performance in a coherent and coordinated way.

Murphy continued; "A good business coach is able to help you unlock your thinking, help you view your issues and opportunities differently and, through a process of exploration and discovery, help you find the answers you need to breakthrough the barriers to growth and in particular sustained growth.

"When coaching and coaching skills become part of leadership values and management behaviours, then quite startling improvements in business performance follow. This is because individuals, teams and organisations are able to make their own learning breakthrough to discover how to thrive in the future."