Top 3 Priorities for a Business Stuck in a Brick Wall

Top 3 Priorities for a Step Up phase business stuck in a Brick Wall. In Blackboard Fridays Episode 60, Jacob talks about Business Lifecycle. Need this implemented into your business? Talk to the international business advisor who can do exactly that – Contact Jacob, Learn More, or Subscribe for Updates.

The journey of a business owner is undoubtedly an emotional roller-coaster. Survive long enough (and most companies don’t) and your success and growth will be rewarded with the sensation that you are completely stuck in a brick wall with no hope of every moving through it.

Don’t despair! This is the Step Up phase of the business lifecycle, and there are 3 priorities for a business feeling stuck to help them move through and become optimistic and hopeful once again. Watch this week’s episode to learn what they are.

And as a reminder…

Every business moves through the same lifecycle. EVERY. Business. Understand the business lifecycle, as it applies to your business and where every one of your clients is situated, is so fundamental an entrepreneurial skill that the lifecycle sits atop my Contextual Business Plan and was the topic of #BlackboardFridays Episode 1 way back in 2016.

To support your leadership journey, I’m currently diving deeper into each of the four phases in the lifecycle: Start Up, Scale Up, Step Up, and Sell Up.

Wherever you are in your business, one of these will have immediate relevance. If your clients are also business owners or businesses, then watching each of these will help you better understand, service, and sell to your customers.

Who is Jacob Aldridge, Business Coach?

“The smart and quirky advisor who gets sh!t done in business.”

Since April 2006, I’ve been an international business advisor providing bespoke solutions for privately-owned businesses with 12-96 employees.

At this stage you have proven your business model, but you’re struggling to turn aspirations into day-to-day reality. You are still responsible for all 28 areas of your business, but you don’t have the time or budget to hire 28 different experts.

You need 1 person you can trust who can show you how everything in your business is connected, and which areas to prioritise first.

That’s me.

Learn more here. Or Let’s chat.


Welcome to the third part in our understanding of The Business Lifecycle.

A reminder that understanding this framework gives you a key competitive advantage for understanding your business and your team, as they go through their journey within your business. And if you spend time in B2B sales, you can understand where your clients are on their journey, and therefore target the ideal clients for you by having an ideal conversation with them about their emotions and their needs.

The Step Up Phase: What a Brick Wall

Business, especially private enterprise, is an emotional journey.

Often, it can feel like we’re stuck in a brick wall. If that’s you, if you are stuck wading through molasses, trying to find the justification to get out of bed every day, pushing hard to keep the business going despite all of that emotion that’s sitting on your shoulders, I say: Congratulations.

Half of all businesses that start in Australia fail to clear that first speed bump. They fail to get the revenue and momentum they need to get their business actually up and running.

Many more business going through the Scale Up phase over five or ten years will trip over a hurdle. They’ll build up such a freight train, uncontrolled growth, that the business will implode before they even get a chance to really nurture it and to get the profit that they need out of it.

So if you are down in this red well, in the Step Up phase of business stuck in a brick wall, then you have survive those two elements that kill a majority of Australian businesses. And that’s why congratulations are in order.

Busting through a Brick Wall

But you know you can’t wallow in that congratulations for too long. We’ve got to get you out of that brick wall as quickly as we possibly can.

On an average, I find businesses after 15-20 years are stuck in this space. They long for the “good old days”. They remember what it was like back here, backwards, and unfortunately we can’t go backwards in time. We can only go forward.

So, how does it feel? Well, apathy can start to kick in. Your business is your baby, but it’s hard to love it when it’s kicking you in the guts every day (instead of helping pick you up and energize you). That apathy combined with the frustration and stress that’s been building can give way to despair.

I see a lot of great businesses around the world, businesses that go through exactly the same journey, and when they reach the Step Up phase the business owner shuts the doors on their operations. Not because it’s not profitable, not because it’s not successful, but just because emotionally they couldn’t face the prospect of having to walk through those front doors one more time.

The Despair is Normal

If you’ve ever felt like that, if you’re feeling like that, please understand that is actually a very normal and natural feeling for a business owner at this point in the business lifecycle.

The reason it may not feel normal is because when you go to conferences, read articles on websites, or listen to podcasts then the focus is almost always the fun and relaxed business owners in Scale Up phase.

They have stories about how everything’s relaxed and fun and euphoric, and they’re the poster child of how to be successful in business, and it’s a complete crock of shit. Because you are here, you have survived that Scale Up implosion that they haven’t even faced yet, you are a success in business – even if it doesn’t feel like that.

(I call this trap “Copying the Wrong Homework” – businesses, usually in Start Up or Step Up, thinking they should copy strategies or tactics from Scale Up or Sell Up phase businesses. But what works in one phase won’t necessarily work in another.)

So the despair is normal, AND we need to get you out of that. We need to shift you from despair into optimism. Into realizing that you can make changes in your business, you can take those little baby steps forward to pull yourself out of the brick wall, to start climbing back up this energy journey, and to head towards the next phase in the business lifecycle.

The Top 3 Priorities of a Step Up Phase Business

So what is it you need to do? Definitely not big fancy overarching strategy.

1. Business by Design

We need to get down into the nitty-gritty, start to release the energy, release the stuff that’s sitting in your business. I call it Business by Design. It’s unpicking a lot of the key decisions that worked for you in the past, but aren’t working for you now.

This covers the whole range of the Contextual Business Plan. Go back to episode 50 and watch it in some detail if you want to understand all of the different decisions you’ve made – in particular the 12 key contextual decisions that you’ve made successfully, but which now you need to review.

Almost certainly, there are two or three of those that got you a great place in the past but are now holding you back. Step Up, break something that may not seem broken, and design your new businesses with some different decisions.

2. RNR For Rest ‘n’ Recuperation

Step 2, R’n’R, our Roles ‘n’ Responsibilities to give you Rest ‘n’ Relaxation.

Again, review our Blackboard Friday’s episode where we’ve gone into some detail about all the different aspects of roles and responsibilities. My key point is this: at this stage in the Business Lifecycle you are probably holding on to too much. You’ve got too much experience to be doing a lot of the tasks that you are doing. You need to start letting go of those into your team in order to grow.

Managing the step by step process in doing that, so if your team are energized and the business can do it profitably and successfully, can take a little bit of time. This is one of my favourite strategic projects with my clients, refocusing up to 100 employees to have the right person doing the right job at the right time with the right skills.

It’s well worth the investment you need to make.

3. Product and Market Refresh

The third key priority for business in the Step Up phase, stuck in that brick wall, needing to step up and face the new challenges, is undertaking a Product and Market Refresh.

You have a massive competitive advantage. Start Ups might have all their joyful, enthusiastic energy … but you have decades of experience in business to draw upon.

You have an opportunity to do the best of what they do, with a much better understanding of the market. If you can evolve your product and service, and take it out to the market in a new way, along with those internal changes that you’re making, that’s what creates the optimism for you and the energy to take you through to the next ,the fourth, the Sell Up phase of the Business Lifecycle.

How to Sell to a Step Up Phase Business

Lastly, if you’re selling into a Step Up business. There are many businesses in this brick wall across the world, and they can be a great client category to have if you understand their needs and their motivation.

They’re not going to jump at the big, fancy, la-di-da promise. They’re going to jump at practical, realistic, and meaningful. If you can communicate to them how your solution can slowly but surely get them out of that brick wall, then you are going to be head and shoulders above so many other salespeople that are trying to be all things to all people.

Understand that this is a painful phase for business owner to be. But they didn’t start a business because they were scared, they started a business because they were courageous, because they were willing to take risks.

And the next risk they’re going to take is changing what used to work, in order to create a better future for them and their team.

Next Steps

Want to learn more about how this can apply to your business? It costs nothing to chat:

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