In sports, a player’s coach (or coaches) ensures that they stretch before they take to the field. This is all part of ensuring that the sportsperson gives their best performance and can play to their maximum potential without hurting themselves.
In business, we coach business owners to stretch in a slightly different way but to achieve the same result: deliver the best performance without hurting themselves.
When we talk about stretching, we are talking about stretching yourself and your business to achieve more, and move the business forward. This does not just involve working hard in your business, but ensuring you are also working on the right things so that you are achieving the greatest outcome possible.
Let me share with you a framework that may make this whole stretching in business thing a little bit clearer.
Let’s plot a graph with 4 quadrants, where the vertical axis determines your results – going from “similar” to what you are achieving now to “greater” than what you are achieving now. The horizontal axis determines your activity, going from doing “similar” activity to what you are doing now to “different” activity to what you are doing now.
Similar Results for Similar Activity – Stagnate
In the lowest quadrant, we’re talking about when you are coasting along, continuing with the same work, the same profits, and the same stuff that has been happening all along.
While you are not moving backwards, you are also not moving forwards. You are not innovating and you are not increasing the impact of your business in any way.
Here, you are at a stagnate stage. I would venture to say that it can be one of the most boring places to be in business. At least, it is if you have the drive to want to do more, be more, and impact more with what you are doing.
Some people may be satisfied to cruise at this point, but most of the business owners I know are not content with that.
Greater Results with Similar Activity – Systemise
In the next quadrant up, your output has started to increase. Maybe more leads suddenly poured in and you now have lots of customers. You are probably having to work harder – maybe even work longer – in order to keep up. And your profits are growing along with this increased workload.
Sounds like a good place to be right? It might feel like your business is moving forward. But the reality is, your business is ‘growing’ but it is not ‘stretching’. If you are still doing the same kind of work you have always done, in the processes that have always existed, but you are now having to do more of it, then you are simply working more and not stretching out your business muscles.
If you are sitting in this quadrant, then what you need to focus on to move up into stretching is how to systemise. If you are constantly now doing the same things over and over – and that’s generating profit – then create processes to streamline, automate, or delegate that work now, so you can move on to opening new channels, products, and markets.
Similar Results but doing Different Activity – Satisfy
In this quadrant, you are probably working at about the same level and your profits are remaining steady, but you are constantly pivoting, trying new ideas and releasing new products and services.
This too can feel like a good place to be. It feels like you are innovating and doing interesting things. I call this quadrant “satisfy” because many business owners feel a sense of satisfaction or even fulfilment and excitement by the constantly changing environment. Entrepreneurs enjoy discovery, so constantly doing new things can feel like fun.
However, while it definitely is fun and exciting, you are once again not actually stretching your business – or yourself. That should actually already be clear to you, as a shrewd business person, if you are listening to the numbers. Your profits are steady – they’re not increasing. If the output or impact of your business is not increasing, then you cannot call that stretching. You are simply experimenting and testing and measuring.
If you are in this position, then what you need to do is ensure you have a proper business plan in place and that you are consistently paying attention to this plan and reviewing it (preferably quarterly) to avoid being distracted by shiny things. Make sure that if you are moving to try something new, that you are not replacing the things that are working and bringing you profit, and you are instead building in addition to those things you have already tried and tested.
Greater Results and Different Activity – Stretch
So we come to the final quadrant. Here, you can finally feel the stretch. If you are sitting in this quadrant, then I’m sure you already know that stretch feeling we are talking about!
Here, not only are you seeing your profits and results increasing, but you are also changing or expanding the way you do your business. It is that wonderful combination of both increasing your impact, and having fun while you do it. This is what we aim for in every business coaching session.
At an SME level, this might be evident in that you are finally building a marketing funnel; or choosing your niche and marketing avatar; or creating clear inbound marketing strategies; or developing a clear sales process. These are changes where you are systemising and moving forward with your business and if combined with increasing profits, then it is a clear indication that you are stretching and progressing.
In larger businesses, the stretching might be evident in opening up more marketing activation strategies; creating entirely new teams (and better management of those teams); creating parallel marketing funnels for multiple niches and avatars; refining your referral strategies and filling up the upper tiers of your loyalty ladder; or it might even be the creation of new products or services in order to service new markets.
Can you see how when you stretch properly in your business, you need be both doing more, different, and exciting things, but also keeping an eye on your output to ensure you are also progressing in impact and profit as well?
And now can you answer – are you stretching properly in your office?
Want more frameworks to help stretch?
Every quarter we pull together all our clients to get them to assess the next quarter and deliver them tools and systems to help them reach actually achieve their goals.
You can join us and see for yourself how business coaching could provide real, tangible results for you and your business.