That line on the sales graph has stopped climbing, hasn’t it?
For months, it was soaring and heading past numbers that were once a pipe dream.
Now, it’s plateaued and doesn’t appear to be budging.
Achieving sustainable growth in any business is tricky, but it’s particularly tough in the world of the social enterprise. To create a business where society profits, you need to mix commercial nous with a desire to change society.
Along that journey, you might encounter one (or several) of the following six growth inhibitors:
1. Failing to keep the best people
Staff retention is an ongoing concern for businesses of all sizes.
People are the beating heart of every operation. Without them, there’s simply no way business goals can be reached or customers fully satisfied.
And let’s not forget that, without people, innovation is completely impossible.
Keeping the best people is therefore absolutely vital. If you’re spending more time writing ‘good luck’ cards and welcoming new starters than you are conducting on-going appraisals, something’s wrong.
2. Managing cashflow ineffectively
Running a social enterprise is exciting and extremely rewarding, but it’s just like any other business when it comes to the nuts and bolts.
And those nuts and bolts are usually rather boring. Sorry.
Unfortunately, they usually relate to the stuff that keeps the operation taking over, too.
Take cashflow, for example. Ignore it or place it south on your list of priorities and it’ll prevent the enterprise from growing – or worse.
3. Not preserving the social enterprise’s ethos
When you started your social enterprise, you had a core ethos that drove your decision to kick it into action. But you may since have fallen into a common trap.
As time draws on, an organisation’s ethos may dilute as the day-to-day running of the business takes over.
This is a perilous position to fall into, because the ethos is one of the main drivers of growth. It’s the reason you started, the reason people will become customers of your social enterprise and the thing that will tempt people to become brand advocates.
4. Poor (or no) delegation
As a social enterprise grows, the tasks required to keep it both afloat and capable of sustained growth become more complex and far-reaching.
If you’re still doing everything yourself as the founder, or have retained a bunch of duties that you know, deep-down, should be carried out by someone else, there’s simply no way you’ll be able to focus on growth.
5. Taking poor advice
We all need our friends in business, but the wrong friends giving the wrong advice can quickly send us down paths that aren’t in the best interests of the social enterprise.
Go on your gut instinct when it comes to advice. If something sounds too good to be true or highly implausible, it probably is.
Too much bad advice will present your organisation from growing, as you become more reliant on people who don’t understand the business’s core ethos.
6. An ineffective web presence
When was the last time you tweeted?
What about the blog? Is that post from 2015 really the last time you published something?
When prospective customers, partners or investors decide to look at your social enterprise, they’ll almost certainly check out the presence it has beyond its website.
If your social profiles and blog are lying dormant, some may even assume you’ve shut up shop or decide you’re simply not worth contacting if you don’t take digital seriously.
The above list is certainly non-exhaustive, but it does represent the most common limiting factors in business when it comes to growth.
Your social enterprise is capable of sustained growth, no matter the industry within which it sits or the seemingly bleak outlook your sales graph currently offers.
Go get it!