Rut Resolution: 8 Great Ways To Foil Small Business Stagnation To Accelerate Growth

Growth acceleration strategies to reinvigorate your business, strengthen your team, and help to ensure your business maintains forward momentum


The US Bureau of Labor Statistics report revealed that nearly half of all small businesses fail within the first four years of their existence. While there are many proven causes, including owner incompetence, inexperience, fraud, and neglect - one killer culprit often flies under the radar: stagnation. Indeed, losing momentum, with respect to revenues, market share and other mission critical indicators is one sure fire sign that an entrepreneurial endeavor is in grave trouble.

The good news is that a stagnated organization can take a number of proactive tactical measures, many fairly easily instituted, to turn the tide, spur change and, in doing so, kick the growth engine back into gear. Knowing she would have some insights, I connected with self-professed 'Bosspreneur' Becky A. Davis of MVPwork LLC. Not surprisingly, she offered a great number of strategies that entrepreneurs can employ right now to spark short-term progress.

The following are eight of her concepts that really resonated with me, also because they’re each highly effective within the framework of a long-term strategy for sustained growth.

1. Be a better ‘Bosspreneur’

An entrepreneur is defined as a person who takes a risk and starts a business or enterprise to make money. Bosspreneurs do the same, but they also have written and quantifiable targets, goals, and actions. Not only focusing on staff and other external variables, they focus on self-improvement and believe they can and should learn from others. Bosspreneurs accept responsibility. They are open to change and they want others to succeed. They consistently break down barriers. A Bosspreneur does not just own a business, they own their behavior.

2. Promote ingenuity with immediate impacts

Ask employees, customers, partners, and vendors this question: ‘What three things would you change right now that would impact the company this month or quarter?’ No group is too ‘unimportant’ or 'insignificant' to offer valuable advice, opinions, and perspective. Hold internal weekly brainstorming sessions with staffers for creating and collaborating on innovative ideas, such as streamlining processes for speed and efficiency. Create a task force to document, analyze, prioritize, and take tactical action on those ideas you feel will have an immediate impact on the business, and then, segue to those where the benefit will be realized longer term. When things stabilize, continue to do this once a month or quarter at the very least.

3. Be a stickler for staff accountability

As a business owner, it’s important to continually challenge your team and hold them accountable for activities resulting in measurable growth. Once you have set clear expectations and provided training and coaching, step back and give staffers the autonomy needed to perform the clearly articulated duties expected from them. Don’t micro-manage, but do require regular progress reports so you can recalibrate as needed, and remain proactive rather than reactive. If performance does not improve, it's time for an accountability conversation. Have this conversation sooner rather than later, as the longer you wait for improvement, the worse the situation will become for you and your team.

4. Identify and resolve conflicts and unsavory politics

Conflicts, whether they are between personnel, staff, and vendors, or even within the supply chain, can directly affect your company’s bottom line. Work to resolve those inevitable workplace conflicts so the company can come out even stronger on the other side. Do not forget, everyone is watching what you, as a leader, will do, or, as importantly, don't do. Taking a 'wait and see' approach or hoping the situation will just pass is not a solution, it is more likely it will foster a toxic work environment, often perpetuated by low performers, which can cause high performers to seek employment elsewhere.

5. Play all positions

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra gave LeBron James the nickname ‘1-through-5’ for his ability to play and defend all five positions on the floor - an ability that earned James three NBA titles and four MVP awards. It is just as important for small business owners to be able to adjust and flex to their employees' thinking styles to inspire an all-star performance from the team. Small business owners should be able to be similarly named ‘1 through-4’, based on the four critical thinking styles: 1) the Analyzer - only seeks the facts without the emotion, 2) the Organizer – detail oriented, structured, and procedures-orientated, 3) the Synthesizer – big picture people that are imaginative and excel at holistic in their thinking, 4) and the Harmonizer – always empathetic, emotional, and expressive person, who seeks ways for people to get along. As a leader, to get the best productivity and create high-performance teams and third party relationships, you need to be able to play all four of these communicating positions, based on how others naturally think, rather than how you naturally think.

6. Even during hard times, give praise and rewards

When things are not going as well as expected, going out of your way to recognize and reward even small successes can re-invigorate key players and the team at large, fostering a renewed fighting spirit. Rewards don't have to cost money. It could be an extended lunch hour, thank you email, or a word of encouragement. Employees get nervous when things are tough, but if you increase your communication during those tough times, it will ease some of the tension. Always give credit where it’s due - create formal monthly honors or reward programs that recognize employees company-wide, at any level, for their developing ideas and solutions that have a tangible beneficial impact on the bottom line.

7. Invest in top talent

According to the Salesforce research compiled from 3,800 small business leaders, growing small businesses prioritize talent retention at a much higher rate than large enterprises. As a business owner, surround yourself with the smartest and best talents, so it's possible to propel your company to the next level. Invest the time to find those superstars - even on a part-time consultative or contract capacity, if you can’t afford to hire them full-time. The ideation, energy, and optimism that comes from high-caliber staffers can be contagious and give the entire company a boost.

8. Pay it forward

As a business owner, take an active role in the community through pro bono work on boards and committees. Such activities often proffer new networking opportunities, enhance the image of the company and its figurehead, and drive good publicity - all of which can reinvigorate revenues. Sometimes, when you pull yourself away from the business and serve someone else, it helps to clear your mind. Giving always has a way of coming back to you.

If your company got stuck in a rut, don't wait another day to change the course with the hope that somehow, things will turn around without serious intervention. Taking immediate action and implementing growth acceleration strategies like those above will reinvigorate your business, strengthen your team, and help to ensure your business maintains forward momentum.



Branding, business and entrepreneurship success pundit, Merilee Kern, MBA, is an influential media voice and lauded Communications Strategist. She also serves as the Executive Editor of "The Luxe List” through which she spotlights noteworthy brand endeavors. Merilee may be reached online at Follow her on Twitter here: and Facebook here:

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