Momentum Podcast: 286

Embrace Bottlenecks And Constraints

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

Unless we prepare for future constraints, we won't be prepared for growing the structure within our business. If you don't plan for the future, the only way you understand when there is constraint is by feeling pain in the present.

Full Audio Transcript

I'm Alex Charfen and this is the Momentum podcast, made for empire builders, game changers, trail blazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers, and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum, so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure, we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny, we define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop, and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future. And instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters. Clearly the most important people in the world, because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution, and we always will be.

Embrace bottlenecks and constraints. You may be thinking, "What did he just say? Isn't Alex always the guy who's telling us to eliminate constraints, stay in momentum, stay away from anything that slows you down?" Well, absolutely. However, you get to a point of growth in your business where you're growing your organization, growing your team, and you have to learn how to embrace bottlenecks and constraints. And here's what I mean by that. This goes back to my podcast just a couple days ago, on the book "The Goal," on the theory of constraints. What happens in growing a business is that you have to learn how to not just develop a radar for finding the bottlenecks and constraints, but you have to be able to go out and embrace them and understand them and dig into them. Which is the opposite of what most business owners do.

Here's the challenge. What most business owners do is that they mentally avoid bottlenecks and constraints. They mentally try and work on the part of the business that's going well. They don't look at the fact that, "Hey, we have way too many leads coming in and not enough sales people to call on them," or, "We have way too many clients coming in and not enough customer service people to work with them," or, "We have way too much going on and the team hasn't been built to the place where we really need it to be, and we're about to hit massive bottlenecks and constraints."

We avoid them, we look the other way, because it's so much easier to deal with something that isn't an acute problem right now, but the issue is, unless we embrace bottlenecks and constraints, we are never going to grow at the rate we can. And here's how this shift occurs. You have to mentally switch from saying, "I don't want to find the issues in my business," to saying, "The issues in my business are a function of growth. When there's challenges in my business, it means we are making things happen."

When we hit bottlenecks and constraints, you only hit bottlenecks and constraints due to growth, due to outgrowing the system that you're in, due to outgrowing the structure that you're in. So this should be a cause for celebration every time that it happens. But the problem for us as entrepreneurs is that bottlenecks and constraints usually mean massive pain. Let me tell you why. See, the vast majority of companies that I've ever worked with or talked to, in fact I talked to two today that are considering joining our Grow And Scale program. I think we'll probably end up getting both. The vast majority of companies have no forward planning structure of any kind. So when you don't have a forward planning structure, bottlenecks and constraints are only discovered in one way. You figure out the problem you just had. You find a solution for the issue that's happening right now. You have to find a fire extinguisher to put out the fire that's burning as you are in it. Because when you don't have a forward planning system, you can't anticipate what will happen next, and you are always dealing with a bottleneck or constraint that has already happened, and that is functionally exhausting.

When in the present, what you're really doing is trying to fix a problem that just occurred, you literally feel like a fire fighter running around all the time with a tiny little bucket, trying to put enough water on all the fires to keep them out, but it feels like whack-a-mole. For every fire that you put out, two more pop up. And it's overwhelming. Here's how we move towards embracing bottlenecks and constraints.

First, go back a couple episodes, listen to the podcast that I did on "The Goal," and go read the book by Eli Goldratt. It is by far the best book on the theory of constraints out there. And in addition to that book, create a forward planning structure in your business where you are predicting what you're going to do, where you have a strategic plan for what you're going to do. Here's how we work with the business owners we consult with. We put together a one-year strategic plan that we update on a monthly basis, that gets major updates on a quarterly basis. Our plans are malleable and adjustable enough that it allows for entrepreneurial creativity, but it still keeps the whole company going in the right direction. And when you create a forward looking plan, here's what ends up happening. You can look at that forward looking plan, anticipate what's going to happen next, and start understanding what resources you need, what people you need, what issues are going to come up, what bottlenecks and constraints you're going to hit that you can take care of now.

And what happens in the scenario where you're forward planning is that you can truly embrace bottlenecks and constraints because they become something you're looking for. Because here's what happens. Instead of bottlenecks and constraints being something that you're dealing with historically, a problem that just happened, you're trying to figure out how to put out the fire that is burning as you are standing there, when you have a forward looking plan and you can put together where your business is going and you can anticipate what's coming next, you can look at the environment around you and say, "What are we going to need? Where are we going to fall short? Where do we need reinforcements or help or people or systems or strategies or a project or a process, so that we don't feel the bottlenecks and constraints?"

And here's what happens. When you create a forward looking plan, you will completely reconfigure the way that you look at issues in your business. Let me explain why. When you don't have a forward looking plan, you only find issues in one way. 99% of the time what happens is, you are reacting to an issue that has just or is occurring. When you create a forward looking plan and you have a strategy for what's going to happen next, you can find issues that are coming at you. You can find issues that have not actually boiled over yet, and you can anticipate where bottlenecks and constraints will come from. And what that does for an entrepreneurial mind is, instead of avoiding issues, because we all know we've done this. If you've been an entrepreneur for any period of time, then you, like me, have to admit that you've avoided problems in your business.

I'll be transparent and real with you. I've done it. I've done it more than once. I've done it in places where I think about it afterwards and I think, "How could I possibly have been trying to avoid this?" It wasn't going to go away. It wasn't going to change. It wasn't going to just fix itself. I had to do something about it. But when you have no forward looking strategy, it's hard to go face all of your issues and problems and challenges.

Now, when you have a forward looking plan and you know where you're going, suddenly, issues look completely different than they did the day before. Because what you're doing is you're literally predicting where your bottlenecks are going to be, you're predicting where the constraint is going to come from, and you're fixing it before it happens. This rewiring, this reorganization of how we think is exactly what needs to occur so that we can grow our company to its maximum potential. Because if you're going to be an entrepreneur who wants to grow a massive organization without a forward looking plan, then I want you to know something. That massive organization is going to be a day-to-day struggle in fixing the problem that just occurred. When you can't plan forward, when you don't have strategic planning, you are always functionally going to be trying to fix the problem that just occurred. You won't be anticipating what's coming next, and you won't be able to put the solutions in place before they get there.

And by rewiring, by planning forward, by saying where you're going to go and predicting what's going to happen moving forward, you also can completely change the way you and your organization plan your business forward.

See, as entrepreneurs, so often we get stuck in our heads that we want this perfect business, or a business that has no challenges, no issues, no problems. A business that doesn't even experience bottlenecks and constraints. Well, the only people selling you that are consultants that really don't know how to grow a business or they wouldn't ever say that. The fact is, growth creates complexity. Your business's growth will create bottlenecks. It will create constraints. The more you grow, the more there will be, and the faster you grow, the more quickly they will come at you. So you must anticipate them going forward. You do not want a perfect business. You don't. Because there is no such thing. Well, there is. The only business that's perfect, the only business that has no issues, the only business experiencing no turmoil at all is the one that has just closed. And I don't want you to go out of business, I want you to grow a thriving business that makes a massive contribution, that has tons of momentum, and will move you forward.

What you want is not a perfect business. You want a business that's adaptable and malleable, where your team can handle any issue. Businesses don't exist in a perfect environment. We're in a thing called the market, we deal with these random variables called people. We have to create our outcomes in an increasingly complicated environment most of the time. And by planning forward, we can make sure that we are anticipating where we will be next and keep our momentum going.

So this transition from avoiding bottlenecks and constraints, to embracing them, to seeking them out, to looking for them and then correcting them, is the transition that if you are under seven figures right now, will get you over seven figures. And if you're over seven figures, congratulations. Because if you've gotten there without a forward looking plan, then you are far more talented and capable than the vast majority of entrepreneurs out there. And if you are over seven figures and you make the shift to including a forward looking plan, everything in your business will shift. Because you will go from being the entrepreneur who is putting out the fire that was just lit to being the entrepreneur that's doing fire prevention, building forward, and making sure that you don't hit the bottlenecks and constraints that you would've otherwise.

Embrace bottlenecks and constraints and you will grow at a rate you previously didn't think was possible. And if you're ready to become the type of entrepreneur that can predict what's going to happen next and understand where you need to head off any type of a bottleneck or constraint, if you want to be the type of entrepreneur who can predict where you're going and then get there successfully, and if you're ready to grow a business around a world-changing team that is aligned and supports you and helps you create momentum, then you owe it to yourself to get on our webinar next week. Go to and join my webinar called "How To Build A World-Changing Team Without Ever Having To Manage People."

Let's move you into a position of strength where you can be a game-changing entrepreneur and make things happen without ever feeling like you're putting out a fire that just got lit. From this point forward, let's anticipate bottlenecks and constraints, knock them out before they get there, and grow your business fast. Go to and join me next week.

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