Momentum Podcast: 308

Lean Into Bottlenecks And Constraints

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

If your business has plateaued I'll ask you, where are you feeling bottlenecks & constraints? Where could you be holding the business back? As entrepreneurs, we are hardwired to press forward and always be in momentum. Most of the time when we feel uncomfortable about something in our business, that is a place where we need to lean in because our discomfort is almost always pointed at a deficit in the business. You will always experience bottlenecks and constraints as long as your business is growing. If you’re not experiencing issues of any kind, chances are your business isn’t growing or you just don't know where they are.

Full Audio Transcript

As entrepreneurs that are out trying to change the world, trying to make things better, trying to make a bigger impact, sell more, do more, create a bigger profit and grow our businesses, we will do anything to avoid what makes us uncomfortable, but the reality is, that's exactly what we should be leaning into and finding our bottlenecks and constraints.

As entrepreneurs, we're optimists, we want to be moving forward, making things happen in momentum and feeling that rush of achievement, of moving things forward, of changing the world. And we will do anything to stay in that place.

In fact, a lot of us, myself included have created a pattern in our lives where when we're uncomfortable with something, that is the last place we will lean into, the last place we'll actually pay attention and when we're uncomfortable, it becomes the thing we actively avoid. Here's why that is such a massive challenge. As entrepreneurs, most of the time when we feel discomfort around something, when we feel uncomfortable about something in our business, that is a place where we need to lean in because our discomfort is almost always pointed at a deficit in the business. But here's the issue, because we are hardwired like we are to press forward, to go forward, to try to always be a momentum, we will lean away from, we will shy away from, we will turn away from, we will work on anything but the place that is making us feel like there is a bottleneck or constraint.

In fact, we will put time into anything else in the business before we lean into what is making us most uncomfortable, and for a lot of us and again, myself included, there's a reason why I've created the systems that I have, we will avoid where we're most uncomfortable and where we're most uncomfortable is usually the greatest indication of where there is a deficit in the business, that if we fix it, it will change everything. If we move it forward, if we can create momentum there, it's going to move the entire business forward. So as entrepreneurs, we have to refocus and start leaning into where we feel bottlenecks or constraints. We need to start looking at, how do we create systems around identifying bottlenecks and constraints, because we need to make them what we think about rather than what we don't think about.

In fact, here's a key to growing your business. The more you lean into bottlenecks, constraints, what slowing you down, the operational drag you're feeling, the more you document and write about it and get it out in the open and talk about it with your team, the more your business will grow. Here's what most entrepreneurs do, and again there's a reason why the statistics are so terrible, why only three out of 100 entrepreneurs ever break $1 million in revenue. The reason is, most of us when there's bottlenecks, constraints, when we're feeling those things, we do anything we can to avoid them. We will work around them, we will create infrastructure around them, instead of just taking them head on and making them get out of the way. And when there's bottlenecks and constraints, it's what we will use to actually burn ourselves out, because here's what I know most entrepreneurs will do.

See if this sounds the slightest bit familiar because I know this is what I've done for years. When we feel a bottleneck or constraint that is where we will take our own time, our own discretionary time, our own discretionary efforts and we'll apply it to that place. We actually try and do the work ourselves. It's almost subconscious that when we feel a bottleneck or constraint, we don't ask for help, we just try and get it done because when we're feeling that bottleneck, that constraint, that operational drag that makes us feel insecure and rather than admit it to somebody else who could help us with it, we will burn ourselves out around it. We will actually exhaust ourselves trying to fix it. And here's the easier way to do this, document the places where you're feeling uncomfortable, and I'm putting this in plain language, I didn't say document where your bottlenecks and constraints, I said document where you're feeling uncomfortable.

I work exclusively with fast growth businesses, companies that are growing really, really ... a lot faster than the average, a lot faster than what most companies do. I was just on my weekly call and this came up several times. I'm working with Emily Hirsh who is growing one of the fastest growing ads company or ads agencies in the country right now. She does Facebook advertising for a ton of very well known people, including me and then people who are much better known than I am, believe me. Emily has a resume that's incredible of who she's worked with and who she is working with. And what is happening in her business is she's feeling bottlenecks and constraints right now around sales and around all of the people that she has to talk to on strategic calls and around how much she's actually doing in the business. And here's what will happen to most of us in that situation.

We will just keep doing it harder, and for more hours, and with more energy, and more effort, and more of our focus, instead of looking up and saying, "Wait, how do I take care of this? And I know Emily is going to figure out a way past this because six months ago she was feeling a different type of bottleneck and constraint, she documented it, we wrote it down, we figured it out back then, it was the constraint of having to manage every single process in her business, because she didn't have any managers that were helping her lead people. And that constraint has been taken care of. She got managers who are helping lead people, there's a lot more product to deliver, she can take on a lot more and now we've figured out the next constraint. And here's the reality about her business and every other business, you will always experience bottlenecks and constraints as long as your business is growing.

If you're not experiencing constraints or bottlenecks or issues of any kind, chances are your business isn't growing or you just don't know where they are, because the more we grow a business, the bigger it gets, the more people are involved, the more clients are involved, the more opportunity for deficit and issues there is. And so we just have to be realistic, if we're going to grow a business, we have to accept the fact that there will be issues and challenges, and so we should always lean into where we're feeling that deficit, that constraint, that issue. One of my other clients, Laura Alvarado who is a incredible business owner. She runs a couple of gyms and soon to be expanding to a lot more, and she's one of those leaders that has gotten her team together, she's gone the processes together. Every position in her business is documented, and she is also five months pregnant and going to have a baby in a few months.

And she was on a call tonight and she asked a simple question. She said, "You know, I don't know why but I'm feeling all of this anxiety around what would happen to me if something happens to the business?" Well, I shared with her, one of the reasons is, she's pregnant. I've worked with enough women now who have had babies that while I'm working with them, including my wife, in the process of getting ready to have a baby, women become very protective. There's like a different set of systems and processes that run in your head and one of them is, "Hey, is everybody taking care of? Is everything okay around me? Is the house okay? Are the systems okay? Or is my family okay? Or is my husband okay? Is my business okay?" And Laura's feeling that right now. In a lot of terminology referring to pregnancy, they call it nesting or preparing or getting ready and she's going through that.

And my comment to her was, "Well lean into this feeling of wanting to be prepared in case anything happens to you. You're literally going to have a baby and you're going to have some down time, so this is a rational feeling." And I said, "You know Laura one of the things that you can do is, document your position. Your business runs like a tap, but do you have your position documented? What you do on a weekly and daily basis to make sure that the business does well?" And she said, "You know it's funny, I've got every other position documented but not mine." Well, what does that tell us? That is an actual deficit in the business, because if something happened to Laura, we wouldn't have the processes and systems and structure for her to be able to move ... for someone else to be able to move the business forward. So not only was it not an irrational feeling, it's a total rational thought.

Laura has been a business owner for a long time, she's incredibly talented. Her feelings of deficit, her feelings of exposure, we need to lean into those because they're real. And so now she's going to document her position, it's going to make her feel more comfortable, it's going to ensure that if something did happen to her, she had to take some extended time off, or she was injured, or for whatever reason, somebody else had to step in they would be able to. So by leaning into that uncomfortable feeling, by leaning into that bottleneck, that constraint feeling, Laura actually identified a place where she can make the business much stronger and I know because I've watched entrepreneurs go through this tons of time, that as she documents that position, as she clears up the confusion or frustration or that feeling of bottlenecks that she's feeling, she's going to be a lot more willing to run the business both consciously and subconsciously. Not just run the business but grow the business.

She's going to be a lot more willing to grow the business. And so, when we take care of bottlenecks and constraints, when we get them out of the way, both consciously and subconsciously we push more for business growth. So if your business has been plateaued, if it hasn't been growing, if you're not getting to where you want to be, I ask, where are you feeling bottlenecks and constraints? Where could you possibly be holding the business back? Because if you don't take care of these, again you will subconsciously or consciously hold the business back. You won't grow it as fast as you could. You won't do everything you could to bring business into the business because you know that there's issues there. So one of the practices that I recommend for every entrepreneur is part of the process we teach all of our clients, is to sit down in the morning and while you're in planning and solitude, we have our clients do four things.

Number one, set their intention for the day. Write down everything you intend to do that day and what is your intention for all the meetings, all the interactions you're going to have, what do you want out of them? Two, write down where you were uncomfortable yesterday. Start keeping an inventory of what made you uncomfortable because that inventory is going to be exactly where you have bottlenecks and constraints, and you going to start to address them. And even if you don't know how to take care of them today, even if you don't have a clue what you're going to do to make the bottlenecks and constraints go away or where you are uncomfortable go away, start writing it down, it will draw focus to you and you will see it will change.

Three, we have entrepreneurs write out their to do list and then at the very end select the top three things you're going to do every day. That's how all of our clients plan, that's how all of our team plans and that's how I would suggest you plan, and pay special attention to documenting where you were uncomfortable yesterday. Write down where you were uncomfortable and you will see it start to shift. Most entrepreneurs want to ignore where they're uncomfortable and just keep working. I want you to work smarter not harder, I want you to get more done with less time, effort, energy and focus, and I want your business to grow fast so you can come work with us and we'll help you grow even faster.

So lean in to your bottlenecks, lean into the constraints, it's exactly where you need to focus next to grow your business. And if you're ready to grow your business faster than you ever thought possible, go to, September 13th and 14th you can join me, with a group of some of the most talented entrepreneurs on the planet, we're going to be going through our systems of how you grow and scale fast, how you plan forward strategically with your team and how you build the business around exactly what you need, so that you can grow fast, serve your clients and have the company you've always known you should have.

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