Ep 225: What Are Bottlenecks and How To Spot Them

11 Minutes Read

Most business bottlenecks don't exist in the marketplace or the supply chain.

They're between your ears.

That's good news as a business owner or leader, because it means you have real leverage and control for growing your company.

But it's hard to spot those growth-limiting beliefs and habits when they're so close to you. 

This episode will help you with that, as Erin and Steve explore:

  • Common phrases leaders use about their time, team, or bandwidth that reveal major bottlenecks
  • What to do if your area for growth is leadership, vision, money or something else
  • Why bottlenecks are never the systems you use, but the way you think about your challenges

To pinpoint your biggest bottleneck and gain tools to eliminate it, get the free Business Growth Grader by clicking below.

Click Here to  Get the Grader

Watch the video here:


Episode Transcript

Steve Haase  0:05  
Welcome to the podcast, everybody. Today we're talking about business bottlenecks, what they are and how to spot them. The reason this matters is because there's always something that is holding back your growth. There's something in the way of your next leap as a business owner, as a leader as a company. And that's something you can call it a bottleneck. And it's not always easy to see what exactly it is. And so that's what we're going to discuss today is what are some of the common ones, and how to know when you're in the middle of one.

Erin Aquin  1:44  
Yeah, and I think that this is something, it's a tough conversation for a lot of founders and business owners because I mean, I hate to just jump right in and say this in some ways, but usually the bottleneck is you. It's the person like pulling the strings of the business. And I think that most of us get really comfortable. And we get into like our little entrepreneur pods where we can talk to other business owners, and we can say, oh, it's the recession. That's the bottleneck. It's the supply chain. That's the bottleneck. It's the job. Oh, that's, that's the latest one. It's the job market. There's just no good people that you can possibly find to work for your business. But 90% of the time, with the hundreds of business owners, founders and leaders that we've worked with Steve, it does come back to there being some kind of internal static or issue in the mind of the leader.

Steve Haase  2:48  
That's a powerful thing. Because you know, even though at first like, hey, hey, come on, that doesn't feel good. At a closer glance, it's amazing, because that puts the power for your progress and for the growth of your business, in your own hands. So what are some of the common bottlenecks, what might people come across as they look for there?

Erin Aquin  3:16  
I mean, maybe we could start with some of the ones that are easier to spot. So I think some of the bottlenecks that are really easy to spot that like you and I can sit down with someone and within an hour, pretty much tell if they don't have a clear vision and operating values for their business. This is a huge bottleneck. Because if you don't know, the greatest impact you're hoping your business will have in the world. And you don't have a set of operating principles or values through which you run your day to day, you're going to be making emotionally reactive decisions, you're going to be attaching yourself to goals and methodologies and expert opinions that maybe aren't truly aligned with the mission of your business simply because not because there's something wrong with you. But simply because you don't know what that mission is. You don't really thought that through

Steve Haase  4:20  
Well, and what that also looks like is you will be shifting with the winds, any customer complaint, any employee issue, you're gonna run after it because you don't necessarily have a guiding Northstar that keeps you heading towards where you want to go through thick and thin and so not having, it's not about just not having a clear vision. It's about not having a vision that you actually use and reference that you love and that's alive for your business. So that interestingly enough, it seems very esoteric and you know, intangible but that is one of the primary bottlenecks that we see a lot of business owners have.

Erin Aquin  5:02  
Yeah. And I mean, you're, you're preaching to the choir, when it comes to me on this, because I did operate my business as a solo entrepreneur, visionless for a number of years before you join me and really made me do this work. But I remember feeling like vision statements and like core values was like something that corporate people did, they put it on their wall and their website, and it just didn't feel like it was alive. And honestly, I feel like a lot of people run their businesses in a way that's somewhat hypocritical, like, bigger companies sometimes have a vision that they're not actually attempting to live. So I was a little bit cynical about doing that. But I will say that it's a core feature of all of our programs and all of our work with our clients now. And every single time we go through and help someone clarify their vision and get their operating values in place, totally changes their business, it's like, free energy to that's now unblocked. Like if we think about a bottleneck, once we open that up, and we eliminate that blockage, things do happen faster and flow more easily. So that's a really big one. That's yeah. Another one that's easy for us to spot is really around the way the business owner or the leader relates to time and their mindset. Now, of course, we're coaches, so we're going to be like, mindset is the most important thing. And a lot of people will tune that out. But I really think as humans, their time and our energy, these are the most important resources we have. And if we're not thoughtful about how we think about our time, how we plan and use our time, you know, I know so many people who think, Okay, well, I'm gonna grow my business. So that means I need to double my working hours, when that is not necessarily certainly not the only way to do it. But it's not even necessarily in the top 10 best ways to grow your business.

Steve Haase  7:23  
And so by looking at how you use your time, and the thing I hear from leaders all the time is, I don't have the bandwidth for that, and I'm so deep in the weeds, I just don't have the bandwidth to do the more important thing that is a massive bottleneck. And it comes down to how you relate to your time, right, the only reason you would ever be so in the weeds that you couldn't actually deliver, the thing that's most valuable to your business, is if there's something that you're, you know, kind of holding back from your own greatness holding back from your own potential, so that you're not, it's just safer in the weeds, you're protected, like the, you know, a little frog in the pond, there's just like a lot of big stuff around you, nothing bad's gonna get you. But as soon as you step out, and you say, Okay, we're gonna take this thing to the next level, suddenly, you're on a different playing field.

Erin Aquin  8:12  
Yeah, and I think with time, specifically, often people will think the bottleneck is well, I'm just disorganized or you know, I don't have the right calendar system or the right productivity system, when that's very often not the issue. It really is how we're relating to our calendar, how we're thoughtfully choosing what goes on there. What roles and tasks are important for you to do. And which can be delegated to say someone on a team, which brings us to another huge bottleneck for many, many businesses.

Steve Haase  8:53  
Yeah, so your team is going to be one of the biggest bottlenecks? are the right people in the right place? Do they know what they're supposed to be doing? And do they know what it looks like to do it? Well? Did they have the conversations with their leader, even if that leader is you for all of the people on the team? Or if it's the person who's directly managing them about meeting those expectations, and really succeeding at their job? Because in the end, that's what people want is to know, what does it look like to succeed? What does it look like to do this thing? Well, and if you or your team are not holding folks to that level, then you're just operating at less than full power.

Erin Aquin  9:37  
And I think this one takes a lot of humility. A lot of times I'd say that team is can be a massive bottleneck, but it can only be really spotted and found when it's in relationship to another one that you and I have both experienced in other jobs that we have worked in which is the leader to like you, as the business owner, you as the leader, and how you guide your team to glory. I think too often, leaders will say, Well, yeah, I know the problems fully my team, I just, there's all these, like, nobody's doing their job, no one knows what's going on. People are slacking. And if you're not holding the role of leadership, it's going to be easy to blame other people instead of take a look at like, well, who hired all of these people and train them all? Leadership for me in the last couple of years has been a bottleneck for growing your business. I am lucky enough to live with you and work with you, Steve. So I've been able to eliminate this one to a large degree, but you know, I would hire people who were very nice people. And then not manage them. Not give them real feedback, not have meetings with them, not tell them what my expectations were, and then hold so much resentment and like, just wish they would quit. Like, I don't know what's wrong with all the people I hired must be them. No, it was me, I was the bottleneck.

Steve Haase  11:19  
Well, and it's a very common thing, because leadership in the way that we're talking about is not inborn. Right, we're not as humans, we would rather kind of be nice, not rock the boat get along, then hold people accountable, dig into problems that are happening. So that kind of leadership to you know, that many companies need to grow to the next level is something that needs to be trained. It's like a muscle, it's a kind of inner fitness, that that responds well to training but does need focus and guidance.

Erin Aquin  11:55  
100%. And in order for it to get the training it needs. You know, we actually thought about this for our own clients, we have a one of our programs is around helping new managers succeed, how to like actually lead a team. And something that kind of came up in a lot of conversations with people, we could see from the high level view of their business, that that was the bottleneck, their leaders were not acting like leaders, we're not really sure what to do didn't know how to manage people we're putting, we're prioritizing being nice over saying what needed to be said and giving clear, proactive feedback. But the problem was, a lot of times, the owner of the business would have no idea that that was the problem. So one of the things that we've kind of developed over the last little while is what we're calling the business growth rater, which is a tool where you can spend 10 minutes on this, you don't have to spend a long time, but you can go in and really answer some very specific questions, give us a little bit of information. And in that amount of time, clarify what your biggest business bottlenecks are. And when it comes to team and leadership, I think that's probably the most surprising category for people who thought, you know, I think I'm doing pretty well or this is okay, but they get those really laser focused questions from the grader. And they're like, Oh, I'm gonna rate this pretty poorly. Maybe there's some cracks in this foundation I need to take a look at.

Steve Haase  13:39  
And there's something so powerful about having a thinking partner, even if that partner is a set of questions, right, the Grader is an assessment with some checkboxes, and then areas that you like, you can put a paragraph in there. And just being able to look at your business from all these angles, is a valuable thing, just between you and you with these with these questions that we've offered, and that we've kind of gleaned from the clients that we've worked with and the business owners that we've helped. It's gonna give you insights. But then we take a step further, because we really want everybody who's listening to have the business of your dreams, business and life that you want is possible. And we want that for you. And so then we're going to take each assessment and offer a personalized video, me or Aaron, we're going to look it over and share our thoughts on where you're at where you can grow, and what actionable steps you can take to eliminate the bottleneck, kind of the main one that's standing in your way.

Erin Aquin  14:51  
Yeah, this is something we're offering for a little bit of time is this like personalized kind of commentary on what you give So I really encourage people, you can head over to besuperabound.com/grader. Like as in school grades that kind of grader and take some time to fill out that short. It's short assessment, you're going to get clarity right from that moment, you'll understand just from your own answers. Like, I think these might be some issues that will give you clarity. But then, as Steve and I look over, your grader we are going to offer you maybe something you haven't thought of, you know, that's kind of the challenge I've laid for myself as your coach for this is I want to not just say, Oh, your bottleneck is teams. So I think you should fire everyone on your team and hire a new team. We're not going to be suggesting things like that. But it might be, you know, it sounds like communication with your team is it goes down the toilet, every meeting you have somebody has a conflict, somebody gets into a fight. People don't see eye to eye or half your team doesn't say anything. With that, I'm going to offer you some communication tools, some ways in which you can get everyone's participation, even if you have some people on your team who are really introverted and don't like to speak at a meeting because it could be explosive. So that's something that we're offering for a short time with this. It's a free assessment. So there's no cost, it's just a gift that we want to share with you. And I think that for many of us, founders, leaders, entrepreneurs, there is something ingrained in many of us, that makes us think we have to do this all alone, we have to figure out the solutions on our own, we have to have everything in place, if we're going to actually ask for help, we have to know everything, about everything. So we can utilize the asset, we want you to be able to come to the table, take a good honest look at your business, and be courageous enough to share some of that with people like me and Steve, who really want to help you, you know, one thing you're never gonna get from us. First of all, you're never gonna get an F, there's no F on this test, it's not really a test, it's really an opportunity for you to have a snapshot in time of your business. And, you know, we've used this assessment with startup founders who are working on their first six figures, to businesses making three $5 million a year. Awareness is really the first step, and everybody wants to skip it.

Steve Haase  17:46  
So head over to besuperabound.com/grader. And find out how you're doing, we really want to not just help you, but like, give you some magic in your business and leadership life, you know, us, it's not going to be boring, it's not going to be you know, mechanistic, it's going to be full of life, and love and magic, because that is what we're all about. That's what we're here to create. And that's what we want to help you bring to your business. So if you think there is room for your business to grow, and you think that room might be in one of the bottlenecks we mentioned, or even some others, we didn't touch on every single one in the assessment, then head over to the head over to the Grader.

Erin Aquin  18:31  
Yeah, because if you're going to really use this here for growth, if you want to make more money, you want to build that team, you want to scale your business and impact more customers, you have to know what's in your way, we have to see the bottleneck, you have to deal with it. My favorite kind of way of thinking about this is if there's a leak in your basement, the solution is not to close the door, go upstairs and just hope it magically resolves itself. That kind of magic does not happen. Leaks don't go away. The kind of magic we're talking about is helping guide you to a more aligned and amazing business and life which we know is capable for far more businesses and business owners then they think is available. So that's your invitation today, spend 10 minutes with us use the grader. And after you fill out your short assessment and you give us all the dirt, all the details. You pour your heart out in those paragraphs if you want to tell us a little more about what you're struggling with. We'll make you a video with our thoughts, love and our magic and send that back to you within a couple of days.

Steve Haase  19:53  
Thanks for listening, everybody. Have a great week.