Growing your business

The barriers to business growth – and how to overcome them

3 min read


Operating a business is an amazing experience. There’s so much variety, so many opportunities and challenges that arise every day. But when your business is growing it’s easy for these challenges to mount up – especially when, as an SME owner, you’re required to be a jack of all trades.

The pain points of business growth

One of the most common pain points in a growing business is the people challenge. More specifically, how do you find the right staff, and how do you keep them? This can be a challenge day-in, day-out and one you just never quite feel you get ahead of.

Diversifying and entering new markets is another. There can be huge challenges related to heading into international markets, for example, where you’re required to deal with new business cultures and environments. But if you’re juggling that on top of the existing demands of the rest of the business, it’s only natural some balls will get dropped. And these little errors can end up costing you a lot.

Breaking the barriers

One thing that would help most business owners deal with their growing pains is time – in particular, having more time to focus on the areas of the business that will best set them on a successful path forward.

So what are some practical things business owners can do to get on that path?

Firstly, you need to clearly define what success looks like for you – considering not only what that looks like in the business, but also in your family. To do this, you need to get out of the urgent, firefighting mode many business owners find themselves in and become more methodical around how you plan your time, and work across multiple timelines. Define more acutely what your goals and aspirations are for this day, week, month, quarter and year – and even for five years’ time.

Getting SMART

A good approach is to use SMART goals, which are specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timebound. To start, you could try giving yourself 90- and 365-day goals and roll these out first.

Once you have defined your goals for the organisation, it’s important to involve your team. That means working with individual members to define what the goals mean for them and their area of focus. Once you have this discipline in place, it’s a matter of monitoring and supporting the team to keep these rolling forward.

Some further sources of support

  • Talk to fellow business owners. Adults learn best from others in similar situations, so find a way to network regularly and build closer relationships with owners you respect and who you think may have similar challenges. Scheduling a monthly breakfast or lunch will help you really get to know each other and hold each other accountable. BNZ Connect, a free nationwide speaker series that helps SME owners increase their business knowledge and contacts, is the perfect forum in which to flex your networking muscles in a relaxed environment.

  • Spend time with your family, and really listen to what they think about how you could improve yourself and the business.

  • Consider going on programmes, attending conferences or reading books that will help you learn and reflect on the bigger picture.

  • Seek out situations that will simply offer you space to think: go sailing, play golf or sit on a rock. Just give yourself some time. 

BNZ Small Business customers get access to the Icehouse Business of International Quality Barometer (BIQ). It's an easy to use online tool designed to help you identify your business strengths and opportunities for improvement in under an hour. The outcome is real and practical advice that you can use as a guide to accelerate your business growth, whilst avoiding the costs of making the mistakes of those who have gone before.