Breaking the cycle of no growth


The science behind why some business leaders don’t change their approach, learned discomfort, Dog on the nail, 3 top tips to break the cycle and step out of learned discomfort

As a business owner, it’s easy to fall into the trap of familiarity and complacency. 

You may find yourself stuck in a cycle of no growth, where you’re not achieving the success you desire, but you’re also not taking any significant steps to change your circumstances. 

This cycle of learned discomfort can be challenging to break, as it often requires stepping out of your comfort zone and taking risks in order to make change and growth happen. 

However, if you’re willing to take action, it’s possible to break this cycle and start growing your business.

In this article, we’ll explore three ways you can break the cycle of no growth and take your business to the next level.

Why are you in a cycle of no growth? 

A man walking down the street sees a dog lying on a porch, whimpering in discomfort. Curious, he asks the dog’s owner why the dog is whimpering. The owner explains that the dog is lying on a nail that has come to the surface through wear from the dog sleeping in the same spot each day. 

The man asks, “Well, why doesn’t the dog just get up and move?” The owner responds, “Because it doesn’t hurt enough.”

This story is often used as a metaphor in business for the habit of staying in a cycle of discomfort or pain, despite having the power to change your circumstances. 

The dog in the story is physically uncomfortable but is unwilling to take action and move to relieve his discomfort. In the same way, as business owners, we can become comfortable with the discomfort of a no-growth cycle and be unwilling to take the necessary actions to change our circumstances.

Staying in a cycle of no growth can be detrimental to your business, just as the nail is detrimental to the dog’s wellbeing. It’s painful enough that you know that making change is necessary and can lead to better outcomes, but not quite painful enough that you will actually take action. 

Allowing this learned discomfort can lead to missed opportunities, decreased revenue, and ultimately, the failure of your business. It’s important to recognise when you’re stuck in a no-growth cycle and take the necessary action to break out of it.

The story of the dog on the nail reminds us that change can be uncomfortable, but it’s necessary to relieve the discomfort we’re currently feeling. In the same way, breaking the cycle of no growth can be uncomfortable, but it’s necessary to achieve the success we’re striving for. It’s up to us to recognise when we’re in a no-growth cycle and take action to change our circumstances.

So how do you break the cycle of no growth? 

To help you overcome your plateau and start making progress on business growth, we’ve outlined three things you need to do in order to start taking action and making change happen. 

  • Knowing when you’re in a no growth cycle. 

Before you can break out of a no-growth cycle, you need to understand why you’re stuck in one. 

Call on your team leaders to work together to conduct a comprehensive analysis of your business, including your sales, marketing, operations, and financials. 

Identify the areas where you’re struggling and where you’re succeeding. This analysis will provide you with a clear picture of what needs to change and where you need to focus your efforts to grow your business.

Aim to work in a comprehensive way with your team leaders, taking a holistic view of the business so you can bring clarity to every area. From here, encourage their engagement and input into what the issues and successes might be, and take recommendations from them too. 

  • Set your goals

Once you’ve identified the areas where you need to improve, develop a growth strategy that outlines specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals for your business. 

This strategy should include action steps for each area that needs improvement, such as marketing initiatives, sales tactics, product development, or operational improvements. Utilise your teams to help inform the solutions for these improvements, using their expertise and experience to lead change. 

Your growth strategy should also outline the resources you’ll need to achieve your goals. This could include changes to staffing, alternative uses of funding, and change in technology in order to make processes more efficient.

  • Implement and measure 

Once you’ve identified the issues that need addressing, and created an informed strategy that focuses on these concerns, the final step is implementing change. 

By taking part in the first two steps you’re already taking actions to break out of the no-growth cycle. However implementation and measuring results in the final stage, where you’ll start to see the fruits of your labours. 

Hold yourself accountable for achieving your goals, and be willing to adjust your strategy as necessary. 

Measure your results regularly and make data-driven decisions about what’s working and what’s not, so you can alter your approach as necessary and continue on a path towards growth. 

Be sure to celebrate your successes, and learn from your failures. By taking action and measuring your progress, you’ll break out of your no-growth cycle and, instead, continually work towards reinvigorating efforts to grow your business.

By making this a perpetual process that you continue to utilise, you will continue to grow, and avoid falling in to a no-growth cycle again. 

If you need support in taking action to break out of your cycle of no growth, get in touch with the team at Ascentis. We specialise in helping businesses achieve their full potential and taking a strategic and measured approach to growth and success.