So you’ve hit the ceiling.

Your business was growing, and then it stopped. You’re scratching your head trying to figure out what happened. (Or maybe holding an ice pack on your head, because hitting the ceiling hurt.)

This is an epically long article to help you diagnose the problem, fix it, and start growing again. The fixes are simple, but they’re not easy. They take discipline and commitment.

Only entrepreneurs who fear the status quo more than growth read past this point.

Still with me? Great. Reading to the end of this epically long article is not going to be easy for people with the attention span of a … ooh! Squirrel!

Yeah, you get it. Here’s hope: The fixes are simple. You just need the discipline to …

Read this epically long article Use the article to diagnose which problem you need to solve Commit to the fix

Here’s rough news: Committing to the fix will take … you guessed it … more discipline.

But you had the discipline to start a business and grow it to this point. You and I both know that makes you part of a tiny, tiny minority of people who create value in this world. You know you’re in it to win it. I know you’re in it to win it. So read on for Step 1, Diagnosis.

This is going to be tough love. A sentence coming up really soon now says, “you’re bad at” things.

I know you can take it. Read on.

Why You’ve Hit the Ceiling

You’ve hit the ceiling because you’re bad at one or more of these things:

  1. Simplifying: Your business is way too complex. You need to simplify, man. (Bonus points if you get that joke without clicking on the link.)

  2. Delegating: You’re holding on to too many things.

  3. Predicting: You don’t know what problems you must solve this week to execute your plan, and you don’t know what priorities to work on this quarter to achieve your annual goal.

  4. Systemizing: You’re doing it your way, your employees are doing it their ways, and there is no one way. You’re not going very fast because you keep … wait for it … reinventing the wheel.

  5. Structuring: You don’t have the right and best people structure defined to get you where you want to go. You don’t have the right seats, so you certainly don’t have the right people in them. And Jim Collins told you what happens to the bus then.

You can’t say I didn’t tell you this would be tough love.

How Hitting the Ceiling Feels

Hitting the ceiling causes entrepreneurs pain in one of these five areas. Or in other words, if you’re frustrated with one of these five aspects of your business, that frustration’s not the real issue. Instead, it’s a symptom of an underlying issue: That you’ve hit the ceiling.

Here are the five symptoms of hitting the ceiling:

  1. People: Your people aren’t performing. They aren’t on the same page. They don’t seem to Get it, Want It, or have the Capacity to do it.

  2. Profit: There’s not enough of it. It’s like you’re running that business where someone give you a dollar bill, and you give them 100 pennies in return. “How do you make money?” people ask. “Volume!” you reply. (Again, bonus points if you get the Saturday Night Live reference without clicking on the link.)

  3. Control: You’re not running your business, it’s running you. Remember that personal freedom and autonomy you envisioned when you started your company? No? Well, that’s a problem.

  4. Growth: There is none. And I’m not just talking about external growth—things like sales, and revenue, and number of employees—I’m talking about internal growth—all the improvements that make your business ELF (Easy, Lucrative, and Fun) and not HALF (Hard, Annoying, Lame, and Frustrating).

  5. Magic Pills: Quick fixes haven’t worked any better than they did for Jack and his beanstalk. (Oh wait, bad example: “Jack and his mother live happily ever after with the riches that Jack acquired.”

Want to Fix the Pain?

Now that you’ve identified what’s causing your pain, you have to make a decision. What will you decide?

  1. Live with it, like a whimpering old dog?

  2. Leave it (sell the business), or

  3. Change it?

To change it, you’re going to have read on. And saying, “I started this business to lead, not to read,” is not an option, even if it’s really funny in an Arnold Schwarzenegger accent.

The Fix(es): Do Business Differently

To break through the ceiling …

  1. Simplify: Cut complexity; simpler is better, and less is more.

  2. Delegate: You can’t do all the things that used to bring you success. You need to build extensions of yourself.

  3. Predict: Weekly and quarterly, what must and can be done to hit your annual goals.

  4. Systemize: Document your core processes, simplify them, and get them followed by everyone.

  5. Structure: Create the simplest Accountability Chart to get the right people in the right seats.

“This is a tough thing to really come to grips with,” my fellow EOS Implementer Jim Coyle writes. “We have organizational leaders say to us, ‘But this is the way we have always done things and we have been rather successful.’ As correct as they may be, the problem is these great leaders have taken their business to the edge of the land and keep trying to walk across the water. It just doesn’t work. Unless you are God. And, if that is the case, email me. I have a few questions.”

You needed faith in yourself to launch a business and get this far, but you don’t have unlimited skills and abilities. Good news: EOS—the Entrepreneurial Operating System—makes change and growth simple.

To learn more:

Listen to or read Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman. The book shows you how to simplify, delegate, predict, systemize, and structure. As you might have guessed, it’s simple, but not easy; and it takes discipline. Text me at (402) 202-2820 or email me at and I’ll send you a free chapter, or if you’re in Lincoln, Nebraska, hand-deliver you a hard copy for free. Or if you like audiobooks, I can send you a copy for free if you’re not already an Audible subscriber.

Call or email me with questions. Nebraska companies like …

  • EyeCare Specialties

  • Firespring

  • Berry Law Firm

  • Bulu

  • ComPro

  • Bluestem Fiber

  • opendorse

  • Executive Travel

  • MultiMechanics

  • Fashion Tec USA

… all hit the ceiling at one time and chose help from an EOS Implementer like me to help their leaders master the ability to consistently break through the ceiling.