Plateau of latent potential

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‘Why aren’t we there yet?’
The Plateau of Latent Potential

Sharn Rayner

21 May, 2024

Blog & Resources

As a coach, mentor, and strategist, a crucial aspect of working with new clients is helping them understand that meaningful change and tangible results take time. Often, as a Business Growth Partner, I’m approached when businesses struggle to achieve the next level of growth or are stagnating.

This stagnation can result from leaders exhausting their current strategies, struggling to adapt to market changes, feeling overwhelmed by rapid shifts, or being unsure of how to allocate their budget effectively across necessary growth activities. It’s common for businesses to be in this predicament for months or even years, experiencing a slow decline.

However, once we initiate our collaboration, there’s a renewed sense of direction – clarity and early wins are common, yet significant successes usually take time to materialise and typically require some investment. A common question from clients is, “Why aren’t we there yet?”

Understanding the “Valley of Disappointment”

We aren’t ‘there’ yet because strategies can’t be realised overnight. Achieving the deliverables of a business strategy is a journey, and during this adventure, business owners and leaders’ fortitude can dip into the “Valley of Disappointment” where, despite persistent efforts, progress appears to slow down and at times, seemingly come to a halt.

Initially, a business might experience rapid growth driven by enthusiasm and innovative ideas. However, this fast-paced progress can quickly slow down, leading to a period of decreased momentum and second-guessing, known as the “Plateau of Latent Potential.”

This phase is not indicative of failure but rather a crucial time for laying the groundwork for future success, emphasising that real growth often requires perseverance through less visible stages.

The Plateau of Latent Potential

Plateau of latent potential Two Tides

Hannah’s journey through challenges

Hannah, the founder of an international distribution company, encountered her plateau amidst numerous challenges: a downsized team (when in reality she needed to upscale but finances dictated otherwise); outdated marketing strategies; and customer retention issues in a competitive market. These obstacles necessitated a strategic rethink and adaptation to reposition her business for growth.

Strategic planning and execution

The turnaround began quickly with an annual strategic planning session, focusing on the company’s core purpose and its impact on customers. Having determined core competencies, competitive differentiators and established a cadence of quarterly sprints with clear accountabilities and results, the first six months with strategic reviews and monthly coaching sessions saw Hannah began to realign her business towards its long-term objectives.

Immediate successes included revitalising marketing engagement. The introduction of Jacqui as the Chief Marketing Officer marked a pivotal moment in transforming Hannah’s marketing efforts and redefining the company’s market stance and brand identity. Clear focus on the core clients ensured that funds spent on marketing efforts really did then demonstrate a return on investment.

Hannah also tackled operational inefficiencies by implementing advanced inventory management and revising credit policies, enhancing financial health and setting the stage for sustainable growth.

Also during this period, Hannah undertook a talent assessment with her team to evaluate the commitment and capability of her staff. Difficult decisions were made to exit underperforming or mismatched leaders  – often regarded as ‘sacred cows’ – which allowed her to invest in a highly competent General Manager. This strategic hire took over the day-to-day management, freeing Hannah to concentrate on business development.

Lastly, and certainly not of least significance, the improved cash flow enabled Hannah to buy additional shares from her silent partner, further solidifying her stake in the company.

You are making progress

However, with all this effort, Hannah, while knowing what was possible with the strategic plan and resources, was exhausted and asked, ‘Why Aren’t We There Yet?’

As I reminded her, we aren’t in this for the short term.

There is still much to do today, but as she onboards her new General Manager, contemplates a potential business acquisition, and builds a strong pipeline of clients – she is moving from the Valley of Disappointment. Through her persistence, strategic planning, and adaptability, Hannah’s success in business will be achieved through cumulative efforts and incremental progress, not overnight.

Ready to unlock your business potential?

Our team at Two Tides are here to support you through your business journey. We utilise a proven framework – Gravitas Impact’s 7 Attributes of Agile Growth to help you build a thriving business strategy, so you can achieve your goals. Get in touch for a chat today on how we can help you move on from your Valley of Disappointment.