How To Break Through The Glass Ceilings Of Small Businesses

The glass ceiling is a real thing and it keeps small business owners from achieving true success.

You’ve probably heard this saying before: “The glass ceilings are the invisible barriers that stop you from advancing your business.”

The critical part of this, and what will help you overcome any glass ceiling, is realising that it’s all about you and how you deal with the barrier.

Glass ceilings typically comes in these six areas:

1. Time

This is the way you treat and manage your time; the way you make habits (good and bad) about time management. It’s how you treat the important vs urgent tasks in your business.

When business owners first start working with us at Business Benchmark Group, many tell us they’re always busy, but they’ve got very little cash in the bank to show for it. So where’s their time going?

I’ll tell you! It’s being sucked away in the menial tasks, being on the tools because they don’t trust their team, or putting out fires because they have a reactive rather than proactive approach. 

They don’t have the time to work ON their business, because they’re too busy working IN their business. 

But this is easily solvable. You’re in control of your time and how you use it. If you have no time, then you’ve got to let go of some stuff. It’s as simple as that. It’s a game changer when you start realising the importance of scheduling business owner time in your diary.

We call this the default diary, and it has the domino effect – once you get it right, everything else starts to move into place. Check out our free resource – How to Create a Default Diary here.

2. Sales

In the early stages of business, you want to sell to everyone because you need money. You’ll do any job because you freak out when you’re not busy. But being busy does not mean you’re making a profit! And cash in the bank is oxygen for businesses.

You need to be making sales for the ideal job, at the ideal margin to the ideal customer. And those 3 things are all in your control.

The market doesn’t decide your ideal margin, you do! You decide what jobs are the most profitable for you, and you can say no to anything that isn’t profitable. You can also decide who you want to work with. That might seem scary at first, but as you build your reputation, you’ll build a list of ideal clients who want to work with you.

The ideal customer is simply someone who pays on time and respects your business. Don’t get distracted by a big exciting job, because it doesn’t matter if they don’t pay on time!

To ensure you’re only working with ideal customers, you need a qualification process before you put any work into a quote. If you do this, you’ll know that you’re only securing work at the ideal margin (set by you) so that in 1/3/5 years you are still around, growing your business and your dreams.

Eventually, you want to be at the point where 80% of your quotes are as you design them – for the ideal job, at the ideal margin, to the ideal customer.

3. Procrastination

Most business owners can relate to this one. It’s the feelings of loneliness at the top or being in a corner alone with everyone against you. Maybe you can’t make decisions because you’re stuck in your own head.

But are you lonely, or is it something you convince yourself of? You could have an exceptional team, or maybe a group of peers in a coaching community. Many times, we put this on ourselves and take on the burden of loneliness when we don’t need to; particularly in business.

If you can, making the decision to elevate your business by investing in coaching places you in a supportive and brutal truth environment where you can make better decisions, put procrastination behind you and break through this glass ceiling.

Procrastination comes from a lack of clarity about what to do next, and/or being so overwhelmed that you don’t know where to begin. Get out of your head and bring other people into the mix. Tackling procrastination head on is often less daunting and less time consuming than we think.

For tips on how to overcome procrastination, take some time to read through our blog ‘Your Biggest Threat to Business Growth’.

4. Finances

You need to know your numbers. It’s inexcusable not to, and yet it’s the Achilles heel for so many business owners.

Don’t be ignorant of the numbers in your system. Stay on top of them every week.

This ties into your time management and glass ceilings you have to work on. Keeping track of your numbers by putting them into a scoreboard is a weekly activity that needs to be part of your default diary.

Commit to being consistent with your numbers. You need scoreboards, because without them you can’t build a team that can run without you. Instead, you’re running on wishful thinking and hope vs logic.

Your numbers hold the answers to so many problems in your business! Start by simply keeping track of them consistently, and once you’re on top of that, then you can take insights to increase cash flow in your business.

5. Workflow

This is all about understanding your utilisation. How much utilisation are you getting from your assets? Are you turning productivity into sales, and sales into profit?

Workflow can be a glass ceiling if, like the time pillar, you’re always busy, but have little to no cash to show for it. If that’s the case, there’s likely a problem with your workflow.

Keep track of what you can achieve using the assets available to you, against where you are right now. For example, you have 5 vans on the road with 2 people in each. Each van can deliver $3,000 of invoiceable work each day. Therefore, your capacity is $15,000 per day.

If you’re only making $9,000 per day, there’s something amiss, and you need to figure out why you’ren’t utilising your assets to their full capability.

6. Team

Are you doing all the hardest things? Maybe you feel like you can’t depend on your team? You can’t grow a successful business that way!

Your team is central to your business; you need them and they need you. The key to attracting ideal customers and building a loyal customer base is building a loyal, happy, and efficient workforce! This will give you the higher revenue and profits you’re after.

So having the right people in your business is non-negotiable. It doesn’t matter if they are casual or permanent, employed for the long term, or the upcoming busy Christmas retail period. 

At some point, you either have to move the ones you’ve got on and exchange them for better, or make the personal decision to be better and watch them get better. Learn how to Create a Benchmark Team Using The Five Rs.

The Glass Ceilings are Personal

As I mentioned at the start of this blog, glass ceilings are personal obstacles. The conversation in your head is the enemy, and therefore you require an identity shift.

To overcome any of the 6 glass ceilings, you need to form new habits by making the decision to let go of anything that doesn’t serve you or your business.

It’s your job as the leader to continue pushing, no matter the economic environment, and create those growth opportunities.

Be a leader of the unknown.

Power to you this week!

Stefan Kazakis, CEO & Founder of Business Benchmark Group


More Posts

Ready to run your business better?

Book your free business evaluation


Before you leave, why not do a quick 3 Minute Business Health Check and find out how much you're leaving on the table?