The five major drivers of business pain

If you are a business owner or senior leader, you are no stranger to problems. They are everywhere and typically revolve around two groups of people: the people who work for you, and the people for whom you work (i.e. your customers). 

If you’re like most of the people I deal with on a regular basis, you may find yourself at times wondering if it’s even worth it. I had one client who actually downsized his project list just so he could complete all the work himself and eliminate any need for employees. He’s much happier now doing the tangible work he loves and not having to deal with the myriad of issues that comes with management.

On the other side of the spectrum are those who truly feel inspired to lead others and know in their heart of hearts that they were born to do so but find themselves at a loss with how to deal with inspired employees who are just not hitting the company revenue or profitability goals.

Usually when someone calls me, as a consultant, they are experiencing a pain point that they attribute to a certain problem. Some examples of pain points:

  •  It’s impossible to find good people
  • Turnover’s through the roof
  • You’re getting audited and have no idea if you’re compliant or not
  • You can’t afford to pay your employees more and are afraid you’re going to lose them
  • Productivity is too low, or error rates are too high
  • Employees are constantly complaining about management
  • You’re too slow to market with new products

In other words, the pain point is the issue that becomes intolerable enough that a business owner is willing to talk to yet another consultant in hopes that maybe there’s a solution.

The good news is that there is a solution, but believe it or not, the pain point is almost always a symptom of the problem, and not the problem itself. I have found that the problem usually lies in 1 or more of 5 basic areas:

1)     There is lack of clarity from the top down about the company revenue and profitability goals, the strategy to hit these goals, and objective information about how the company is performing to goal.

2)    The employees may genuinely not have the knowledge, skills, or tools to perform the tasks they need to perform.

3)    Managers are not providing information to employees about expectations, and are not providing feedback about performance to expectation and/or appreciation for excellent performance.

4)    An over-reliance on management rather than leadership has resulted in a compliant but not committed employee base, whose performance lags when not monitored, and whose desire to remain undetected by management results in a consistent lack of creativity and innovation.

5)    Basic legal requirements are not understood and spelled out in an understandable way, with clear company policies and processes built out to make it easy to follow.

Some companies only have one of these problems, some have them all. In times of starting up or growth, it’s far more common to experience one or more of these. If you’re lucky, or in a strong market, or have uncommonly dedicated employees, it’s possible to get through these problems without massive disruption or financial hits. On the other hand, why go through misery if you don’t have to?

When your business is in the $5 to $25 million a year range, finding help can see overwhelming because many of the packaged, off-the-shelf solutions seem like overkill and at the same time don’t really address the problem at hand. When you’re small to medium-sized and growing it really pays to work with someone who’s had success with businesses your size and is willing and able to customize a solution that works for you, is flexible and most importantly scalable so that you don’t have to redo everything once you hit a major milestone. Yes, there is a gap in the market for turnkey solutions for companies this size, but that’s precisely the basis on which Today’s Leadership Solutions was formed!

Carrie Maldonado is the founder of Today’s Leadership Solutions, a Seattle-based consulting firm focused on helping organizations, leaders and job seekers to identify workplace solutions that work.  As a certified executive coach, organizational development expert and resume writer, Carrie consults with small to medium sized businesses on OD, human resources and recruiting solutions in addition to providing career coaching to managers and executives in transition. Carrie can be reached for consultation at

By Carrie Maldonado

Carrie Maldonado, is an organizational development consultant, author, and speaker. Carrie's eclectic mix of professional interests include writing, speaking, coaching, and consulting on topics ranging from organizational behavior management to spiritual transformation in and out of the workplace. Carrie lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her patient and long-suffering husband and their three children.

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