Identify And Fix The Bottlenecks

For some reason, people choose to make their business complicated.

I’d much prefer to keep things simple.

And shockingly it’s the people that keep things simple that grow quickly.

Simple doesn’t mean easy.

In fact, keeping things simple is often really difficult.

There are always new shiny objects that present themselves that we’ll want to play with. (I love new toys too, don’t get me wrong)

Almost all of these “shiny objects” get introduced to us as if they are an “easy button” and if we just “use that bot” or buy the latest software that the problems will go away.

As a business owner, your ONLY job is to solve problems.

And until you’re doing $100k/month your largest bottlenecks (aka the only problems you should be solving) are within ONE of five core areas.

Once you solve the bottleneck in area 1.

The next one will present itself in one of the other 4 areas.

It’s sort of like that game “whack a mole”.

Solve one, the next one appears.

It’s actually refreshing when you realize you only have to look to these 5 core functions of your business to figure out what you need to focus on next.

5 core functions. That’s it.

In today’s episode, I break down the 5 core functions and how to identify and remove bottlenecks that will unlock the growth potential in your business.

​Transcript / MP3

What’s good, everybody.In this episode, I want to talk about bottlenecks and really the five areas of your business in your agency that you need to focus on to identify where your biggest bottleneck is at the moment and only focus on that and when you start following this process, you will see ongoing and continuous improvement in your agency. Let’s go. For three years, my agency built funnels and automation systems for the biggest names in marketing today since then have transformed that agency into a hyper profitable training and consulting business. While everyone is out there and talking about scale like it’s some sort of destination, we’ll be asking the real question, how do you transform your business into a more scalable model using the knowledge, skills, and expertise that you already have? This podcast is here to give you the answer. Join me and follow along as I learned, apply and share the strategies I’m using to build my multimillion-dollar business. My name is Greg Hickman and welcome to Scalable.All right guys, so I wanted to talk about this notion of bottlenecks and identifying bottlenecks in your business. You hear a lot of people talk about, you know, we help you find the bottleneck and fix it. And I think sometimes you kind of lose what that actually means. And the word bottleneck almost becomes like a buzz word. And so what I wanted to do in this episode is kind of look at and discuss five areas of your business where there is likely a bottleneck that you need to kind of target your efforts and energy to fixing the bottlenecks in those areas. And all of this kind of came from a how we’ve been focused on growth in our own business. B, how we help our clients figure out where to focus their time and energy. And See, I just finished reading this book called the Goal A. I’ve been gotten given this recommendation for a very long time to read this book.The book is called the goal, a process of ongoing improvement by Eli u m goal Drat. And there’s another author I believe, um, and I show you the book, but it’s on my kindle. And so this is a really great story of the, uh, the owner of a specific plant within a, within a manufacturing business and the plant isn’t doing well and he’s tasked with kind of turning the plant around within the next three months or else they’re going to shut down the plant and like hundreds of employees. The town that this plant is in would all suffer. And the, you know, the book kind of being titled a process of ongoing improvement. Really when it comes down to it is the whole stories about how they had to systematically find where the bottlenecks were in there in their plant. Like the process of making all of these widgets call it from the odor coming into the clients receiving all of their orders on time and there’s multiple areas of the plant that are required to do certain pieces of the production and they really start diving in.And again, a story you should, you should definitely read it a, there’s probably points where you’ll get really bored if you don’t like hearing about process and stuff like that. But the logic and the thinking are really, really powerful. And can apply to you and your agency and we’re going to talk about how in this episode, so look right now as an agency owner, depending upon how big you are and how many, how big your team is, there is a way in which you do things and in order for you to grow your business, there are certain activities that you should be spending your time on, certain systems that you should be focused on in order to grow. And I think one of the challenges that a lot of agency owners face right now is the ease of access of tons and tons of valuable information that’s available for free online, right?And so you could go search for anything on youtube or Google and find some sort of answer to your questions. The challenge is if you are searching for things that are tied to areas where you don’t currently have a bottleneck, you’re wasting your time, energy and your money in trying to solve that problem. And this is where all the shiny objects come in and you know, Ooh, let me go buy this tool because everybody else is using it. And then figure out how to apply this tool. All of the decisions that we make as owners should be focused on how to grow our business, how to improve our business, how to make sure that clients get results. So what we do in our own business and what we help our clients do is really understand the five areas that they really need to focus on in order to grow and the five areas of their business that they really need to start thinking about installing systems. And so no matter what your business is, and I can tell you specifically for you and your agency, there are five core functions of a business. That’s it. Five core functions. And so we’re going to jump into each of those. And I’m going to pull up the old, I didn’t even plug in my iPad. So that’s a, that’s a foul here. Let’s, uh, let’s see about switching over to the iPad here. All right, so, uh, five core functions of the business. The first core function is lead generation.In your agency or your B2B service business, whatever type of business you have, you need to have appointments coming in. You’d have sales calls, strategy sessions, whatever you call them. You need to have leads coming in, inquiries into how you, your agency can help that, that prospect, right? So the first core function is lead generation. The second court function is lead nurture. Now you can call this a lot of different things. I look at this as marketing, right? And if you watched one of our previous episodes of the two jobs of marketing, you would know that marketing, the goal for your marketing is to educate your prospects and your market on the pain and the problem that they have and show them that you have a solution and invite them to talk about it, right? So educate and invite are really like the two jobs of marketing.So we bring leads in, right? That we’re acquiring inquiries, we’re nurturing those people to make sure that they’re the right fit, that they understand the pain and the problem to understand how we can help them, that they know, like, and trust us. All of those things which lead into the third core function, which is sales. How do you then take those, those leads that have been coming in, that you’ve been nurturing, activating, whichever words you’d like to use there, and qualifying, hey, like this is someone that we can actually help. And then enrolling them into your services or getting hired by them to get a new client, right? So how do we convert those leads into prospects and those prospects into paying clients? That is another core function of your business. The fourth is fulfillment or delivery, right? The delivery of your service or your program or whatever it is you’re selling, making sure that your clients are getting the results and that they are happy and that it’s repeatable, right?And then the fifth area is retention. Or in some cases this would be resell and upsell, right? So once you’ve gotten a client, how do you get them to remain a client? So potentially if you have a monthly recurring service, which I need to do another video on because most people attack that whole whole thing wrong as agency owners. But maybe you have some sort of monthly recurring retainer or monthly recurring revenue, or simply just getting that client too, bye with you again, resell them something else or upsell them into something more expensive up the ladder, the next sale, right? So literally these are the five core functions of any business. Now, as the agency owner, what you should be doing all the time, probably on every 30 and 90 day cadence at least, is to come in here and score yourself on how well you’re doing in each of these five areas, right?How well are you doing with lead generation? How well are you doing with lead nurture? How is your sales, um, your sales process? How is your fulfillment process? And you should be scoring yourself. And really the simplest way to do it is what is that? What has the lowest score? And then going to fix that. And this is where the process of ongoing improvement starts, right? Because what will likely happen, for example, everyone thinks that their problem is leads, right? You’ve probably said it. Tons of agency owners say it. If you’ve sat there and said, hey, my problem is lead generation, I need more leads. Yet when we look at your sales and your closing, only 10% of the people you actually speak with, I would actually say no, you don’t have a sales problem or a lead generation problem. Your problem is in sales.You can’t even convert the leads that you get. Like we got to get you at least to 20% if not, you know, 30% of your, of your conversion, like one in. If you’re only converting, you know, one in five of people, then I’d want to solve your sales problem first before we start flooding more leads, right? Or sorry, 10% if you’re closing the say one out of 10 people, then you want to solve the sales problem before you really go start flooding your system with leads, right? So it’s very simple to think that, okay, well I have a leads problem, but you might look downstream and figure out where, uh, where else there might be a problem that is going to lead into the next problem, right? So this process of ongoing improvement is really, really important. And so, all right, so say we identify that sales is the problem area.We go in and we go to fix it, right? Well, how do we, how do we fix it? We’ve identified the bottleneck, but what is, what are the actions and activities that we should be doing to fix that? Well, so how we approach it is if you want to fix the bottleneck, right? Um, if you want to fix a bottleneck, we have to look at a few things. First. We look at, um, people who can we hire someone to solve this problem? Alright. Is there a, depending upon which, what’s your bottleneck is, can you solve it through hiring someone through people? Can you solve it through process or can you solve it through a project? Right? Really, those are the only three ways to solve it, right? If like, you need to create a system, right? So you need to like bring in technology or identify a, you know, whatever system you need to create, you know, that will probably be a process, right?The process is a combination of people using technology to, you know, create a specific outcome. Um, or it could even be wrapped up into a project. Right now, projects often are the area where you, you fixing a specific bottleneck in your business might actually come down to a deficit in skillset, right? Like you might be lacking a skill set that would allow you to solve the problem, right? Um, say in say lead generation, right? Say you don’t know how to use Facebook ads. Like you might have to go acquire a skill, right? Learn the Facebook ads skill and how to acquire clients profitably might be Facebook plus funnel and you might turn that into a project, right? All right, I need to go out there and build an automated and profitable sales system and acquisition system. So I got to go learn some of these things so I can develop my process so that I could eventually teach it to somebody else, right?And that that’s where it turns into kind of a combination of all of these three. Now, depending upon where the bottleneck is, you might actually choose to hire that person first, right? So it really depends on what your bottleneck is and the skill sets that you currently have. But when it comes to identifying, all right, you’ve identified what that bottleneck is, can we hire someone to fix it? Who knows how, who, who do we have either on our team or can we hire to fix it? What is the process that needs to be put in place in order for us to, to unclog this bottleneck? And then what is indoor? Is there a project that we need to create that maybe involves hiring people, training people, building out a specific system, right? A combination of these things and that’s where really where we start to look at and our own business, all right, well what do we need to fix?Like, let’s look at how are we doing in lead generation, lead generation, one out of 10 lead nurture, one out of 10 sales, one out of 10 and we score ourselves and we identify where the lowest score is and then we figure out which of these things is going to help us raise that score. Now here’s the catch, this whole notion of processing improvement, right? As you read this book, the goal as well, Bob, like when you think about a bottleneck, right? And you look at, you know, a traditional bottleneck like the, the smaller the bottleneck is, the more constraint the flow of whatever is going through that bottleneck will have, right? So you know, the larger the bottleneck, you know, more water can flow through, but as the bottleneck gets smaller, less and less water will flow through, right? And so a lot of this book is really about, alright, well understanding where the bottleneck is and understanding how throughput is impacted based on that bottleneck through put meaning, like how, how is the flow going through that bottleneck, right?And sometimes when you identify like there’s this interesting balance between throughput and and the bottleneck, right? So if the bottleneck is sales and you’re flowing tons of leads through your lead generation and nurture and those things are doing great, right? This is going to continue to, to be an issue for you. You could add more leads, you can nurture more people, but if you don’t increase your conversion percentage, sales is going to continue to be a bottleneck. Right now you might back off on your lead generation and lead nurture efforts so that you can go all in on fixing your sales issue, right? Cause that’s where we identify the bottleneck. And guess what? When we relaunch our acquisition efforts, you might run into a problem where there’s a bottleneck somewhere else, right? You might run into a problem, well where, Hey, well the reason you don’t have people referring you all the time is because you actually don’t have a repeatable process to get your clients results.So it’s actually even a sales problem. It’s a fulfillment and delivery problem, right? Like you can’t even get people the result that you’re promising repeatedly. If you did, they’d probably be spreading that back into the marketplace, which would also help your sales process, which would also help all of these other things, right? So all of these things are interconnected and when you, when you fix the bottleneck in one area, you typically will identify the bottle, like a bottleneck in another area. This is why on a periodic basis or frequent basis, you know, every, um, call it every 30 days, definitely every 90 days you should be looking at each of these core functions and identifying where that bottleneck is and then whichever one it is, go into the fixed protocol, which is identifying the people, the process of the project to fix it. Right. The interesting thing here guys, is that usually where you think the bottle, where you, what you think the bottleneck is is really just the symptom and you need to dig deeper within each of these, right?Um, and I think the challenge that many agency owners have and many business owners have in general, is trying to solve all of these problems at once. And if you really want to buy in and commit to the longterm growth and really start to see improvements in your business, once you identify that bottleneck, literally you should do nothing else except fix that bottleneck, right? So what I mean by that is if the bottleneck is in fulfillment, you shouldn’t be working on anything lead generation wise until you fix fulfillment. All right? Because you scattering your efforts and your energy and your team to try to solve all of these different things. Is it a waste of time, right? You figuring out the next new shiny object. Now if that shiny object will help potentially help you in that bottleneck, then that’s something to consider, right? That might be a piece of the process that you want to cover when you guys go into optimize your sales process because that’s the bottleneck.Well, maybe there’s a CRM tool that you could be using that’s cause you’re not using any technology. Everything’s manual, for example. So what I found to be true time and time again in our business and our client’s business, and when I go speak with mentors that I’ve hired, it’s always in this book again, it like totally re painted this picture for me, it’s you need to put all effort into solving and removing the bottlenecks in your business. And as an agency owner, if you spent all of your time just on these five areas, find which of these you’re the weakest in, solve for that bottleneck. The next bottleneck will uncover itself and then you solve that one and you keep doing that over and over and over again, and you will see your business at exponential rates, period. If it’s not in one of these five core functions of your business, the odds are that you shouldn’t be doing it.So what I challenge you is I’d love to hear where you feel like your biggest bottleneck is right now and what airy you’re going to focus on. So I would say, you know, on a scale of one to five, let’s keep it simple. Actually, you know what? Let’s not even do, let’s do that. Let’s do [inaudible]. Let’s think of the traffic light system, right? So you have, you know, red, you got green, and these are obviously not the order that they’re in. I get it, right? Look at each of these five core functions. Let’s look at lead generation first, right? So we’re looking at at this traffic light, look through each of these five core functions and say, hey, in lead generation, am I, you know, am I kind of at a red light? I might have green light. Are things good or like they kind of on the fence, I’d say if it’s flowing and as good to go give it a green.If it’s, you know, kind of clogged in a bottleneck, obviously it’s, it’s red and sort of like Ma is yellow, right? Whatever ends up being yellow. We want to get green, whatever ends up being red, we want to get yellow and eventually get to green. So we’re going to solve for the red first. Score yourself every 30 days that starts. Now. If you’re watching on on Youtube, I’d love for you to comment below where is your biggest bottleneck in one of these five core functions of your business and what are you going to do either look for people, what process are you going to put in place indoor? What project are you going to work on in order to start fixing it? I’d love to hear from you. If you’re not working on one of these five core functions, you’re probably wasting your time, energy, effort, and money solve for the bottlenecks in the areas that are going to move your business forward. Talk to you guys soon.If I gave you five to 10 new clients, would you or your agency break? If so, your current agency model is broken? I struggle with this too, until I found a better way. By adding online programs, training, and coaching to our agency, we’ve doubled profits without adding more hours. If you want to work directly with me and my team to transform your agency, visit to learn more.

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Greg Hickman

Greg Hickman

CEO & Lead Mentor

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