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Quest for Sense

The Big 5 (plus 1) business limiters

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Nearly four years ago I posted an article called The Big 5 Business Limiters. That particular post got dumped in the site restructure that came with last week's upgrade. I'm reposting it here as it appeared before plus a footnote, mainly because I'll probably be referring to this in my next blog post.

The Big 5 Business Limiters (as originally posted).

I've been a business owner now for about 23 years, and have experienced much of the joy and pain that seems to go with the territory. At times it has been a struggle. And at times it has felt ridiculously easy.

To say there have been a multitude of "seasons" would be something of an understatement. Whilst the entire time I've been in the service industry, there have been changes within that business life that means that whilst my service product was much the same, the business was totally different. In size, structure, and strategy. This diversity has resulted in a number of observations.

I've read a lot of books that have helped along the way. Generally on something that I felt I was struggling with at the time. But for the most part they focus on some part of the puzzle. I've never really seen anything that succinctly gives a big picture overview of what limits the size or success of a business in its entirety.

At times I thought I had found the key. I'd try something and my business would flourish. But after a while I'd hit another boundary. Another factor that was limiting my business. And over the years I realised that there are a number of different factors that limit us.

After more than 20 years of going through this business life, I'm still not sure I've got the whole picture yet, but I think I've narrowed down five critical areas, all of which are vital to the size and success of our business. And any one of which will ultimately limit you if you don't improve on it, no matter what you do with the other points.

Now it's quite possible when you look at my list, you'll recognise in them things that have formed popular discussion under other names. However, just as advertising forms a subset of marketing, I think most of these popular discussions are subsets. Each subset is relevant and adds to our overall knowledge and understanding. But I think this is the "big 5"; the main categories that make up the whole.

And they are:
  • Ambition
  • Capacity
  • Capital
  • Expertise
  • Network

At various times in my business life, I've discovered that whilst all the other points were in place, a deficit in one of these points was holding my business back. In each instance, unblocking the point in question led to a leap forward.

Focusing on one point may produce results for a while, but if you don't pay attention to each of the other points, the time will come when you're going to hit a limit.

A quick example.
To get this one across, please note that I consider marketing as a subcategory of Network and production as a subcategory of Capacity. No matter how successful you are at marketing, if that is all you do and you ignore production, at some point production will be your limiting factor no matter how much marketing you do. Or in reverse, building production capacity without any attention to marketing and sooner or later your production will outstrip your buying market.

A footnote:
One of the things that came up after making this post was another limiter - Environment.
It certainly is worthy of making the list as a business limiter.

The question for now is - are there really only 6 categories?

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Business , Strategy


  1. Lawyer Destroyer's Avatar
    Dave - environment - and of course - Location, Location, Location.......LD
  2. Lyle Comyn's Avatar
    Passion! How far people go for it! To the death at times. The grate wars have been won on it storys told and against all odds!! Ambithion will take you most of the way but Passion is that last step, the what are we willing to do!