Transition your business from stagnation to soaring success

By Ryan Kauth, business coach, executive and founder of the entrepreneurship program at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay
Executive and business coach Ryan Kauth identifies five keys to unlock the full growth potential of business, taking it from stagnation to success

To open a lock, you need precision and the right tool. Sometimes that tool is simply you and what you know, such as a combination of a few numbers. There are times you need Basher from Ocean’s 11. It’s the same with your business. Less Basher, of course, as cool as his lingo is. 

Are you still unsure how to unlock it? Yes, you’ve tried what you know. You’ve tried the tools that you have. You may have tried the tools that others have used. It doesn’t mean you aren’t successful. It simply means you don’t have the right keys yet. Once you have the keys, you can absolutely unlock the full growth potential of your business.

There are five keys – literally – that will help you unlock the full growth potential of your business. 

First, turn the key that unlocks your real market

Have you been serving the same ideal client for the past few quarters, but it seems as though they are less satisfied – or worse – they haven’t returned? That’s because you and I – as buyers, users, consumers, customers, patients, clients, and guests – change. When we change, do we typically tell the brands we used to use that we’re less than satisfied or that we’ve moved on? Technically no. But really: Yes! Where do we do that? On social media, talking to friends, or if someone asks us. So, have you talked to your customers lately? No, really. Have you? How? What channels do you have to talk to your customers, record their feedback, learn from it, and co-develop new offerings with them? 

Second, turn the key that unlocks the plan to finance your growth

If you are going to grow and soar, how have you planned to finance it? The answer I get from many of my business coaching prospects is that they haven’t planned this part at all. In the movie Facing the Giants, football coach Grant Taylor of the stagnating (not soaring) Shiloh Eagles has to get some coaching of his own. He was asked by a coach this: If you are praying for rain, have you prepared your fields for rain? Growing a business takes cash. How have you positioned your stagnating business to soar to its full growth potential in the area of having enough cash on hand to do it? You start by talking to your local banker, which you should already have a relationship with. If not, you have work to do!

Third, turn the key that unlocks your operations

When your business grows, it creates operational challenges. We need to scale your operations. This means more efficient processes and tools that can handle a higher volume while maintaining, and even improving, your responsiveness, ingenuity, and turnaround time, as just a few examples. Do you have to add a ticketing system so that customer inquiries do not slip through the cracks? Do you need safe banking products, a way for employees to talk to each other quickly, and a system that makes it easy to pay bills and collect money? What about cybersecurity and software? A sales process and a CRM? Hopefully, with your operations, you have been not just praying for rain but also preparing your fields for rain. 

Fourth, turn the key that unlocks the full growth potential of your organisation

You do this by preparing your leadership team and every employee to expect change via regular, clear executive over-communication (see Lencioni’s Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive) – both written and in-person – as well as investing in their personal and professional growth. Often, we think of a “promotion plan” for an employee: if you do these things, then in time you might be promoted. No, that’s not what these are. A personal and professional development plan improves the employee as a professional, which improves them at home and in their community.

This well-thought-out plan, which should be made together and reviewed often, means that you need to spend money on tuition reimbursement for degrees and executive education, to spend time working with local university and college continuing education departments, and to spend time hiring in-house trainers eventually. As I said, there needs to be an intentional personal and professional growth plan for each of your team members.

This also means you. So...

...fifth is turning the key that leads you on the path to becoming a strategic and visionary executive

This is rather than staying on the stagnant path of the great 'functional' executive that you are. That’s right. The main reason your business is not soaring and has not unlocked its full growth potential is that it’s in your hands. This means you must also be coached for growth. There’s a reason why Marshall Goldsmith wrote What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. He saw so many executives that he coached get stuck with their personal growth. See, we often promote the employee who has the most functional prowess.

That might work, but there’s another approach. The average first-time supervisor goes nearly ten years before formally learning how to lead people. If first-time supervisors were trained first in how to lead people and then promoted to lead people, do you think you’d have less turnover? Less turnover saves cash and maintains high morale so teams can solve problems – like operational ones, sales ones, people-leading ones, and financial ones – together. When employees work together, they can better help each other accept change, such as business growth. And when this happens, you can now delegate with confidence your functional tasks to absolutely capable employees. The strategic executive has emerged!

Communicating regularly what you envision your organisation to become, based on the evidence of a fully growing – never stagnant – business, increases your executive presence, develops your authentic confidence, and propels you toward visionary executive status!    

You will have a soaring business, no longer stuck on that terrible no-growth plateau. It will just take a few different keys. 

But if not – if you don’t believe me – at least see the fourth key above because as you see the growth in your leaders, they’ll wonder why you have chosen not to grow along with them!

About Ryan Kauth 

Ryan a business coach and executive who founded the current entrepreneurship program at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay. Over the past 25 years, he has helped hundreds of entrepreneurs grow their businesses. Ryan holds several business degrees and certifications, and has taught undergraduate and graduate business students and entrepreneurs. For more information visit



Featured Articles

Amelia DeLuca, CSO at Delta Air Lines on Female Leadership

Driving decarbonisation at Delta Air Lines, Chief Sustainability Officer Amelia DeLuca discusses the rise of the CSO and value of more women in leadership

Liz Elting – Driving Equality & Building Billion-$ Business

Founder and CEO Liz Elting Turned Her Passion into Purpose and Created a Billion-Dollar Business While Fighting for Workplace Equality – and Winning

JPMorgan Chase: Committed to supporting the next generation

JPMorgan has unveiled a host of new and expanded philanthropic activities totalling US$3.5 million to support the development of apprenticeship programmes

How efficient digital ecosystems became business critical

Technology & AI

Mastercard: Supporting clients at a time of rapid evolution

Digital Strategy

Why Ceridian has boldly rebranded to Dayforce

Human Capital