How to Get Unstuck and Accelerate Your Business Growth

August 20, 2012 , 16 Comments

The feeling of being stuck or treading water is a frustrating and very common one, among entrepreneurs. We’d all love to smoothly sail towards our goals and keep growing our businesses at a steady pace.

Unfortunately, this is rarely how it pans out in reality.

Watch the video below to see why you often experience plateaus in your business and how to break through them:

How to Get Unstuck

Think of the growth of your business as a progression in steps, rather than a linear one. Something like this:


Each time you hit a plateau, you most likely need to switch from management-mode to information-mode or vice versa.

In some cases, you need to learn how to do something or learn a better way of doing something that you’re already doing. Following one of the examples from the video, you might need to learn how to run tests to improve conversion rates on your site. Or you might already be testing, but wasting time with inefficient testing methods, in which case you need to learn a better way to test, in order to get better results in less time.

In other cases, you need to simply apply what you’ve learnt… which is a lot easier said than done.

Anything that isn't done systematically and consistently will fall apart.In fact, the implementation steps are where things usually go wrong. We rarely lack the means to gain information or access to specialists. Everything you need to grow your business is out there, already available and waiting. There’s a series of steps that can, theoretically, be taken to get you more visitors, more customers, more revenue and so on. And you can probably get a good idea of what those steps are, with a little research and learning.

Actually taking those steps is the tricky part, and here’s why: anything that isn’t done systematically and consistently will eventually fall apart.

To do anything systematically and consistently:

  • It needs to be written down in a clear, step-by-step format.
  • Someone needs to be responsible/accountable for it.

I know, you’re in a hurry and you feel that you’ll do fine just winging it. And I know that you think this is just too much of my Swissness coming through in the form of organization-mania. But I put this to you: anything that gets taken care of properly in your business, anything that’s running smoothly is either clearly documented and delegated or done by someone who’s internalized a system or set of rules for it.

In other words: everything that’s working in your business either follows an explicitly documented system or it follows an unwritten system that you or someone working for you has created in your/their head.

For anything that isn’t systematized like this, it’s only a question of time until it derails. And there’s a simple reason for that. Any component of your business that lacks a clear system requires your continuous attention and there’s a limit to the amount of things you can dedicate your attention to.


Here are two examples from my own business: one of the things I do have a very clear system for is product creation. I follow a specific process that goes all the way from market research to product launch. Anyone who took part in the Product Bootcamp of last year will know this system and, in fact, own the documentation of it.

If you’ve been following IM Impact for a while, you’ll know that I release both free and premium products on a regular basis.

On the other hand, affiliate recruitment and -management is something that I don’t have a system for. And lo and behold: affiliate promotions for my products have been hit and miss. Some have gained good traction and gotten tons of traffic via affiliates, others haven’t.

We now both know the solution to a problem like this consists of either one or both of these steps:

  1. Learn how to effectively recruit and manage affiliates.
  2. Create a clear, documented system and delegate the execution of that system.

Delegation can be to yourself and it can involve reserving a certain time-slot in your daily, weekly or monthly routine to a specific task.

Next Steps

What you actually need to do is pretty straight forward: identify the highest priority tasks and areas in your business (i.e. the ones which will improve growth most dramatically, once they are improved). Then, figure out if you already know everything you need to know and just lack a clear system, or if you still need to fill some knowledge-gaps in each area. If necessary, seek out further information online and in books.

Then, write out a clear documentation, detailing how each task will be handled in your business. Once that’s done, you either follow those documented steps yourself or you delegate them to someone else.

What difficulties have you encountered in your own business? And how will you use the principles described in this post for you benefit? Let me know by leaving a comment!

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About ​Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.

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  • Hi Shane

    I’ve definitely been guilty of not documenting my processes.

    Obviously this is a critical step if you are outsourcing aspects of your business, but you make a good point that you can easily get derailed without having a clear plan.



  • Good, practical advice Shane – but I wouldn’t expect anything less!

    Your remark, “Everything you need to grow your business is out there…” brought to mind a terrific poem – both entitled “All I really need to know I learned in kindergarden” by Robert Fulgham (terrific poem, Google it!).

    In some respects, it’s the same idea – it isn’t the ‘learning’ or the ‘getting’ that hangs me up many times, it’s the ‘doing’.

    As you know, we’re about to release the 3rd version of our Adsense course (creatively dubbed “V3″…). It’s quite a bit over-due. Though the final weeks of the delay were ‘outside’ issues, much of the early delays were nothing more than a ‘doing’ problem.

    And speaking of which, my friend… let’s follow up on our chat! Our membership is very eager (and getting loud!) to have me bribe, beg, or blackmail you to do another live session for us – plus I’m still holding that opportunity for you to be the first & only one with an “x-tra” tacked on to the course should you want to make it available.

    And of course, my forum will have my head if we don’t get V3 integrated into SEC…

    Best regards,

    • Hi Michael,

      Yeah, we need to pick that up where we left off. Concerning the integration, we can start on that right away, if the course is ready.

  • Hi Shane,

    Right article in the right time for me. Its 4am in the morning and I am going to sleep. But before that I decided to read this last Email I got few hours a go. And see there I found the same topic I was concerned about today, where I sent a PM in the SECockpit German Group. This was and still my concern:

    In the Video Tutorial section -> Bootcamp Video 3 -> Product based search

    You started an Affiliate KW search with Sam via SECockpit and ended the Video mit der “offenen Fortsetzung” and it’s all about “doing anything systematically and consistently”.

    I still don’t know everything I need to know yet BUT lack a clear system and need to fill some knowledge-gaps in this mentioned area. So, where do I find the next Bootcamp Videos concerning Affiliate Product KW Research and how to go systematically further?

    Thanking you in advance and good night!


    PS: spreche ebenfalls Deutsch!

    • Hi Amin,

      Have you watched the training webinars/recordings?
      Particularly the first one should contain pretty much everything you need to move forward. The next step after that is building your site and content, based on the keywords and you can follow the SECockpit tasks for the promotion, once that’s done.

      For the step “in between” (i.e. actually creating the content on the pages, on your site), there’s the Website Booster PDF (called “Rich Content Guide” in the English version).

      • Hi Shane,

        Yes, I watched all the Videos and Webinars and they are great but I am still struggling in the most difficult part KW Research of the right Niche/Product. Then taking the tasks, after choosing hopefully the “right” [long tail] KW. Well, it would be be great to see you as a pro demonstrating at least one example from the KW research with SECockpit till the end pf KW Project!

        Looking forward to hearing and reading more from you.

  • I am getting better everyday with outsourcing and documenting every process in detail. This really frees up my time. I am glad that I came across this website and Shane’s training. It really helped. I appreciate it.

    • Thanks, Frank! For outsourcing, I’ve found it absolutely crucial. But even for tasks I do myself, without a clear system, I end up wasting a lot of time.

  • Hi Shane,

    I notice generally that some people – and you are in that number – seem to have a gift to lift out of the unconscious what many others are struggling to articulate. Here you have hit on a perfect example.

    Last week I was ‘learning’ SECockpit, playing with it. I had already identified that it would become an important ‘process’ in my particular business model – and today I am devoting my time to documenting and fleshing out the ‘processes’ into a repeatable system.

    So your post has hit the ‘spot’ with me big time – and what I love so much about it is the articulation of the thing I do all the time and that is set up systems for myself to follow. To begin with I am delegating to myself, later it will be to others.

    By the time I get round to having to repeat a process in a systematised part of my business, I will invariably have forgotten how to do it. So to speed me up, I always document the step by step ‘processes’ when I do something new. That way when I have to repeat that process, I am ahead of the game. And later, when the system is ready to be outsourced, I have already written the process manual.

    Great post – thanks.


  • Thanks Shane, good to be reminded again to have step by step systems. I find it interesting for me and my staff that we have the tendency to drift away from the system. Once that happens I find it quite hard to get back on track because chaos seems to be the stronger natural way of doing things. Any tips what I can do to STICK to the system?

    • I’ve found the same thing. It seems that entropy applies outside of just physics, as well.

      I can’t say I’ve found a great recipe to prevent this from happening, but a pretty simple principle seems to work: always stay on the ball.

      As the “boss”, you need to keep reminding yourself and everyone involved that the systems either need to be followed closely or adapted, in case there’s a way to improve them.

      “We need to stick to the systems” is not something you can say once and then assume that it’s done and taken care of. The best example for this, for me, actually doesn’t stem from business but from martial arts, which I taught for many years.
      Even advanced students often need to be reminded to stick to the basics. You don’t teach footwork once and then move on. You teach footwork and then, with almost every following exercise or technique, remind everyone (including yourself) to stick to good, clean footwork.

      In short: keep repeating it. Keep calibrating to adhere to the systems you’ve set up.

    • Hi Andreas,

      Here is something that might help, and that you could easily introduce to your staff. If you like the sound of it, do contact me via my website, and I will send you the Template…..

      I have developed a VICTORY & INTENTION ACCOUNTABILITY CALENDAR to help me with this tendency to slide off-course.

      The basics are simple – each day I write down up to three of Yesterday’s VICTORIES, and three INTENTIONS for today. I call my accountability partner early, before the normal working day start, and we spend up to 15 minutes on Skype (and no more) discussing each other’s VICTORIES and INTENTIONS. We do this every weekday.

      This helps me to stick to my goals and to the systems I am using to achieve these – on a daily basis. At the beginning of each week, in addition, we declare and write down our Week’s FINANCIAL INTENTIONS in $s; and this week’s MAJOR INTENTIONS. Then, at the end of the week, we write down and record this week’s FINANCIAL VICTORY in $, and this week’s three MAJOR VICTORIES.

      Because I am daily accountable for today’s work to my accountability partner first thing tomorrow – we are both really focused – and we help each other to keep on track, and actually account to each other for our performance.

      Since I have been doing this, my goals have become clearer, my systems better defined, and I have a realistic mirror on my performance. The results are significant; and as a lone entrepreneur, I am no longer alone.

      However, when I was running a small business with staff, I used a similar calendar to great effect – this one I called the ‘Hi Ho Form’ – each of my staff had to fill it out daily, and submit it to me weekly. However, were I in that office now, I would definitely introduce the Victory & Intention Accountability Calendar, and set up a system of Accountability Partners. And I would review these forms each week, and make sure the team knew their progress was being supported.

      So this is, in a sense, a ‘How To’ for keeping ‘systems’ on track! And it is my way of doing what Shane is advocating – ‘always stay on the ball’.

  • Hi Shane,

    Excellent insight.

    With all this disturbance and god
    knows what not – apps, facebook updates,
    email, hyper-activity popping up
    everywhere…many people are worried
    about their blogs dying down and people
    losing interest.

    But yours is great. I’ll be
    following this blog regularly

    Your information is great and
    spot on accurate. Your free gifts,
    extremely helpful.


    I’m going carefully document and
    delegate the customer support in
    my consulting practice.

    As for another challenge:

    (In response to the question
    in the end)



    Could you share some insights on that?
    How about a blog-post?


    • Hi Anuj,

      Thanks for your comment!

      Concerning your questions, there are no really simple answers.
      To beat procrastination, one of the things you can do is set up rituals or habits that give you some momentum. For example, if you start your working day by checking your email, you’re quite likely to get bogged down in minutiae and from that, it’s difficult to move on to more important tasks.
      If instead, you start off with some small but important tasks, that you can get done quickly, you’ll gain momentum and after having completed some smaller tasks successfully, you’ll find it a lot easier to tackle a big, important task for the day.

      Another big factor is what was discussed in this video (first part of the video and link).

      As for focusing, it’s all about single-tasking. Make sure you eliminate all distractions when you’re working. Focusing on one thing is easiest when there aren’t a hundred other things trying to get your attention. Here’s a quick video about how to do that.

      • Thanks a mega-million Shane.

        You should be charging for those videos you know. I can already see my productivity going up.

        You rock! ;)


  • OMG! The world is going to end!

    Really, build my rank is just one of many many networks that are still out there for people to use, however the future is in decentralized networks most certainly.

    While I believe that amr and linkathority are on the right track, truly private link networks that use broad ip diversity and normalized looking blogs that have real looking content is what will stand the test of time.

    Google maybe just signing up for these blog networks, and this may cause the death of an industry, however private networks such as serp gold that have membership caps are sensible because they lock Google out.

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