Tackling the Five Frustrations of an Entrepreneur

Every business leadership coach has one primary task: help their clients overcome the impediments to their success. Gino Wickman developed the Entrepreneurial Operating System®, because he wanted to help entrepreneurs overcome what he called the “Five Frustrations of an Entrepreneur.”

In my work as a Certified EOS Implementer®, I’ve seen how EOS® addresses each of the Five Frustrations. Here are some examples.

Frustration 1: Lack of Control

Entrepreneurs tend to be optimists. Where others see problems, they see opportunities. That perspective can change and as circumstances begin to put speedbumps in front of what started as a seemingly perfect business model.

One of my clients builds components for the Southern California light industrial manufacturing sector. When we started working together, their CEO told me, “With our business so dependent on how the economy is going, it often feels like we’re just blowing in the wind. I want to change that.”

What EOS has helped them do is get more creative. EOS hasn’t stopped the wind from blowing, but it has helped their team focus on what they can control. Each quarter, they adopt company Rocks aimed at diversifying into growth sectors. It has changed the way they plan for the future without changing who they are.

Frustration 2: Lack of Profit

Not many entrepreneurs I meet are primarily motivated by money, but each agrees that making a profit is essential. When a business hits the ceiling, its profits tend to drop along with the team’s productivity.

One of the marketing agencies I work with experienced this very issue. They had reached a tipping point and at first glance, they seemed to have too many projects and not enough people. They were constantly losing profitability to contractor fees.

EOS helped them see that the roots of their problems were not quite what they thought. After identifying their Core Focus™, they discovered that a few of their high volume, low profitability engagements were outside their target market. They also learned that they had people in seats that didn’t belong to them. By correcting those things, they began seeing the business’s profitability edge higher.

Frustration 3: People

Finding the right help is never easy. Most entrepreneurs have experienced the unsettling reality that even finding the proper help won’t always result in a perfectly resolved process. Colleagues fall out of alignment, pulling in different directions and getting frustrated. Projects don’t get done on time, and quality suffers.

I work with a Visionary who came into EOS feeling deeply unsure of herself as a leader. She’d made a few strategic hires that had gone sideways: their irregular meetings had become tense and awkward, with mixed signals passing down to the rest of the company and creating confusion.

EOS helped her see that the problem wasn’t with her people, but with her process. The Accountability Chart was a huge help for her. She calls it her team’s “clarity chart.” With clear responsibilities, her team isn’t getting in its own way anymore. Those strategic hires are free to exercise their talents without running into conflicts.

Frustration 4: Hitting the Ceiling

Many entrepreneurs hit the ceiling and don’t know why. They’ve done so well up to this point; why aren’t old tricks still working? Without a framework, answering that question—or even knowing to ask it —can be difficult.

That happened to a small service company I work with. Their Visionary is great at building relationships and closing sales. He’d built a successful business, but new clients weren’t getting the attention they expected, and older clients were starting to slip away. As a result, the team was scrambling to keep all the details straight, and he knew he needed help.

Getting the right people into the right seats was necessary for our first six months working together. The growth experienced by the business had changed some of the roles within, and certain employees weren’t suitable fits for the business’s needs. For the greater good of the company, a few people needed to be let go. But it set them on the right track for renewed growth.

Frustration 5: Nothing Works

Perhaps the most pressing frustration is that no amount of effort seems to address them. Ironically, visionaries tend to struggle with what is required to unstick an organization’s gears: structure.

That was the case with the founder of a construction business I met a few years ago. We got talking about the role of the Integrator—an idea he’d never heard about—and he told me, “That’s what I ask my secretary to do.” I told him if his secretary was a good Integrator, he’d better give her a promotion, a new title, and a raise.

Fast forward to today, and that construction company is running on EOS with a dedicated Integrator. “It’s like night and day,” their CEO told me the other day. “I had no idea I was so disorganized.” Coming from someone who works in a precision industry, that’s saying something.

Ready to tackle your frustrations?

Do the Five Frustrations sound familiar to you? EOS might be the answer you’re looking for. As a Certified EOS Implementer, I work with entrepreneurs at every phase of business growth to overcome obstacles using the tools offered by EOS. Send me an email or give me a call at (818) 649-1103 to talk shop.