Biggest Business Challenges: New Research Data for 2021 (Infographic)

By Jessica Wishart

Biggest Business Challenges: New Research Data for 2021 (Infographic)

Over the last few years, we've been collecting data from our Rhythm community - including YPO members,  entrepreneurs of the year, and fast-growth companies - on their biggest business challenges.  We are always interested in understanding what keeps our CEOs up at night so we can better help them navigate challenges and avoid failure. As I analyzed hundreds of meaningful responses, the answers fell into a few major categories: People (leadership, performance, employee engagement, high performance culture, hiring & retention); Execution (implementing strategies, completing projects, measuring KPIs, establishing processes and systems); and Strategy (growth, strategic planning, M&A, funding, scaling).
 

Here's a visual of the high-level breakdown of the biggest business challenges:

Biggest Business Problem by Category

Our team looked at the data a few ways. I did a card sort to figure out the themes and categories, and we did an analysis by the company's revenue bands, as well, to determine where larger companies may be struggling in different areas than smaller ones.

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Here's how the biggest business challenge categories above break out into most popular themes:

People

PEOPLE category

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Execution

EXECUTION category

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Strategy

STRATEGY category

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When we analyzed the responses broken down by revenue bands, we found some patterns that kept coming up in the data:
 
<$1 million: 
 
$1-5 million:
  • Growth
  • Managing growth
  • Pipeline growth
  • Scaling Up your business
  • Efficiency
  • Building team, working together, team management
  • Culture of execution and alignment
  • Measuring performance and productivity 
 
$5-10 million:
  • Getting leads, pipeline, getting clients, customer acquisition
  • OKR goal tracking, KPI set up, and measurement
  • Lack of strategic plan
  • Strategy execution, execution of strategic goals 
  • Performance management
  • Growth
 
$10-25 million:
  • Managing strategic initiatives, executing strategic plan, delivering annual plan, executing on our strategy
  • Visibility
  • Planning
  • Tracking initiatives
 
$25-50 million:
  • Managing operational and financial guarantees, managing growth, consistent delivery
  • Missing numbers and deadlines
  • Creating strategic operational structure
  • Cascading strategy down multiple areas, tying individual activities to overarching goals, aligning projects to strategic planning and goals
  • Accountability 
 
$50-100 million:
  • Growth
  • Team dynamics, alignment
  • Lack of accountability, departmental silos, disciplined employees
 
$100-250 million:
  • Poor execution
  • Keeping 3–5-year strategic plans live and active, tracking strategic plans throughout the year
  • Motivating staff, engagement
  • Cross-functional team alignment
  • Improving weekly meetings
  • Spreadsheets not effective
  • Tracking KPIs and goals
  • Coordination, continuous improvement 
  • Simple systems, clarity 
 
$250-500 million:
  • Firefighting
  • Performance management
  • Execution, putting system in place
  • Role clarity and job scorecards
 
$500 million-$1 billion:
  • Translate strategy to operational, flow corporate strategy to the subsidiary manager and department heads, tracking the same, 
  • Align company goals and teams
  • Accountability, lack of consequence management
  • Facilitation, building strategic plan and exit
  • Operational organization, getting organized
 
As you are reading this list, many of these challenges resonate with you as a business leader. Companies of every size are wondering how to grow their business to the next level with the right strategy, processes, people, and tools in place to manage that growth effectively. It can be comforting to know that you're not alone, and even more comforting to know that our experts have helped leaders successfully navigate all these challenges and more!
 
Our consultants have turned their insights from working with companies of every size and in every industry over the last 15 years into a proven playbook to help companies grow to $100 million and even $1 billion. Not only do they have great tips and tricks to share, but we also have the most robust and easy to use strategy execution software platform on the market to help you turn their insights into action and ensure your growth strategies come to life in your company. 
 
If you are ready to stop staying up nights worrying about the hundreds of challenges your business could be facing at any given moment, our experts are ready to help you tackle your business challenges, whatever they may be.
 
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