We are taught, from an early age, to suppress our weaknesses. When something doesn’t go our way, we’re encouraged to get back up and brush the dust off- setbacks build character. Research from the Harvard Business Review found that 97% of people can readily identify a weakness that’s holding them back in their careers, yet few make any progress in converting them to strengths. In job interviews, when the interviewer asks that dreaded question, “What’s your biggest weakness?” following the question about your greatest strength, you fumble to spin your weakness into a strength and rehash some anecdote about how you’ve learned from your weakness and it’s made you into a stronger person. You would never dare reveal your darkest, deepest insecurities and flaws.
Let me be clear on one thing: Having weaknesses does not make you a weak person. Everyone has weaknesses, and that goes for businesses as well. Businesses are run by people, after all, and people are not perfect. But what if I told you that instead of trying to suppress your company’s weakness and pretend it’s not there, you should openly acknowledge it so as to bring out your greatest strength and convert that into growth?
As author David Finkel advises in his article for Inc. Magazine, in order to leverage growth, your company needs to find its “sweet spot.” This means identifying the limiting factor that’s holding you back and focus your efforts on improving that area so as to promote overall growth. Every startup is going to experience setbacks and make mistakes in the early years, but instead of burying those mistakes and pretending they’re not a problem, the key to growth is acknowledging whatever went wrong and learning from the mistake. Here is a step-by-step guide for converting weaknesses into strengths.
Step 1: Identify your Limiting Factor
First, you will need to identify whatever it is that’s holding your company back. There may be more than one thing, but try to find the single largest constraint currently limiting your growth and work on correcting that issue. Once you effectively push back the Limiting Factor so it is no longer the biggest constraint, you can focus on the other things holding your company back, one at a time in order of importance. “This is how you grow your business in a leveraged way– by focusing each quarter on pushing back your current Limiting Factor,” says Finkel.
Step 2: Brainstorm a list of ideas
Next, make a list of ideas for how you can solve whatever’s holding your company back. For instance, if lack of internal communication is the problem, you could craft a detailed communications plan for the whole team, such as more frequent meetings, imposing a time window for when employees should respond to emails, and a more open idea sharing policy. Try to come up with a least 10 ideas so that you can then break them down into two categories: low-hanging fruit and home run. A low-hanging fruit is an idea that’s simple and easy to implement, whereas a home run may be more difficult to achieve, but if you do it will have a huge payoff for the business. Your ideas will be a combination of low-hanging fruits and home runs.
Step 3: Find the sweet spots
The next step is to find the “sweet spots,” as Finkel calls them. Sweet spots are the ideas that are both low-hanging fruits and home runs, meaning they will be easy to implement, with huge payoffs. These ideas are the ones you should focus on first, because they will have the biggest returns for growing business.
Step 4: Put your ideas into action
Lastly, you just need to turn your ideas into actions! Get to work and make them happen. If it helps, formulate an official action plan for your team of who does what and by what date.
If you follow these steps, then as long as your ideas are sound, you should start to see growth, and you’ll realize that weaknesses are not such a bad thing after all if you know how to turn them into strengths.