The 7 Most Devastating Words in Business | Compass Point Skip to main content


“We have always done it that way”

This phrase seems harmless.

Yet, these 7 words and the resistance behind them could cost your business dearly.

Are you familiar with the “Valleys of Death”?

The metaphor “Valleys of Death” refer to scalability and growth challenges businesses face. Revenue plateaus and backward slides companies encounter as they strive for the first $1M, surpassing $1M, then reaching 10M, and again when achieving 50+M.

From the inset chart you can see, that as a percentage, only .4% of US companies reach $10 million or greater. In other words, out of 28,000,000 companies, only roughly 112,000 ever reach the $10 million revenue mark.

What keeps companies from a steady upward march to hit these goals? A recurring theme we hear in family business often is, “We have always done it that way.”

This statement is an indicator of resistance and it shows up most often in two areas. Let’s take a closer look at each.


It is hard to look at something that you have created and say, “we need to change this”’ especially if it has worked up to this point. The truth is what got your business off the ground to $1M, will not take you to $5M in revenue and beyond. The only thing constant in a growing business is change.

Or what if 80% of business revenue is tied to personal relationships with the G1 owner? What happens if he/she doesn’t/can’t come to work one day? This very scenario frequently plays out in the “valleys” between new revenue peaks.

Processes or Systems

Owners often start out wearing all that hats. In the beginning, you could track your 6-8 clients in your head. Today, you have a sales team servicing dozens, perhaps hundreds, of prospects and clients. Keeping sales notes in your head will not work anymore.

Or maybe how you advertised your products or services in your local paper with great ROI.  Today, your territory is 4x bigger than your local papers reach, and the area it does cover has experienced a readership drop of 60%.

Changing the landscape

The speed at which we do business has accelerated 10X in the last decade, and that change continues to gain momentum every year. Are you doing what is needed to keep pace and asking, “is doing it this way still the best way for the company and our customers?”

Celebrate what got you here and embrace what will be needed to take the business to the next level.

The Valleys of Death do not have to be on your business path. Let’s uncover what could be holding the business back from incredible growth and scaling to the next revenue benchmark.

Remember… to the remain the same is to coast, and coasting only leads downhill.

Schedule a 30-minute discovery call with me.  I would love to help your family business to even greater success.

Matthew Baran profile picture
Matthew Baran

Matthew is a Senior Business Advisor at Compass Point Consulting and provides hands-on consulting & coaching to help family businesses close performance gaps; give owners practical, actionable tools that drive growth; deliver training to develop leaders and position the business for successful ownership transition – all on their terms.

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