Do you ever feel like you’re on a roller coaster? Nearly twenty years ago, when I started my first business, a veteran entrepreneur told me what self-employment would feel like – one day, you’re riding high and meeting your goals. The next day, everything is going wrong, and you’re in the basement. This was one of the most honest and relatable descriptions of owning a business shared with me since. The feeling is universal because if we’re in business long enough, we will experience seasons of growth and stagnation. A business plateau is a normal part of the business cycle.

Many of us are breaking barriers and carving our own paths to success. But the journey is not without its challenges. Let’s get into why we experience plateaus, including the unique challenges women encounter in the business world, explore how to recognize when you’re in a plateau and discuss strategies to boost revenue.

Business Plateaus and the Challenges of Being a Woman Entrepreneur

Gender Bias and Stereotypes

Whether subtle or overt, we’ve all gotten the message at one point – some people still think we should be doing something more “traditional,” like caregiving for parents and/or kids, homemaking, or supporting our partners’ careers (and some of us are doing all of the above while growing a business).

Being a woman in business often means confronting profoundly ingrained gender biases and stereotypes. Women entrepreneurs are often underestimated or subjected to unfair standards in business, networking, finance, and venture capital, making it more challenging to pull out of a business plateau.

But, as Serena Williams said, “The success of every woman should be the inspiration to another. We should raise each other up and praise each other’s achievements.” Our greatest opportunities lie in supporting and lifting up other women.

Get my guide, Push Past the Plateau, free.

Access to Funding

Research shows that we’re getting the short end of the stick when it comes to funding. Women entrepreneurs face greater difficulties in accessing funding compared to their male counterparts.

According to the Federal Reserve, women-run businesses are less likely to be approved for business loans. This financial gender gap can hinder growth and innovation. TechCrunch reports that women received just 2% of all venture capital investments YTD 2023, a decline compared to 2022.

While you may feel like the underdog, you can succeed at securing funding. The key is not to wait until you need it. Ensure your books are up-to-date, that your personal and business credit are in good shape, and that you can demonstrate the ability to repay a loan. Secure a business credit card or line of credit before the chips are down.

Networking and Mentorship

Building a solid support network and seeking mentorship can be a game-changer, especially when working to turn around slow or shrinking sales.

But networking is challenging when women juggle multiple roles like child, partner, parent, homemaker, boss, friend, volunteer… you get the idea. And it can be tougher for women to find female mentors because there are fewer women entrepreneurs.

Building a support squad is 100% non-negotiable, though. Developing relationships with fellow entrepreneurs, mentors, and dreamers who get your vision is critical. Sheryl Sandberg told us, “Raise your expectations,” and that includes the people you surround yourself with. Don’t be afraid to reach out and introduce yourself or check out programs and groups created specifically for women.

Is it a Business Plateau?

Stagnant Growth

This one is no surprise – you’re experiencing a business plateau if sales aren’t increasing, if sales are down, or if you’re doing more work to make the same revenue. Bottom line, when income, customer base, or market share remains relatively constant for an extended period or drops, it’s time to take a closer look. Recognizing a plateau is the first step toward revitalizing your business. Check in with your bookkeeper or review your monthly accounting to identify growing or slowing income and expenses so you’re better prepared to respond quickly to plateaus in the future.

The Love is Gone

Oprah said, “Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” If what excites you is no longer your business, it’s time to pay close attention. My clients tend to lose their enjoyment, motivation, and focus when their businesses are underperforming. If I could share one piece of advice with every women entrepreneur, it would be this – you must turn around your mindset to turn around your business. If you’ve lost the passion for your products, services, or clients, change them. Success comes from nurturing work you love, so change it if you don’t love it.

Strategies to Overcome a Business Plateau

Learn from an Expert

If you’re struggling with a slowdown, it’s time to get expert guidance to understand the specific root causes of your plateau, improve your mindset, and learn how to avoid plateaus in the future. Check out our live, interactive webinar, Breakthrough Blueprint: Strategies to Push Past the Plateau.

Mix It Up

One powerful strategy to overcome a business plateau is diversifying your products or services. This is especially productive when adapting to changing market trends and consumer tastes.

When Netflix was founded, it rented out DVD movies by mail. It could’ve ridden out its mail service to the bitter end, but instead adapted to the streaming environment and now also develops its own entertainment content. Before PayPal was PayPal, it was Confinity, a digital security firm that didn’t find success until it began offering online financial services, and Berkshire Hathaway expanded from textiles to diversified holdings.

The point is you can reinvent your business again and again, including your brand image, products, and services. Diversifying can mean breathing fresh air into your company, appealing to a broader customer base, and feeling more fulfilled by your work.

Tech It to the Next Level

From manufacturing to project management, innovation is key to overcoming plateaus. Stay current with the latest technological trends in your industry that lower overhead and implement apps that increase operational productivity and efficiency.

Marketing Like a Boss

Does your marketing need a makeover? It’s helpful to evaluate your marketing when business slows. Use social media, content marketing, and storytelling to connect with your audience. Identify your most popular content and create more like it. Revisit forms of marketing you may not be using currently, like mass media or referral incentives. Try something different, like calling your top customers for feedback and introductions to new prospects.

Data-Driven Diva

These numbers don’t lie. Whether your business is new or established, small or large, it’s critical to leverage data analytics to make informed decisions and understand your customers. The world is evolving quickly, as are consumer tastes and market trends. Analyze this data and financial reporting to keep up.

The journey of a woman entrepreneur is not just breaking through plateaus, it’s about continuously reinventing and growing a business that reaches new heights and defies expectations. Get our complete guide, Push Past the Plateau, free.