After two decades of coaching business owners to succeed, I’ve come to observe a clear pattern of what causes those business owners to stay stuck in an owner-reliant business and never succeed in scaling their business.

It’s the difference between how some entrepreneurs are able to consistently grow their businesses by 50 percent or more per year, year after year, while other business owners struggle just to maintain the status quo, working long hours with no sense of freedom.

This pattern of those entrepreneurs who get stuck in the “self-employment trap” boils down to one of three excuses that they make.

Review the list of these three excuses and see which of them have their claws into you and your company.

Excuse 1: “I’m just too busy running my business to step back and develop my business as a business. Maybe later when I have more time…”

Think about this for a moment. How many business owners do you know who are so busy doing the “job” of their business that they don’t make the time to step back and build their business as a business? Too busy to get outside help to make it better? Too busy to try out new solutions to chronic problems in the business?

That makes about as much sense as the person digging a hole who says, “If I just keep digging my hole eventually I can dig my way out,” never realizing that the more they dig, the deeper they get and the more reliant their company gets on the owner’s being there every day.

Most business owners who want to grow their companies do it by working harder and personally producing more. But the more you the business owner do for your business, the more you’ve got to keep on doing because your business gets more and more reliant on you being there to “produce” for the business.

Instead you’ve got to find a way to do less and get your business to do more.

The biggest irony is that once you get on this path, your business will be more successful, more valuable, and more secure.

“But David, this just doesn’t sound possible…”

We’ll take the case of Tom Santilli. Tom owns an electronics wholesaling business in Florida. When Tom came to us seven years ago, he already had a successful business netting him over $1 million a year. But he was working 80-hour weeks sacrificing just about everything to do it. In fact, it was his wife who first pushed him to begin working with us because she wanted her husband back.

Today, seven years after letting this excuse go and instead committing to grow his company, bringing in outside talent as needed, Tom’s grown his company from $5 million in sales to over $20 million per year in sales. But more important than the money, Tom has his life back and his family has Tom back.

And still many business owners are just going to hide behind the excuse that they don’t have the time. They’ll wait until someday they magically clear their calendar, get past the current fire they are dealing with, and then they’ll do the things that will make their business less reliant on them.

Sadly their someday never comes…

Instead you’ve got to make the decision that your someday is now! And that your starting point is today!

When you do this, and back it up with simple, focused action to incrementally change the way you are building your business, the results will amaze you.

Excuse 2: “I don’t have the money. I can’t afford to hire more staff to take the workload. I can’t afford to bring in outside expertise to guide me. I’ve got to keep doing it all myself.”

Most business owners think only in terms of what it will “cost” them to invest in the staff, or the systems, or the education, or the outside help they need to grow and develop their company. For them, the decision is skewed because they only look at the cost of doing something better and different.

What they ignore is the true cost of the status quo!

Here’s a simple example. One of our business coaching clients, Chad, ran a third-generation family-owned manufacturing company doing $2 million a year in sales. For over a year he had just accepted that his sales would continue to stagnate or even decline because the cost of getting the help to do something about it was just “too expensive” (plus he was “too busy”).

Finally one day, he reached his threshold and made the decision that the status quo wasn’t acceptable any more. This is when we met him and began working together with him.

He made one small change in the first 90 days of working together that generated over $70,000 in immediate sales. (He instituted a formal “reactivation system,” which won him back two former customers with zero marketing cost.)

This simple idea, which did require him to change his old way of operating the business in the sales area, generated a quick boost of cash that he could now use to reinvest back in the business.

Yet business owners are going to say that they just can’t afford it.

The irony is that for just about every business owner I’ve ever worked with, the money they needed to invest to take their business to the next level was already there in their business.

They just needed our help to quickly unlock the hard dollars that the “status quo” was actually costing them.

For example, Bonnie, a five-year business coaching client, found $50,000 per year of uncollected receivables in her professional practice that she was able to quickly recover through implementing a better collections system, with a stronger control, and a more competent team member in place. Over five years this one simple upgrade to her business generated over a quarter million of additional profit for her company.

“But David, it just costs too much too grow and develop my business. I can’t afford it right now…”

And this from the business owner who is already losing 10 times that to the cost of his or her real status quo.

Excuse 3: “Now is just not the right time.”

This may just be the most damaging excuse of all. This is the business owner who says,”David, I know I need to do things different. I know I need outside talent and help to do it. I know that it will more than pay for itself many times over. It’s just that right now isn’t the right time. After I finish this one project… After I make this one hire… Next month… Next year… But not right now.”

As if there is ever a perfect time to do anything.

Successful entrepreneurs start now, with whatever they have at hand, and make things happen.

Personally, what I think all three excuses boil down to is one nasty little four-letter word–fear.

Fear of failure: “What will they say if I fail? Will they say they told me so? Will they laugh?”

Fear of success: “What will they think if I succeed? Will they be jealous? Will they resent me? Will I be able to maintain it or will it come crashing down on me?”

Fear of the unknown: “What will happen? What monsters are lurking in the shadows? What don’t I know that I don’t know?”

So how did you stack up on these three excuses? Do any of them have their hooks in your psyche? If so, what are you going to do about it, and when?

There is so much potential there for you in your business, I wish you great success in grabbing on to it.

Also, to help you grow your business and get your life back, we just put the finishing touches on a powerful free toolkit which includes 21 in-depth video trainings on how to intelligently scale your company. To access this free toolkit click here. Enjoy.