Do You Have a Treadmill Business?

By Greg Herring
Feet running on a treadmill

One of the things I enjoy about the weeks around New Year’s Day is that the pace of my business often slows down. The change of pace gives me an opportunity to reflect on things that are not urgent, but important.

Urgent things demand to be reviewed or fixed now. I am sure you see these items in your business. Examples include deadlines, customer complaints, and troubled employee situations.

Important matters do not make demands. They just sit there, waiting patiently for attention. Sometimes they wait weeks, months, or even years, before they receive the attention they deserve.

In this blog post, I am asking you to consider an important question in your business—a strategic question:

Do you have a treadmill business?

I will continue with additional strategic questions in the next few blog posts.

Now, let’s talk about treadmills. Odd, I know, but hang with me—I think it will be worth it.

As they relate to exercise, treadmills can be quite useful. If you are in a strange place or need to exercise during odd hours, a treadmill can help you stay in shape.

But, here’s the problem that I have with treadmills:  You work really hard, but where do you get to? Nowhere.

Getting Off—and Staying Off—the Business Treadmill

Are you and your people working hard to generate revenue, satisfy customers, to hire and train employees? Nothing wrong with that.

Now, for the key question: Is the business getting anywhere? Is the business generating significant profit? Is the enterprise value of your business growing?

If you and your team are working hard and not producing significant profit or increasing the value of the business, then you have a treadmill business.

Having a treadmill business might be fun for a while, but the fun will soon go away. The business might go away as well; another victim of competition. I have had conversations with more than one business owner who has told me, “Greg, we work really hard and are good at what we do, but we never seem to have any significant profit. It has been that way for years.”

If you know me or have read this blog post, you know that I think business owners should be rewarded for the risk that they take and the capital that they invest in their businesses. Profit is that reward.

In these next blog posts, I will discuss four more strategic questions. Answering these four questions is essential to getting off and staying off the business treadmill. Read on!


What important matters are you pondering in your business at the start of this new year?
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