Businesses often hit a certain threshold and struggle to break through that next-level barrier. The barrier might be measured in the number of employees, or maybe in gross sales.

I recently attended a meeting facilitated by Paul C. Bellows, business and leadership coach. Several local business owners attended the meeting to discuss this challenge. Here are some of their suggestions.

The first step is to remove any limiting beliefs you have. If you think you will have a hard time getting beyond a certain point, you will.

Before you consider hiring more people or generating more businesses, examine the foundation of your business. It must be strong enough to hold the weight of future growth. Consider all areas like operations, human resources, marketing and accounting. Are your systems and processes optimized and running smoothly? How efficient is your organization and which areas need improvement?

Consider your human resources for a moment. Do you have the right people in the right places? Do you have an effective system for hiring and retaining the right people? Is your employee morale high and turnover low? Have you established a good culture within your organization? Are you tapping into the full potential of each employee?

Profitability is important, too. You must know for certain which products and services are profitable and which are not. Track the income and expenses for each product or service separately. Remove the ones that are not as profitable, and expand the ones that are.

Pay special attention to your target markets and develop some small, well-defined niche markets. Design a specific marketing plan to penetrate and capture these niche markets.

Because there are so many different areas to consider, and so many moving parts within each area, you are going to need some help. Hire a good business and leadership coach to help you chart a course to a new level of production. For more information, visit paulcbellows.com.

Bill Nordbrock is vice president of community relations for SCORE Southern Arizona, a nonprofit that offers free small-business counseling and mentoring by appointment. For information, go to southernarizona.score.org, send an email to mentoring@scoresouthernaz.org or call 505-3636.