Every entrepreneur strives for success. But be careful: achieving it comes with its own set of problems, problems that can doom a business. Indeed, over the years I have seen way too many businesses go under about a year after they finally became financially successful.
Why does this happen? In my experience, there are five habits that successful business owners slide into that might signal the beginning of the end.
1. We spoil ourselves
After making the sacrifices necessary to make your business successful, surely you deserve a nicer car, a better house, some new clothes, and a business class trip to somewhere exotic? Absolutely. But you need to be super careful that your new luxurious lifestyle doesn’t become an addiction that breaks the bank. By all means have a splurge--but go back to instant noodles on a regular basis to keep you anchored to reality.
2. We lose the hunger that made us do whatever it took to become successful
Think about what it took to succeed. The crazy hours, the people you chased, the countless times you go above and beyond the call of duty to get the deal or ensure that a customer was happy? All too often success leads to a general lessening of that hunger and drive. We need to be conscious of this--perhaps not alarmed, but certainly aware enough to know when we need to get fired up enough to stay successful.
3. We stop spending quality time with our customers
As a business becomes more successful, it employs more staff. From here the business owner starts spending more time in the back office. We grow too busy to serve customers (after all, we have people for that now.) Whereas a loyal customer used to be greeted by the owner with a hearty welcome, they are now just downgraded to the rank of “just another customer”. From here it isn’t long before customers stop feeling the love altogether. No matter how big your business or how busy you get, never lose touch with the people who pay your bills.
4. We lose our reason “why?”
For most business owners the big “why?” in the early days is less success than survival. Once survival ceases to be an issue and we move into the success zone, we can actually start to feel lost. The urgency that propelled us to be successful is gone and now we find ourselves struggling with motivation. As business owners, I think it is vitally important to always have our next challenge mapped out before we conquer the current one. This moving target ensures we always have a place to aim for and hopefully that will keep us motivated.
5. We start to believe our success will never end
I don’t think we need to live in fear of imminent failure--in fact quite the opposite. But believing your own hype puts your business in peril. So by all means embrace your success. You earned it. But be aware of the nasty habits that can accompany success and be prepared to take serious action.