It's been said that for a neophyte to become a master, it takes ten thousand hours of practice and work.  Some quick math tells us that means at least three years of solid education into how to do a job, but more likely, that figure is closer to five years.

It's ironic, then, that so many people today change jobs every 3 to 5 years - about the exact time they should be getting to the point of actually knowing exactly how to do it.

In the realm of small business, that same number - five years - is also bandied about in facts and figures - fully 80% of small businesses started today will close in that five-year period. 

For both examples, the reasons are endless - family, economy, different opportunities (usually sold as "better" opportunities), and, of course, critical mistakes made in the development of the business or career that force someone to leave a job or close a business.

But there's something else, something I wrote about long ago and have revisited many times in these pages, as a speaker, as a coach, and as an entrepreneur myself.

People call it various things - stagnation, burn out, stress, boredom, or simply the lack of passion to "do" the task anymore - but in the end, it's all about hitting a plateau that you can't - or won't - get over.

Now, there's two ways that this scenario occurs, and, as a result, it can be perceived as "good" or "bad," although neither is, intrinsically, either.  The situation simply exists and it's up to the individual to decide where and how they can move beyond this situation.  I simply call this the comfort zone.

Basically, you've got enough.  Enough business, enough money, enough free time, enough of all the "stuff" you've been told you need and, on the horizon, you can see where things can get even better if you just keep doing exactly what you've been doing.  You aren't sure how far away that time is, but the bills are paid and seem likely to continue to be paid, so you get comfortable. 

The pleasure of your life is slightly more intense than the pain. 

You got to take a vacation last year.

Your credit cards aren't maxed out.

You had steak for dinner last Friday night.

Your mind, unfortunately, is wired to take all this in and what it computes is hard wired into our very DNA (and is known as "Negative Bias").  In short, there is enough "good" to keep us right here.  When people get to this point, though, they fail to acknowledge just how tenuous the area really is.  One lost customer can ruin everything.  A bad online review can play havoc with lead acquisition, or a financial emergency can make life at home hard. 

And this is precisely why the "comfort zone" kills careers and businesses - a tiny lack of focus and your small company is plunged into the red.   It's happened to millions of people and the odds tell me it's happened to you before, too.  So, here's my challenge to you:

Think about how you are currently doing business and where the chinks are in your armor.  Instead of plotting a vacation, revise your business plan.  See how your company can bring disruptive change into your market and don't be afraid to be that disruptive change.  I've spent four decades in learning how small businesses succeed and, even now, I'm plotting my own paradigm shifts in the world of entrepreneurial teaching and I'll be sharing with you this month how I've moved passed my own comfort zone - coaching, writing, and consulting - to give anyone who desires it the chance to supercharge their own small business...

...Before they ever open the doors to it!