Image by Iosphere.
Life can seem like a war where you’re working up to one final battle and then you will have won. All you need to do is reach success, and then you can stop.
But, life doesn’t really work like that. Instead, it’s an endless journey of ups and downs, good times and bad times. But, a smart entrepreneur knows how to do their very best to limit how bad it can get, or how to avoid the situation completely.
I know these are big examples, but I mention them, because you will be familiar with them. IBM, Nokia, Microsoft, and RIM (Blackberry) were all out-and-out winners in their fields. They were the big boys, the titans, destined to be uncontested.
But, they all fell from grace.
These companies thought they had won the war, that they could not be toppled from their respective thrones. They ignored the competition, thinking their new ideas would never catch on. And entrepreneurs, running something much smaller than these examples, can very easily feel this sense of invincibility.
You build a successful product, it sells well, you grow astronomically, and you think you have made it. In the comfort of your growth, you remove your armour. You stop looking for the dangers, for the mistakes you, or your people are making.
But, while you rest, a beast is lurking in your business. And, before you know it, your world comes crashing down. A silent train-crash could be building within your business and when it arrives, there’s almost nothing you can do about it.
If there is one constant in business, it’s Risk. Just because you are doing great things, have an innovative product, a great price point, or amazing logistics, your customers are still at risk.
You need to be on the look out for what might be going wrong, and these might not be obvious symptoms. Get good at thinking about how a problem could arise. Do not trust the customer, or a process to behave positively. Ask the most difficult, and unlikely question. “What would happen if… [insert world-ending problem].”
The hugely unlikely situation has a terrible habit of arriving right on cue. A moment of inaction can cause a huge amount of grief and work. The belief that new-comers cannot out-smart the established has a way of killing you off.
If you have recurring customers, customers on a subscription, or contract, keep in touch with them. Do not under-estimate how frequently customers will not be happy, but will never tell you this. Instead, they will most often moan to themselves, or listen to the flirtations of your competition.
You should do everything you can to understand your competition, why customers might find them attractive, and ensure your business is constantly adapting itself to keep meeting your customers’ desires.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t enjoy yourself when things are going well. You should take the time to feel proud, to have a celebration with your team, and to reap the rewards of success. But, do not get too comfortable. There is no such thing as winning the war in the entrepreneur game.
Have fun, but keep the right people on watch for the dangers that might be out there.
Let me know what risks it have been comin across in your business in the comments below.