Three ways past success can stifle business

by Kate on December 28, 2012

Past business success can stifle needed change. It can blind you to the need for change, or make it hard to push through the discomfort and disruption of new ways. Here are three things to watch out for as you consider changes needed to take your business to the next level.

Making change in business isn't as straightforward as moving house

Moving house, even moving countries is relatively straightforward. Things are put into a truck or container then you and they travel to a new place. It’s disruptive and adjustment is usually required, but you’re there making a fresh start.

When it comes to change in a business it’s not so easy! A new marketing campaign, or a new hire doesn’t transport the business instantly to a new world. A successful business can struggle to make or implement change even if it is critical for survival – even with those high profile new plans or people which promise so much.

Here are three ways past success can stifle your business by making change difficult to achieve.

1.  Complacency: you are comfortable where you are

Your hard work has paid off in revenue and profit. “Aaah! (you sigh contentedly), this is what we aimed for”, as you relax on holiday or buy a new car.

There might be a niggling concern about threats and risks. Or the business that once excited you has become a grind, you’re not spending as much time on it – and it shows.

Still, if finances are OK, and you’re not working too hard it’s easy to reinforce the idea you’re doing what’s needed — at least for now.

But it’s important to remember there’s no holding pattern in business. If you’re not moving forward, you face decline or extinction. Eventually, complacency or failure to innovate turns to decline.

The good news is that a business review and planning process can help you notice the issues and opportunities, and work out how to address them.

But beware….A plan is not enough. Here are a couple of other things that can stifle change:

2.  You’re already busy. Which means the new actions don’t get taken. Despite good intentions the day-to-day means we don’t implement the “To do’s” from a planning meeting. This can be a case of the urgent (or easy?) getting in the way of the important.

3.  Change isn’t instant, or easy. The new track may not be comfortable or easy, unforeseen challenges may occur or new skills acquired. The effort of change can be burdensome or frustrating, especially if results are patchy or slow, or you’re used to things ‘just working’.

These two things mean you’ll need support systems to carry you through change. This might include regular progress reports, team meetings, and coaching or mentoring from people with relevant experience.

Change isn’t always comfortable or easy. Established business practices can create forces that stifle change even if you have a plan! Remember, planning isn’t doing! Even deciding isn’t doing!

At some stage you and your team must do the necessary work and find ways to keep at it when the going is tough. But the rewards will be there with better results and greater satisfaction.

What roadblocks to change have you found? What helps navigate them?


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