We have all seen it happen.  A great business goes south.  The going south can be due to a number of situations – change in trends, economy, embezzlement  (way too much of this for sure,) illness, mismanagement of records, too little capital to support needs, not keeping one’s eye on the ball (aka business.)

It is so easy to become too comfortable.  After all, it has always worked well.

Particularly in today’s world of fast change, one is best served by keeping vigilant.   These are a few tips for avoiding the pitfall of ‘too comfortable.’

1)  Have key success indicators, perhaps five that are monitored on, a routine basis, no less than quarterly.  Make certain to review the indicators themselves for relevance.  Examples:

  • Quarterly sales against prior year and budget
  • Error rates

The latter, error rates, could become not necessary for monitoring if the error rates are very low for a long time.  It might be better to instead track something else and look again at error rates after a year or change in personnel.

2)  Survey customers for how they feel about your service, products, location, whatever is relevant to your business.  Don’t do it just once.  Do it once and then periodically.  Such surveys can become an entry into your key success factor, or kept separately.

3)  Survey your staff for satisfaction and have programs to enhance their work environment.

4) Invite an outsider, expert colleague to take a look for a fresh perspective.

5)  Keep up with your industry and its changes….and related key vendors and THEIR influencing factors, such as low inventory, shipping delays, or other supply impediments.  It rarely hurts and usually helps to maintain a positive, partnership-type relationship with vendors.

6)  There is a process SWOT, standing for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, that many use as part of their annual planning.  This is a process of listing under each category those things internal and external that are currently influencing your business and planning based on this.  Not counting on only your view but also views of people inside and outside the organization can help.

7)  Maintain a face in the market place.  Don’t quit advertising because you have enough customers.  Tomorrow, next week, or sometime thereafter you will not have enough.  Then, re-entry is painful.  Consider whether there are types of customers you want to target, thus reducing the pressure and need to say ‘no’ to someone.  Or merely keep your name periodically in the news, in the  market to remind people of who you are and what you have to offer.  You want to be top of mind no matter what.

There are many ways to ensure not getting too comfortable and I hope others will contribute theirs here.