Congratulations on your accomplishment. You have built a successful business through hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. You have invested time, money and sweat, and it has finally paid off. It is time to enjoy some of the benefits and relax a little.
But, be sure to pay attention to the words “relax a little.”
Did you know there are times in a business’s life cycle when mismanaged success leads directly to its downfall? There are naturally occurring milestones along the way where an owner could unknowingly trigger a decline.
The United States was founded by settlers who traveled across our country in covered wagons. It was a long, dangerous trip and many did not make it. Their most effective defense, when under attack and making camp at night, was to circle the wagons. They used them for protection against people, animals, and weather by putting their assets (people, livestock, horses, and supplies) on the inside.
Knowing when to travel and when to circle the wagons can help you protect the business you have worked so hard to build. Where are you on your journey?
Occasional Rest Stops
Not all growth is good growth. All too often it leads to loss of direction, turnover, mistakes, lack of purpose and overextended resources (i.e., people, equipment, money, systems, supplies). A successful company ruined by poorly planned, rapid growth happens so frequently it is a cliché.
Many owners are not good at understanding when they are expecting too much from themselves and others. Sometimes your employees – and you – need a rest to recharge their energy before starting the next step. Unfortunately, owners commonly burn out hard-working, responsible employees by ignoring the fact that everyone needs a break now and then.
Other people achieve success and then go on a permanent break. They stop growing and trying to improve because they “have made it.” However, there is no standing still in business. Complacency is an ineffective and destructive management style.
If you are not moving forward you are going backward – skilled people leave, buildings and equipment age, profit decreases as costs rise, earnings shrink with inflation, customers dwindle as competitors grow and product lines get old.
Taking on Supplies
No one gets across the business landscape without adequate resources. The more successful your company is, the more resources you need to support, manage and protect it. Taking on supplies is a reoccurring phase of the business cycle. It is a time when you regroup, evaluate and take onboard what you need to get to the next level – not resting, but not moving forward either.
Now comes the phase where you make sure you are headed in the right direction and have a sound strategy before moving forward. The point where you assess whether your current supplies, financials, customers, products, systems and people can make the next leg of the trip.
You and your employees have renewed energy and spirit for the job ahead. The supplies have been replenished, updated and fixed. Your assets have been improved (i.e., satisfied customers, committed key-employees, up-to-date systems and metrics, quality product, a reliable workforce, sound financials). It is time to go forward.
In any journey, there are always ruts, obstructions, and outlaws for which to be on the lookout. The better prepared you are for these problems, the better your likelihood to overcome them.