Can you be too successful?

May 21, 2012

An interesting thing that I’ve seen with business owners is that when they achieve a level of success that they are happy with, some then take their foot of the gas.

There are a few reasons why this is.  Firstly, simply achieving the desired level of business success is a good time for a celebration so the business owner does just that – celebrate, by taking time off or even out of the business.  Secondly, achieving the goal is difficult and the business owner can be tired and just needs a rest.  Thirdly, when the business owner achieves the level of success, they can get bored.  But more common – fourthly, the business owner gets lazy….

….which is actually very easy to get!  If a business owner has achieved the success they want they can suddenly forget everything they did that got them there in the first place.  They have had to work hard, absolutely, but they forget that they often have to keep working hard to maintain the success.  It may be a different sort of working hard, i.e. it is likely to be more managing than production based, but managing a business from afar can be as hard as working very hard in it.

The one thing that the business owner has strived for, sometimes for years, is the one thing that can be their undoing.  A business can go from dizzy heights to dizzy lows and worse very quickly.

In a former life working for a large accountancy firm, I got involved in assessing the winner of ‘entrepreneur of the year’.  We often saw the winners of this award crash and burn after, it was almost like they really did think they had made it (watch out if you have recently won an award). 

So can you be too successful?  No, but watch out if you have just got to the top of the mountain, you don’t want to fall off the outside.  Sometimes getting to the top of the mountain is the easy bit, staying there is another matter*

*Watch out Man City (last football reference – promise!)

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