Ahh complacency, the easiest trap for any business to fall in to. Let’s say your business is up and running, you have a dedicated client base, and you’re experiencing steady, or increasing revenue. Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? It certainly looks like success. Everything’s going smoothly, money is coming in, your PIE is growing at a fairly steady rate. Sounds like a job well done. The problem is, at hitting this point the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset starts to set in. This phrase is so common that virtually everyone believes it. Why would you mess with a good thing? You should just be able to coast along doing what you’re doing, and continue to make money.
Except if you do that, chances are very good that very soon you will actually begin to lose money. Which is pretty much the exact opposite of what you’re trying to do. But how could something like this happen? You’re doing everything right. You’re making money. Your business is actually growing. All signs point to clear sailing. Unfortunately, as anyone who’s ever taken a boat across the ocean can attest, a sudden storm can pop up virtually without any warning whatsoever, and it is such a storm you potentially face.
In the situation I described above (which, despite this little trap, is still the ideal place to be), that mindset whereby you don’t want to mess around with a good thing, leads to you growing complacent. To coast. Everything’s going right, so just keep doing what you’re doing, right? Wrong. By growing complacent, by coasting, you’re actually lowering the perceived value of your product. Let’s say you hook in a whole bunch of clients at launch, say, by making use of an excellent launch deal. They bought your product, or made use of your service, because they saw value in what you were offering. But humans are a fickle breed, and over time (a period of months, maybe even years) if you keep providing the exact same steady level of service, there’s a very good chance that they’ll stop seeing that value. Think of it this way. Pick your favourite television show. Now pick a single episode. Imagine you could only watch that one episode, every day. Pretty soon you’re going to start to dislike it and wish for something else to watch. All the things you perceived about it that you enjoyed will start to look smaller and smaller, if not disappear entirely. That is what will happen to the perceived value of your product or service.
This is essentially a condition of the human mind. We get bored. We want something new. Before you say, “Well yes, but that’s a television show, we’re talking about business here,” think back over your work history and ask yourself how many jobs you’ve had where going to work and doing the same thing over and over and over again resulted in you becoming bored, resentful, and eventually seeking work elsewhere (perhaps finally making the leap into glorious self-employment)? It’s the same basic idea. By growing complacent and not doing anything to improve your product or service, by coasting along and not offering your customer base anything new, they will start to forget the value they initially saw in your product, and start looking elsewhere. The end result? You lose clients, which of course, means losing money.
So how do you avoid the trap? By not allowing yourself to grow complacent in your success. You’re doing well? Excellent. Do better. Challenge yourself to constantly improve your business. I wrote an article way back at the end of August 2012 with some ideas on where to start that you can read here, but that is by no means the end all be all of ways you can keep the idea that your product or service is valuable in your customers’ minds.
Innovate. Captivate. Keep things fresh. Don’t allow yourself to become complacent, don’t bore your customers, and your success is all but assured.