Complacency Kills – How No Business Is Better Than Business As Usual

The moment you “make it” in business is one of the most rewarding moments of the whole experience. You’ve got to the top, you’ve met your goals, and you’ve proven that your idea had the weight you believed it did. But it tends to be followed by a certain slack. You unbuckle the belt, take your foot off the pedal, and exhale. You can become complacent, which is rarely a good thing for the business. Here’s how complacency can be a killer and what you do about it.

Going rudderless

Business as usual. The status quo. It sounds like a period of peace, but in reality, it’s more like floating on the surface of the sea without a sail, rudder, or an oar. When you don’t have objectives and standards to set for the team, their work starts to suffer. There’s no impetus for them to be productive, nor is there any motivation that they can hold onto. It can eventually start sapping the life out of the team. Even when you’re not certain what your next long-term goal should be, look at how you can improve the business internally. There’s always a more efficient way to handle a process, always a better method that could increase your ROI.

Get ready to say goodbye

It’s not only that you can expect the work to suffer. You can expect the very makeup of the team to start breaking down as well. As we mentioned, people will lose motivation which does not bode well for how happy they are in their workplace. If you can’t keep people engaged in their work, then they will start to leave you. You will lose the most talented members of the team first. After all, these people are on the upswing of their career. If they see that a stagnating business is holding them back, then they will jump ship. If you don’t want to lose them, use them. Ask if they have any ideas on where to next take the business if you can’t figure it out yourself.

Losing touch with your market

Even worse than losing touch with your team is losing touch with your customers. You might have a model and a message that works for you right now, but will that always be the case? Unless you’re always conducting research on the market and learning about your customers, you’re going to find their tastes and needs changing while your business stays the same. That complacency leads to the idea that you know your customers better than you think you do. Your services, your marketing message, your approach to them will grow outdated and flat-out wrong. Which means you can lose the bond you’ve grown so far.

Being happy with unhappy customers

When businesses reach their targets in terms of customers gained and retained, they tend to think that everything is peachy as far as they’re concerned. However, not all of your customers, even your repeat customers, are necessarily happy. That means you’re always at risk of losing them. How do you stop that? Simply ask them. Methods like NPS email surveys can help you identify who truly are your loyal customers amongst the rest while also understanding what exactly it is that makes them loyal in the first place. The good news is that it’s often a lot easier and cheaper to retain customers than to win new ones, too. You just have to take the time to really ask whether your customer base is actually happy.

Getting overtaken

If nothing else is giving you the urge to pull your socks up, then a bit of healthy competition might be just what you need. When you first entered the market and made it to the top, you undoubtedly did so by understanding what competition you had and what you could do better than them or different than them. If you’re complacent now, however, you’re not going to have that advantage for very long. Any smart business owners are going to look at you the same way you looked at them. If you don’t keep up with competitor research, you’re going to find that they’re clawing their way back over you.

Going out with a fizzle

Beyond researching your competitors, you should look at new ways to evolve the business so that you always maintain a healthy lead. As mentioned above, you are never truly finished improving the business. Similarly, you are rarely if ever without the ability to reach new markets and to innovate the way you do things. Always look for new ways to grow the business. Otherwise, you’re going to lose customers and simply fade from relevance. Your business will sooner or later be forgotten. Don’t fail to capitalize on the momentum you’ve used to get you this far.


Love it or leave it

Complacency isn’t always the root of a problem. You might very well be happy with the progress you’ve made and simply decide to take a rest for too long. However, one of the roots of the problem might be that you just don’t have it in you anymore. Getting into a business you’re able to be passionate about five years, ten years, and twenty years later is something you want to figure out before you start it. But you can’t always do that. If you don’t love your business anymore, you have a decision to make. You can attempt to get more involved in the industry, network and find people to revitalize your interest. You can stay in the mire and watch your business and your career sink deeper. Or you can leave the business in the hands of another steward or owner.

You have to always stay engaged, always stay active, and always look at what comes next. Otherwise, no-one will benefit. You’ll stop loving the business, your customers will stop supporting you, even your employees will stop working for you. Pull yourself out of that rut or see it consume all the hard work you’ve done so far.

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About Dequiana Jackson

Dequiana Jackson, CEO of Inspired Marketing, Inc., is a small business marketing coach who shows women entrepreneurs how to use solid marketing strategies to turn their life’s passion into a profitable, service-based business. Dequiana is the author of Know Your Business: How to Attract Ideal Clients & Sell More and runs the award-winning blog,

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