WARNING … The Apathy of Success


Time after time we see good companies (or what we thought were good companies) experience major business health issues … with some unable to pull out of their death spiral. What causes these issues and how can they be prevented?

Apathy (or complacency) can be the root cause of many issues, especially in small to mid-sized businesses. Example: business is booming and everything you do seems to turn to gold. You, Mr. CEO or Mr. Business Owner, are counting your stacks of cash and enjoying all the perks of your well-earned success! But wait!  While you’ve been basking in the glow of success, your laser focus on your business, while you were growing, has all but disappeared. This is what I refer to as “going to sleep at the wheel” while your business has been on cruise control. Would you do this while driving a non-autonomous car? The answer is a resounding, “NO!” Then why do this with your business?  Aren’t the inherent risks the same?  Well, not exactly because you won’t die by falling asleep at the wheel; but your business can succumb to the damage of that unexpected crash!

Think Strategically About Your Business

Think about your business for a few minutes and ask yourself this question: “Is my business on cruise control and am I at risk of failure?”  Which of the following is your answer?

  • DENIAL: “No way is my business going to fail. I’ve worked 10, 20, 30 years building my business and we’re the leaders in our field. We’re too big to fail!”
  • GUILT: “Oh no, what have I done? Is it too late to recover?”
  • AWARENESS: “I don’t believe so, but I’m going to conduct a thorough examination of my business, from top to bottom, and identify where we can improve our processes and productivity!”

If you answered #3 then you are many steps ahead of the others. Owning a business and staying current and relevant doesn’t happen by accident. It’s the direct result of a commitment to succeed, a willingness to change and empowering your employees to be contributing and respected members of that success!

Act Now to Avoid Apathy

The old saying, “You can’t see the forest through the trees,” is very applicable to business and change. Business owners and their team can be so close to a company’s processes, its products/services, operations, marketing, etc. that they can’t see what’s wrong. While some business owners and their teams have the inherent ability to identify and correct issues as a normal operating procedure, many can’t – this is where you need to ask questions and employ different options:

  • Survey your customers to gain a better understanding of how they perceive your company, products, staff and the quality/reliability of your service.
    • Do your customers understand your Value Proposition?
    • Reflect on your company and personnel – are you easy and enjoyable to do business with?
  • Conduct internal discussions with your team – prioritize the top critical areas to change.
    • Prepare a detailed Action Plan for these changes and empower your staff to execute them.
    • Establish KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) to track the results of the change and don’t be afraid to make additional changes as needed to succeed.
    • Establish regular meetings to discuss your progress and enjoy the results.
  • Hire outside professionals who will look at your company with fresh eyes
    • Agree on a detailed scope of work and provide them with background on your company and employees.
    • Their sole purpose is to help you and your company succeed – be open to the issues they discover and embrace recommended changes.

Keep the big picture in mind as you embrace change and any pain that is sometimes part of the process. Remember the saying, “No pain, no gain?” This statement is very true in business and in life. We learn so much from our mistakes. Our trials and tribulations help form the core of who we are.

You don’t know what you don’t know. So, I encourage you to avoid apathy and discover what you don’t know about your business. No matter how successful you are, there is always room for improvement.