Don't Ever Play for Safety in Business; It's The Most Dangerous Thing in the World


How come for most people in business, the past few years have been ultra tough, yet for others they have found only opportunities?

Sadly when we are in business we are usually so busy trying to keep our head above water financially, that we rarely take time to think about or implement new ideas. We do what we have always done because that’s what you do. In tough times you just have to do what you do, longer, harder, with less people and with more stress. Don’t you?

Actually no – business doesn’t have to be like that at all.

In my experience there are 5 ‘types’ of business people:

  • The trail blazers (think Walt Disney, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs). Then there are …
  • The early adopters – people who think ‘yes, I’ll give that a go’. The next group are what I call ….
  • Wait-and-see people. They are not totally risk averse, but prefer to let others smooth out the edges of a new way of doing things before they will give it a go. Then we have the …….
  • I-don’t-think-so people. These people might listen to a new idea but will dismiss it fairly quickly preferring to work longer, harder and under more stress than risk trying something new. After all – what if it didn’t work? And finally we have the …..
  • Don’t-even-think-about-it types. These people won’t even listen to a new idea. It simply isn’t going to happen so don’t waste their time or your breath.

I bet that, as you were reading the 5 types you were seeing customers or possibly even staff? The big question is – where are you? If you are in the last 2 categories, the bad news is, you may not be in business for much longer. At the very least try to become a wait-and-see person.

The 5 categories don’t just relate to small businesses or sole traders, there are some pretty big businesses who have fallen into the same trap. Think Kodak; think Nokia. Who would ever have thought that Kodak would go out of business? And who amongst us hasn’t owned a Nokia? The problem is – both those businesses became complacent; did things the way they’d always done them and found out too late, that they could no longer compete. Younger, smarter, more tech savvy companies were wiping out their market share.

So what to do if you don’t want your business to become a Kodak or a Nokia?

  1. Take time out of your business at least once a month. Go play golf or just treat yourself to a walk along the beach. Watch ideas start pouring into your mind. Trust me – if you can just shut down your ‘operational’ brain for a while and stop worrying about the trivia of your business, you will come up with ideas that will take your business to a whole new level. Course ‘having’ an idea and ‘implementing’ it are two different techniques. Not much point having great ideas if you then dismiss them – what’s the worst that could happen – you might find it didn’t quite work as you’d thought – but something good WILL come out of at least trying I promise you.
  2. If you have staff, encourage them to bring forward ideas (not just the suggestion box please – think a bit more creatively than that). Reward people for ideas!!! A couple of movie tickets will cost you next to nothing compared to an idea that could save time or improve productivity.
  3. Ask all your staff ‘what are the systems that slow you down’? And be willing to listen
  4. Ask your customers ‘What can we do to improve our service to you?’

Don’t ever be afraid to hold a mirror up to your business. In fact if you want to stay in business a mirror is your very best tool.

Ann Andrews CSP

[email protected]

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Ann Andrews CSP specialises in working with high performing teams and showing managers how to deal with poor performance.

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