Stay thirsty my friend

Nothing fails like success!  What?  Did I just read that right? Did Rich just say that nothing fails like success?  Yes, I did.

I’ve seen it so many times where entrepreneurs find success they start to enjoy it and then a short time later they find themselves struggling to keep their head above water.  What happened?  There are many reasons for this phenomenon so let’s set aside macroeconomics like the recession we just experienced.  Let’s instead focus on what the entrepreneur no longer does.

I like to compare business to marriage because usually an entrepreneur will spend as much time with their business as they do their spouse (sometimes more…).  When two people first get married everything is new and exciting and new rituals are oftentimes fun.  We look for ways to impress our spouse and make them feel good.  We go out to dinner, buy flowers, leave love notes and we are constantly inspecting that we are still on track.  In essence we create bunches of activity to ensure we maintain our relationship and for the most part, things go very well.

Well, when we start a business we do the same things.  We work long hours; we reward our staff with praise and occasional gifts.  We try many new marketing techniques.  We treat every client as if they were the most important client on earth and more times than not, we win.

Now, look at most married couples after 20 years of marriage.  More times than not they’ve fallen into a routine and they stop ‘working’ on their marriage.  The love notes and flowers are gone and the inspection that things are on track has disappeared. We’ve fallen into a rut.   Incidentally, a rut is nothing more than a grave with the ends knocked out.

The same thing happens in business.  We find success, we find what works and we stop trying new things. We become too busy to stop and talk with our staff and let them know we care. And, we’re lucky if we think about our clients at all after the money has hit the bank.  But the mistake of all mistakes is: we stop inspecting.  We stop looking around to see if things are being run the way we expected them to be run.

We do these things both in our marriage and in our business partially because we are no longer thirsty.  We feel comfortable and our needs are met.  We don’t hunger for much and so slowly we let our guard down.  But, before we know it, stormy seas are ahead.  In both instances we stop communicating and we start to assume all will be well.  We’re doomed, unless we do something about it.

I have a client who nets–yes, I said nets–around six figures a month.  Before we started to work together he was in that comfortable stage.  All was well with the world.  The clients appeared to be satisfied, the money was in the bank and for the most part the staff respected him.  Then we started to peel back the onion.  We started to measure everything, we started to listen to the calls and pay attention to the manner in which things were being done.  Guess what, things weren’t being done the way he expected any longer and he was furious.  He could have turned a blind eye to the problem but he too realized that nothing fails like success.  If he didn’t right the ship now, before it was too late, things were going to get really bad, really fast.  So he did.  It’s hard work, more work than he wants to do now that he’s successful, but he knows he needs to do it.  He said the key to his mindset is to stay thirsty.  Not thirsty for money but thirsty for the pursuit of perfection.

Whether it is in your marriage or in your business, the key to continued success is to stay thirsty.  Don’t let success ruin you.

Building a better business, one thirst at a time…

Building Better Business Systems For Law Firm Owners