As an amateur racecar driver I am keenly aware that sooner or later you will have an accident. It’s not a question of if, but when. Even for the most successful racecar drivers, the odds of having an accident at some point in their career are 100 percent. It’s going to happen. The only real question is, how severe will the crash be? Running a business is similar to driving a racecar. Sooner or later your business will experience rough times, where sales and revenue struggle, customers flee, and the situation seems bleak. I know from my own 30 years of experience that there are moments when the high of success is tempered by the stark realization that things are slipping away from you.
What separates the ultimate winners from the defeated is what happens after your business has begun to spin out of control and hit the wall. Long-term success means being able to withstand these bumps in the road and taking the necessary steps to get yourself back on track and up to speed. Here are six things that I believe can save your business and will help you avoid disaster when things get difficult.
1. Look in the Mirror
Success begins and ends with the business leader. So the first problem that needs to be solved may be you. Do you avoid the risk of change? Are you too proud to admit something is wrong or not working properly. Are you empowering your employees? Do you have a “play to win” attitude or are you playing not to lose?
Being a closed-minded leader who clings to a failing personal agenda is like grabbing a cement block when you are drowning. You are going to the bottom and fast! Fear or reluctance to change is the single biggest reason that businesses fail. Markets and consumer tastes are dynamic and fluid, which requires a business leader who has the mettle to encourage change — even when you are uncomfortable with it.
Too often the tipping point in a business failure comes when the business leader decides that it is now time to play NOT to lose instead of playing to win. When you play to win you are always moving forward, looking for new opportunities, willing to step outside your comfort zone and embracing risk. Playing NOT to lose means abandoning the strategy that propelled your success. You are now in protection mode and hunker down in a defensive posture. Games are won by outscoring the opponent and you just can’t save your way to greatness. You need to change your mindset and embrace an “I want to win” attitude.
2. Don’t Be a Prisoner of Hope
Being a prisoner of hope means living in a false reality where we hope that problems will solve themselves or conditions will change for the better rather than doing something ourselves to improve the situation. What transforms a business from dream to reality is execution and making something happen. That same strategy is what frees a prisoner from the bonds of hope — we do rather than wish.