The hardest challenge you’ll face after becoming successful is maintaining that success. When your business is just starting, you set up an initial goal: Make x amount of profit, reach x number of customers, etc. When you finally achieve that target, it’s normal to release all the tension, anxiety and stress that you carried over.
Although it's healthy to recharge, it seems that no sooner is a specific goal met than a new one appears in its place. This certainly is true in my own experience, and it's supported by evaluations of other entrepreneurs.
There's very little time to ease up on the qualities and habits that made you successful in the first place. In the demanding and tough field of entrepreneurship, it’s imperative not to become lazy or careless with your craft. Tackling each target with the same care and attention as your first is the only way to climb the ladder of success. If you can identify with one or more of these five bad habits, it might prevent you from reaching the top rung.
1. Getting comfortable and complacent.
This is the No. 1 problem among those who achieve some level of success. When money is no longer tight, you lose your sense of urgency to make more. You begin to relax. Remember, at all times you’re either growing or dying. When you decide to coast for a little while because you don't feel an immediate need to hustle, can you guess which one you're doing?
Find ways to maintain that lean and hungry mood, even if and when you have a comfortable amount in the bank. You need a system in place to prevent complacency. That could mean continuously setting increasingly larger goals and rewarding yourself for reaching them, investing large amounts of your available cash so you always have an immediate need to make more or a finding a board of directors whose members will give you a kick in the behind.
2. Not watching your spending or accounting.
When you first see your account balance exceed your expectations, it's easy to forget you still must track your spending and accounting systems closely. Costs can spin out of control before you know it, leading to financial problems for your company. No matter how well your business is doing, watch your books as if you’re just starting out. It’s important to maintain discipline with your budget even if you can afford not to at this precise moment. You'll thank yourself later.
3. Losing focus on daily management.
Simply put, the more successful you become, the more freedom you have to spend your time pursuing activities beyond the work of running your business. It's rewarding and restorative to enjoy the fruits of your labor, but keep your finger on the pulse of your business as you did in your early days. Otherwise, you could find yourself starting over with some hard lessons learned.
4. Getting distracted by additional ventures.
Once you make one business successful, it’s easy to convince yourself you can turn any business into a success. Don’t fall into this trap. Avoid letting new projects distract you from your core business. If you’re thinking about starting a second venture, make sure you have a solid management system and a team who can run your first company just as well as you can. Manage and care for each business as if it was your only one. There's nothing to brag about if you own a half-dozen companies and none makes you a profit.
5. Not performing due diligence with investments.
This one's a close -- and costly -- cousin to letting yourself be tempted by new side projects. Once you have a successful business, you might assume any investment you touch will flourish. You'd be wrong. Be warned: You'll make some of your worst investments while you ride the wave of success. Each time you invest, exercise the same (or more) due diligence you would if you were investing your last dollar.