Dec 172011
 
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Stagnation is the most dangerous challenge you face

Stagnation Is The Most Dangerous Challenge You Face

I’ve worked with entrepreneurs and been an entrepreneur almost my entire career.  Although it can be a tough road at times, I would not trade it for anything.

As an entrepreneur and advisor, I am often confronted with concern about failing.  Over the years, I have learned that the only true failure is stagnation.  If you stagnate, inevitably you will get run over or passed by.  It’s an unwritten rule of the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

So if stagnation is the enemy, what can you do about it?

First, make sure you remain aware of the progress you are making, both in your business and in your personal development.  Always be learning and looking for opportunities to improve.

Second, come up with a new definition of failure.  Understand that when you are “pushing the envelope,” everything will not always go exactly as planned.  Look at every failure as an opportunity to learn, take what you can from it and move on.  Don’t dwell on it.  Most every successful entrepreneur I know will tell you that they’ve learned more from their “failures” than they have from their successes.

Third, test relentlessly.  The further you go in your entrepreneurial career, the more you realize that “business planning in a vacuum” is a bad idea.  You need to go to your target market, current customers and prospective customers included, and talk to them.  Test ideas with them.  Take some incremental risks with smaller scale releases of potential product and service offerings.  Test constantly and you will quickly realize that the data obtained from such testing is invaluable.

Fourth, if you feel you are stagnating, push yourself to be at least a bit adventurous and try a few things you thought you never would.  Moving outside your comfort zone has many tremendous collateral benefits, including giving you confidence and often causing you to realize that the world beyond your “cocoon” has a lot to offer.  This applies equally to your personal and business lives; keeping it fresh, as the saying goes, tends to benefit all aspects of your life, in ways you haven’t imagined.

Fifth and finally, realize that stagnation often brings with it a host of negative effects that can be very destructive.  Just like standing water, which any survival expert will tell you is almost never safe to drink, a stagnated mind, or business, or anything, really needs to find a way to flow again.  Without a consistent flow of ideas and fresh energy, a “system” tends to become polluted and toxic.  One metaphor I like to use for this is “don’t drink your own bath water”.  Get out there and look for fresh ideas and embrace change, rather than fearing it.

I look forward to your thoughts and questions.  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

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  • Stephan Hilson

    Stagnation is really challenging in any type of career. It is a good thing that I found a way to progress my career. Test relentlessly is very applicable for me. It is because I would never learn about freelancing if I am afraid of making changes on my career. Thanks for the insights about stagnation.

  • These are great suggestions. Stagnation is rooted in fear, which is itself a paralytic. Having a plan and breaking it down into action steps is key.

  • heidimoorez

    Stagnation is a big challenge anyone may experience for everything that they do. Maybe, you will need to unwind and relax if you feel like being stagnant and find ways how to move forward.

  • Harry

    Great advice on goal setting.

    You may also want to check out and download a free ebook on goal setting called “Goals! How to Get Everything You Want – Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible” at http://www.goalsontrack.com/index/goals_ebook

  • Marian

    This is really interesting reading, I am starting my own business and I do often find myself sat doing nothing as I fear that if I do something it might not work. I need to take more action!

  • Alaina

    Sales takes time to perfect, and it takes perfect practice to get it down. However, if you want to improve, it sounds like you need help overcoming objections. It’s natural to be resistant when talking to a salesperson – go into a department store some time and watch as the salesperson hears ‘just looking’ over and over again – even when the salesperson asks something like “How are you today?” Many people, when faced with a buying decision, face a lot of anxiety – what if it’s not good enough, what if it doesn’t do what I want, etc. and will automatically say “No” for a number of reasons.

  • Pam

    It’s natural to be resistant when talking to a salesperson – go into a department store some time and watch as the salesperson hears ‘just looking’ over and over again – even when the salesperson asks something like “How are you today?” Many people, when faced with a buying decision, face a lot of anxiety – what if it’s not good enough, what if it doesn’t do what I want, etc. and will automatically say “No” for a number of reasons.

  • Tracey Padilla

    Good post! I used to work for someone who was afraid of change. After two years of nudging, he finally agreed to implement some minor changes (total cost under $1K). The transformation was incredible! The company has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars, sales increased and it runs much more efficiently. What a difference!

    Thanks for the info. I look forward to reading more.

  • sandy7

    Great post and so true, its just when those setback cost you so much money that it leaves you in a mess that you can almost feel happy stagnated1 I had a good 10 years but managed to destroy it with a couple of years wrecklessness, it hurt a lot but if I can get back close to where I was it will feel great, all the really successful people seem to make it lose it and then make it massive!