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Danger Words In Business: "We’re Doing Fine"

Listening to a podcast recently, I heard a business owner declare this to a consultant in an interview: “We’re doing fine.” The context was that the consultant / business coach had discussed the possibility of working with the owner to improve their business, and interestingly enough, they both decided (coach and owner) that it wasn’t necessary... because they were “doing fine”.

Alarm bells immediately went off in my head. I have built, grown, and sold a business myself and know the dangers of that sentiment. “We’re doing fine” is one of the most dangerous thoughts a business owner can have. This may seem like an odd statement because everyone wants to be “doing fine”, but the reality is that it usually means one of several dangerous scenarios.

Some of the hazardous scenarios this statement can mask are below:

  • The competition is creeping up on you, but you don’t realize it. Frequently when we business owners feel that things are “fine” and don’t feel stress from our competition, it means that we are underestimating them. Yes, it’s possible to simply be winning in the marketplace due to past efforts for a while, but without constantly striving for improvement, those gains inevitably fade. Feeling that things are “fine” can make you oblivious to the fact that you are about to get passed by a competitor.

  • Customers are starting to be disappointed or indifferent. Have you ever noticed that when a service gets improved, it’s appreciated for a while, but very quickly that newly improved offering becomes the new norm? This happens in all our businesses. What was an improvement yesterday becomes the expectation for tomorrow. Therefore, if you feel things are going “fine” and customers are happy, but you aren’t continually working to improve, it won’t be long before the customers start to become less-than-impressed. Improvement to services isn’t just a nice-to-have, it’s a necessity demanded by the marketplace.

  • You don’t know what you don’t know. “We’re doing fine” is also a sign that there will be issues soon that you simply haven’t realized yet. Generally, when an owner feels that things are going “fine” for an extended period, it’s because they are blinded or distracted from issues that are building up. It’s easy to take your eye off the ball when things are going well. I realized that the hard way years ago in my own business. Sadly, “doing fine” can lead to laziness very quickly.

These are just some of the traps that lie beneath the feeling of “doing fine” in business. Yes, in all successful businesses there are periods when things go well, and we deserve to take a moment to enjoy the fruits of our labor. In fact, it’s important to take breaks regularly from the constant push to grow or improve; however, doing so for any extended period of time has consequences. As the Proverb says, “... a little folding of the hands to rest — and poverty will come on you like a thief.” Yes, take a moment to breathe, look around and appreciate all the things that are going well, and smile… but then get back to work. You’ll be both happier and more successful in the long term if you don’t let yourself linger too long in that feeling.

I welcome your thoughts on this subject. Please contact me through our Contact page. Have a great week!

Mark Goldman


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