ITR Economics Representative
Complacency has long been the enemy of success in business. It causes the best of us to lose focus, stop listening and learning, develop a false sense of entitlement, and, worst of all, ignore the customer. This danger can be particularly acute during periods of economic rise such as the one we’re in right now. To stay ahead of the game, companies must challenge themselves to be self-critical, welcome fresh ideas, fight against routine, look for areas of vulnerability, and never underestimate the competition. Keep in mind that in times of success, the real opposition often lies within ourselves.
Andy Grove, legendary co-founder and former CEO of Intel, once said, “Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.”
This concept is particularly important in light of where the US economy is headed over the next 12 to 18 months. Deceleration will be the name of the game; the severity of business-cycle decline will depend on the market or industry you serve. However, there will still be opportunities to grow your business, despite the macroeconomic slowdown around you.
A key ingredient of entrepreneurship is a vision of how to serve your customers better than others can.
Israel Kirzner, notable theorist of the economics of entrepreneurship, put it best: “Entrepreneurship is not so much the introduction of new products or new techniques of production as it is the ability to see where new methods have, unknown to others, become feasible.”
To put these powerful words into context: Your performance in 2019 will reflect much more what you do this year than what the economy facilitates. Your ability to see change around you and be proactive in dealing appropriately with your customers will be what makes or breaks your year.
To prevent your business mindset from becoming too comfortable with your position in the market, you must ask questions such as “Which of my competitive advantages will resonate with customers as they become more conservative in their decision-making?” and “What do my clients truly value in doing business with my firm?"
If you can successfully identify the true answers to these questions, you’ll likely be able to outperform the market and your competitors in 2019. If you can't, then you had better prepare for this year's expected macroeconomic slowdown to affect your business in a negative way.