Is Success Making You Lazy?

When you’re starting out in business, you are hugely motivated. Everything matters. Every document is double-checked, every social media post is painstakingly planned. You ask for feedback, quiz your friends and agonise over proposals and approaches to make sure they’re exactly right.

Upon reaching a certain level, progress comes a little easier. However, without a conscious effort, success will make you lazy.

When it comes to promoting themselves, established brands have it relatively easy. They’ve amassed a large, loyal customer-base through years of effort and brand-building work that snowballed. Some only have to soft launch a new product to sell out of stock. Their campaigns can’t fail and everything they touch turns to gold. Shareholders are happy. Executives are rich and doors are opened.

Upon reaching this level, it might be easy to coast. To spend less energy on writing great headlines, proofreading your emails, carefully crafting your approaches and honing your message. Who cares, right? Your subscribers will open those emails. They’ll probably buy, and if they don’t then someone else will.

Success creates success

I’ve seen, first-hand, how success in the world of marketing proliferates. My social media agency mainly represents small and medium-sized businesses. The team carefully designs and plans campaigns that will get our clients seen and remembered. However, when applying the same techniques to more established brands the results are dramatically enhanced. It would be easy to rest on these laurels when representing a big brand day-in-day-out.

But success can also render the most resourceful of people and companies lazy, causing them to regress. It’s a trap many have fallen into. Did you know that an intern first bought the idea of a Netflix-like movie streaming service to the Blockbuster chiefs? They didn’t listen; they just laughed. In 2000, Netflix itself approached Blockbuster with an offer to sell for $50 million. The CEO wasn’t interested in the offer because Netflix was a “small, niche business” and at the time was losing money. Now it’s a $6.44 billion revenue company. And Blockbuster is, well…

Polaroid, Toys “R” Us, Tower Records, and Kodak are more big names that reached success and then got lazy. They missed the writing on the wall and acted too established in a fast-changing world. They were blindsided by smaller players who overtook them. More will follow.

Don’t let it happen to you

Imagine how much further your brand might go if you put in just as much effort as you did at the start. If you conditioned yourself and your team to operate in startup mode so you seized every opportunity for growth and you worked on all of your weaknesses, however insignificant.

Tech giants including Facebook hire teams of ethical hackers to find flaws in their system. They want to expose their own imperfections before anyone else. Every product on sports brand SBD Apparel’s production line goes through twelve meticulous checks, to ensure they don’t miss a thread. BMW’s head of iX recently said, “We are trying to behave like a startup. We have small teams, we fail fast, learn and pivot as quickly as we can.”

In the book, The Bezos Letters: 14 Principles to Grow Your Business Like Amazon, comprising lessons from copies of Jeff Bezos’ letters to his shareholders, the last principle is to “make every day, day one”. It’s solid advice. Run every day like you’re just starting out. Operate with the same enthusiasm and attention to keep your brand fresh and growing.

Set yourself high standards and keep reaching them. If you’re now consistently hitting the sales and exposure numbers that you once only dreamed of, up your game to make the growth exponential.

Take the notes, apply the feedback, scrutinize the reviews, talk to customers and keep your eyes and ears on the future. Pre-empt every market change and prepare yourself for every economic shock. Take calculated risks and keep taking them. Be known for what you did do rather than what you didn’t do. Always be improving your offering and looking for ways to surprise and delight your customers.

Times change, technology advances and that cash cow might not remain a cash cow without consistent and concerted efforts in the right direction. Momentum can take you so far, but manual pushes never go amiss. Don’t let success make you lazy.


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