Some potential clients I meet are used to struggling and keeping their business in Existence or Survival. They never get to business Take-Off, Growth or Maturity. They don’t seem to value outside help and reject it when offered.

I cold-called two retail businesses in a nearby regional town this week offering to help. Two businesses that clearly looked like they could do with some help. One business owner had his eyes and ears open and the other closed. The open owner and I chatted about both his ‘bricks and mortar’ options as well as his internet and mobile shopping presence. Needless to say, he was open to help and I am looking forward to working with him, to get his strategy right and realise the long term gains from his commitment to challenging the status quo.

The other business owner had a narrow and incredibly short term focus and was showing clear signs of decay. The retail space was tired. The shopfront was hopelessly overdue for repainting. The previous owner’s name still visible as cracked and flaky paint.   There was a complete disregard for the digital economy. I paused and noticed the passing trade was clearly heading elsewhere.

I paused to reflect on the contrast.

In my experience, the reason why business owners succeed is because they help others and are willing to ask for and receive help. Business owners who I don’t have as clients or won’t accept help, eventually fail and seem to suffer from a sort of two-part stability bias:

  1. They prefer the status quo in the absence of enough pressure to change it. And if the ultimate pressure to change comes too late, they will have to head back to the drawing board.
  2. They overvalue immediate rewards and under value any long term gains.


These closed, comfortable and sleepy business owners remind of the ‘frog happily swimming in the slowly heating pot’. This frog feels more and more comfy about his situation and with no eye to the future, until the higher temperature means he can no longer swim or hop out!