Have you met your ‘Lugubrious Lucy’ yet? You know; the one that is sure it is never going to work? Well you will!!

I bumped into my ‘Lugubrious Lucy’ in the shopping centre just the other day. I hadn’t seen her for months and of course we had to stop for coffee and catch up on the news.

Lucy, it appears, has not been having the best of time; things have not been going well. Actually, Lucy has quite an eye for design and a flair for combining unusual objects and fabrics to create personalised interiors– and had been (until recently apparently) running a rather successful home based interior design business.

“So,” I asked “What on earth is the problem?” It appeared that her partner wanted them to expand and take up the option of a shop in the local centre. His idea was that by bringing their business to a wider public, they would increase their customer base and their profitability.

It seemed a good idea in principle, the area is expanding and there is an influx of middle income families who would probably love Lucy’s work. I still didn’t see the problem.

‘Have you conducted a SWOT analysis?’ I enquired; feeling a little smug; after all we had just finished ours and the future looks bright and busy. Lucy looked miserable, ‘What’s the use’ she said’ It’s never going to work’. It appears that Lucy has little confidence that her business could succeed in a larger environment and is unwilling to try.

I waxed lyrical about the benefits of conducting a SWOT analysis, explaining the advantages of giving any business a yearly spot check; but Lucy was unwilling to see any benefits in moving out of her sphere of success and taking on the new challenge.

And there is a strange thing about loss of confidence. If you lose your confidence in one area of your expertise, it carries over to others. For instance Lucy, once so bright and bold in her choice of colours and fabrics has become more cautious. Being frightened of expanding, she is scared of losing what she has, and is now more subdued in her recommendations.

What had been her ‘unique area of difference’ is being eroded by her reluctance to take a risk. Unfortunately her success had been built on that very factor, and now her clients are disappointed in her work. Being scared to expand, she is losing the ability to survive.

If we are to survive in business we have to move forward; if we merely continue to do what we have always done then we will probably stagnate and eventually die. If we are successful we will attract others who will become our imitators; and sometimes imitators can become highly successful and, by taking our ideas and expanding on them can push us out of the market.

But to move forward often means that we need to take risks – it is inevitable; but after all we took an even greater risk when we first went into business for ourselves, didn’t we? Our enthusiasm and self-belief were such that we passionately believed in what we were doing and we saw it as an opportunity rather than the wild risk it probably was.

If we are to continue to prosper we need to harness that passionate self-belief again, and put it to good use. With a determination to succeed, with a comprehensive SWOT analysis and a positive plan of action we have a real opportunity to move ahead.
But if we look at the opportunities and see only the possibility of failure we will – Like Lucy – allow our lack of self-belief to dictate our future.

I am all for giving it a go!! What can be the worst case scenario if you fail? Can you live with that? If so then surely it is worth giving it a chance. Lucy’s partner was a chartered accountant and had worked out the financial risks and advantages; but Lucy could only see the difficulties and refused to take the risk.

Most successful businesses have at one time or other taken great risks to achieve spectacular success – and probably will again in the future.

What’s your view on the subject – should we be happy with minor success and choose not to risk what we have so laboriously built; or should we grasp the opportunity when it presents itself and take the risk, with the hope of gains to come?

In short, are you another ‘Lugubrious Lucy’ or a ‘Risky Ruby’?

Michele @ Trischel

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