For the past few years, our online wedding linens store has been a cash machine. The store website hasn’t required much work at all and sales have been more or less on autopilot.
Each and everyday, orders come in, orders get packed and money is deposited into our bank account.
In effect, our entire business has been pretty much on cruise control which is why for the past several months we’ve been neglecting many important tasks and just letting our business coast.
But just the other day, my neurotic side kicked in and I started feeling a sudden wave of fear like I was being chased. Is it really safe to assume that our online store will always continue to grow?
Has the competitive landscape changed at all? Can we really depend and sustain this level of income in the long term while just coasting along?
Everything is fragile. For example, if a major retailer started carrying our products all of a sudden, it would probably take a huge chunk out of our sales.
More and more competitors could pop up and steal business away from us. Wedding trends could change and make our products undesirable. Many bad things could happen.
Why Am I Thinking About This Now?
With another child on the way in a few months, my wife and I are currently shopping for a new house. Now a funny thing always happens to us whenever we go home shopping.
Our real estate agent always starts out by showing us a bunch of houses within our set range. But every now and then, she’ll also show us a house that is just above what we think we can afford.
Naturally, the house that is slightly outside of our range always appears far more desirable so we start second guessing ourselves and wondering if we can stretch a bit and afford the larger, better home.
This happened to my wife and I just the other day. Our agent showed us a house that was 75k more expensive than our comfort zone.
Of course, we both loved the place so we started doing some back of the envelope calculations to determine whether we could swing it based on our current income.
And then we fell into the trap. We started assuming that I would always have my job. We started assuming that our online store would continue to grow at an extremely accelerated pace even though we’ve just been coasting.
We started making assumptions that if false, might severely affect our finances.
Can We Maintain The Status Quo?
The reality is that when things are going well, we have a tendency to relax and slack off. We start getting used to our current lifestyle and we depend on it. We become demotivated and complacent. After all, if we are getting by with things the way they are, then why change?
But guess what? Unless you make an active effort to keep things interesting and challenge yourself, your life will slowly degrade over time. You can’t just do the bare minimum to get by and hope things will stay the same. You can’t just slack off and not pay the price.
When I sat down and did a competitive analysis of our business for the first time in months, I discovered that 3 new competitors had entered our space!
All of this time that we were just sitting back and collecting money, new entrants into the wedding market have been busy trying to claw their way into our market and steal our customers!
I have no doubt that if we stay stagnant much longer that we will eventually be overtaken by our competition.
Are You Just Getting By?
It is human nature to take the path of least resistance. Whenever I’m faced with a big decision, my first instinct is to think to myself, “I’m getting by fine right now so why not just stay put?”
In the back of my mind, I’m always hoping that things will either stay the same or change for the better if I just wait it out. But time and time again, I’ve discovered that things don’t just get better by themselves.
You can’t just depend on luck to miraculously come your way. Time is your enemy!
The same holds true if you are sticking with that boring day job just to pay the bills. Are you just getting by? Are you living paycheck to paycheck?
Are you lukewarm about your day job? Sure, you might be fine slogging yourself to work each and everyday for now, but eventually little things will start to bother you.
Small annoyances that used to be tolerable will gradually drive you crazy. You’ll become unhappy. You’ll become dissatisfied. You’ll become depressed but you’ll feel trapped because you didn’t plan ahead.
The sooner that you come to the realization that it’s impossible to maintain the status quo in the long term, the sooner you can anticipate the problems ahead and address them.
The Idle Plan Trap
I’ll be the first one to admit that I often make plans that I only half heartedly plan on fulfilling. There are many business related tasks that I should be doing but because things have been going so well, I’ve been putting them off. But that must now change.
Shopping for a home has given me the kick in the ass that I’ve needed to reevaluate our long term income generation plans.
We are soon going to be committing ourselves to a good sized mortgage which also means that we also have to commit ourselves to maintaining and generating new income streams as well.
All good things will eventually come to an end. Our online store could stop generating income if we don’t adapt to the market. Business could deteriorate very quickly with my current employer and I could lose my day job.
There is no such thing as coasting by even if you want to stay in your present position. In short, cruise control simply does not work!
Anticipate change or risk getting blindsided when things turn for the worse. Those people who took out home equity lines of credit to fund their lavish lifestyles paid the price when the housing market collapsed.
Don’t depend on what you have today because you could lose everything at a moments notice. Diversify yourself and pursue your passions while you still can.
Yes, it takes energy to change. It takes energy to start a new business. It takes energy to maintain your current position. If you don’t expend any energy at all, things will only get worse.
Now is the time to discover what motivates you. Find something that you want to pursue and stop coasting!
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