I use these in a workshop looking at the early signs of business demise…
The rate of sales/demand acceleration has begun to decline – even though the curve still increases – the rate of increase is declining – not easy to see unless you do the calculation
Things are described as “nice”, as “very comfortable” – here there is a danger of a collusion of mediocrity
A small increase in complaints or dissatisfaction – either internally or externally
There is an increase in loyalty from existing customers, but a tiny decline in the number of NEW customers or clients
People don’t get in as early as they used to, arrive and leave on time, more often.
An increase in the level of inventory/safety stock – either materials, products, ideas not yet put into action
A feeling of “drag” – harder to get enthused, to get going, to be inspired.
One or several ideas/practices from the “early days” are still in place, and really shouldn’t be.
The organisation is stifled in terms of innovation through over-dependence on technology or one or two people/small groups
A small but perceptible rise in complaints about the product, service or the relationship. One or two important “first” customers have moved on.
Costs are eating a little more each month into profitability through a “slackness” with resources
There is a hint of “sameness” of boredom, even in an apparently exciting and changing environment. A lack of real “buzz”
The list is not exhaustive and I have deliberately used the dramatic sounding phrase “signs of death” to really focus minds on the fact that two-thirds of small businesses in the UK do not survive ten years, and over a third do not survive start-up. Seeing the symptoms of decline and demise and taking authentic, mediocrity-challenging action is a vital way to increase the chances of survival, if survival is what is truly wanted by the leaders involved!