A comfort zone is a place that many people spend their entire lives trying to establish and inhabit. They design their comfort zones around material items, décor, foods, and people—and once a comfort zone is completed, almost no one ever wants to leave it. For small-to-medium businesses (SMBs), comfort zones can be deadly.
The 500+ members of the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs, an organization that helps business owners grow their companies at accelerated rates, are not allowed to build comfort zones. In fact, one of my daily responsibilities is to make sure our entrepreneurs never entertain the idea of building a place that allows them to rest on their laurels.
This may sound harsh, but it’s for good reason. Fast-growth entrepreneurs are among the most high-risk people in the world. If my organization allowed our members to get comfortable, they would become stale—they would lose the edge they need to succeed in business. Like a nagging middle-school teacher, I’m constantly asking them questions to make sure they stay sharp. The questions I ask prepare entrepreneurs for the headwinds they will inevitably hit as they enter uncharted waters. We prepare them to survive without getting blown off course or losing valuable assets on their journey.
One of the questions I ask is, “When is it time to pivot your business because of an obstacle in front of you vs. staying the course and simply moving past whatever is in front of you?” In most discussions, I tell them the answer can be found in three parts:
A curious, well-read entrepreneur understands that a comfort zone may protect them from headwinds in the short-term, but it will ultimately lead to the death of their company. They must always move forward, never allowing success to soften their competitive edges or take their eyes off the road ahead.