The Cost of Doing Nothing

As business owners, we too often take more time than necessary to act.  We do this for a variety of reasons: Fear, Uncertainty, Bad Past Experiences and other equally bad reasons not to act.  I am all for making data-based decisions, but at some point we have all the data we are going to have and it is time to make your move.  John Maxwell wrote a great book on the topic of failure called Failing Forward, which I highly recommend.  I have developed an addendum to his title that has served my clients and me well over the years – Fail Fast.

Since it is pretty much a given that we will make mistakes as we grow our businesses, the best thing to do is to get the mistakes over with as fast as you can.  The longer we take, the longer it will be until we achieve success.  Remember, most Success is just the other side of Failure.  Don’t forget this – when we avoid taking on problems, they often come back bigger and bring their friends. 

☛ Opportunity Cost

The technical term for the “cost of doing nothing” is the Opportunity Cost.  An easy example of opportunity cost is when you, the owner, who are worth $500/hour, spend two hours ($1000) doing $20/hour work ($40), which leaves an opportunity cost of $1000-$40, or $960.

So, in addition to the mathematical formula which highlights the literal dollar cost to your business, here are 3 additional, often overlooked costs of doing nothing.

☛ Team Cost

The cost to your team, which in the current environment can be devastating, as losing good employees is particularly damaging with unemployment so low.  Your team is watching you; they see the lack of decisiveness, second guessing, and self-doubts.  What message are you sending them with your inability to act?  Why would top talent stay when their leadership behaves this way?

☛ Customer Cost

The cost to your customers, who don’t get your best while you stay frozen in time, not improving for them.  They also suffer when you lose your team (either literally or figuratively) and get less than the best from your team due to lack of resources or lack of motivation.  This then becomes a cost to your business when they don’t buy again or renew their contract the next year.

☛ Personal Cost

The last and perhaps most important cost is to you personally.  Think of the stress you put yourself through when you are indecisive, when you are afraid of failing (you will sometimes, it’s okay), when you “punt” a decision down the road.  What about your friends and family? What do they feel or experience when you do nothing to change/improve circumstances?  You can either face the fear, which then lets you work through it, or you can let it freeze you in place which results in all aspects of your business and life suffering. 

If you are having a hard time unfreezing yourself, contact me and we can schedule a “quick thaw” call to help you get moving again.

Author: Mark McNulty, Business Coach in Louisville, KY

The Cost of Doing Nothing