It’s just human nature. Many business owners, once they find “the secret to success,” have the tendency to relax and enjoy the view, thinking (erroneously) that they have plenty of time before their competition can catch-up to them.

Jeremy Gutsche, chief trend hunter at trend spotting website TrendHunter.com, said that in today’s world, companies are faster at finding new ideas so business owners really don’t have as much of a cushion as they might think. Speaking at the 2017 AmeriQuest Symposium, Gutsche shared this statistic: “It used to be that the average life of a Fortune 500 company was 75 years. Now it’s 15.”

Think about that. Companies are finding new ideas, faster, and are getting better at adapting to change. So if you want to keep up, Gutsche suggests you avoid the three behavioral traps of success:

  1. Success makes us complacent.
  2. Success makes us repetitive.
  3. Success makes us protective.

So just how do you avoid these traps? According to Matt Clark, chief operating officer at Corcentric who spoke on a panel at the same event, you need to make sure innovation is ingrained in your culture. “While the culture of innovation needs to come from the top down, you also need to remember that innovation can come from other levels of the organization.”

But he was quick to point out that innovation does not mean that ideas just pop into people’s heads. “You need to have a way to surface and evaluate innovation. People need to feel safe suggesting ideas, but they also need to be okay if their ideas get trashed,” he added.

Gutsche contends that there are always patterns and clues that point you to your next idea. “All innovation happens by making connections between things that other people did not see.”

He added, “The secret to success is hard work and overlooked opportunity.” His advice is not to try to emulate your competition but rather to think about what people actually want and to take a step back in order to recognize patterns. Once you have figured out your plan of attack, act quickly to bring it to life.

Gutsche’s final advice: “Everyone wants to get better faster, but not everyone wants to put in the effort to do so. Your competition is lazier than you think.”

So in summary, here’s your checklist for continuing to keep your business relevant and profitable:

  • Work hard.
  • Foster innovation at all levels of the organization.
  • Look for clues as to what people really want.
  • Act quickly once you think your idea has merit.

No time like the present to get started!