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Are you afraid of being successful?

Let me tell you about all the companies I’ve either worked for or spent time with, that talk about what they want to achieve, usually around growth rate or turnover within x years. I don’t want to be arrogant enough to say that I can spot those that will get there and those that won’t every time, but I have become pretty good at guessing. And time has proved me right.

Tech companies cannot be neatly divided into winners and losers but there are a number of things that winners do that makes them stand out; while most companies dream big, only a handful act big, and while a very small handful of companies succeed without effort, for the rest of us, it’s a hard slog. Here is my list of characteristics that tell if a company is going to be a winner or not.


Some people can imagine themselves being successful, some can’t and there usually isn’t much anyone can do, unless they are prepared to go and see a counsellor or go on a self-awareness course. I meet people brimming with confidence who nevertheless will not be successful, you can just tell by the language they use and the actions that they don’t take.

CEOs, VCs and shareholders take note.

Money sense

If you want to get noticed, you sometimes have to spend some money on things you may not like doing, like marketing. I can understand that companies may have limited budgets, but I do not understand why their reaction to a request to spend money often means they end up spending no money.

False modesty

If you can go to market with a sales team, a LinkedIn profile and a telephone, and make your numbers, then good luck, but I can tell you about lots of companies that fail because they do nothing to make prospects aware of them in advance of direct sales. If no one can see you or find you then you are counting on a lot of luck that your prospects will interrupt their researches over many months to let you in.

Corporate blindness

It’s easy to be a legend in your own lunchtime; hanging around with lots of people who agree with you can result in you thinking you are succeeding whilst you continue to be unnoticed and unchosen by the market. Consider all those tech companies that are still travelling hopefully on their first big win, which may now be two or more years old. This is not the real world, so it makes sense to hang out with people who live there, some of whom, hopefully, will tell where you are going wrong.


It’s always later than you think and when people talk more about the future than the present, chances are they are already failing. Impatient people can be very annoying because it is easy to feel they are not listening when you are talking to them, when in reality they are busy all the time making decisions. My favourite clients are those who say, come on then, let’s try that. But I am daily dealing with people who just won’t make decision – do something. Stasis is your enemy because a competitor you are not even aware of is already eating your lunch.

So, are you afraid of being successful? It’s fine if you are; plenty of people make a reasonable living and live a good life being no more than average but think about whether the big plans that you want to share with me are achievable while you continue to hold restrictive beliefs about fundamental catalysts such as time and money.

Want to read more from Chris Field or get in touch to discuss your own marketing dilemmas? Get in touch with us on or connect with Chris on LinkedIn


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