During a family trip up to the mountains to ski recently, somewhere between some quick, action-packed downhill maneuvering and a gentle more reflective ride up the lift, something occurred to me.
The experience of skiing has some cold, hard similarities to starting and growing a business. And like business, a big part of skiing is getting from where you are now to where you want to be.
Here are some tips from skiing to help navigate the slopes of starting or growing your business:
Get the right equipment: If you do not have the proper equipment or tools, attempting to move forward, or when skiing to move at all, can be extremely challenging. In business, the right equipment can help you run a more efficient and effective business. Be sure to check your equipment on a regular basis. Remember — safety first.
Take a lesson (or two): Instruction and assistance can mean the difference between having a very positive experience and struggling as you try to learn as you go. Seek out assistance in the form of written material, mentors, classes or other resources to teach you what you need to know to grow. Federal, state and county programs, colleges along with local libraries and the Internet all offer some sort of business education opportunities.
Know the conditions and prepare: The ski conditions in any resort are posted. Snow totals, temperature and more valuable information is readily available to help you prepare. The Internet and now apps all make finding out the conditions to ski easier than ever. While there is no “it is going to be a great day for business today” website to visit or app to download, there are ways to predict how much or how little business you may do in a day. Historical records, knowledge of your market, keeping up with current regional events and happenings as well as communicating regularly with other non-competing businesses are just a few ways to help better understand and predict business conditions. Learn and try to know as much as you can and then prepare as much as possible for likely conditions that may occur.
Ride the “lift” and reflect: The lift gets you to the place where the work really begins. Take time before undertaking the act of skiing or the work you do, whenever possible, to reflect on how and why you do what it is you do in business. This time helps you plan your route and can give you perspective. Just like the view from the lift, you see your paths from a different direction.
Downhill style, speed and success: So having the right equipment, getting a lesson or two, knowing the conditions and some reflective planning are all key elements to creating a better opportunity for you to succeed. These points are all worthy of your time and attention when either skiing or growing your business. However, the real test is in the way in which you execute and operate utilizing these elements when facing the downhill and challenges of skiing or business.
Your speed in most cases can be controlled. And just risk of injury or disaster in increased by uncontrolled action, a steady and measured speed of business allows, in most cases, for a sustainable and maintainable level of growth.
Style in skiing is how you look to an observer or even the way you feel when everything is working together. We all know stylish people in both life and business. What is it that makes them so stylish? More often than not it is directly related to confidence. If you are good at what you do, you can and will be more confident. Staying in control and remaining in style are just two of many ways to be more successful in business.
So the next time you are ready to navigate the slopes of business, these keys to skiing success may apply to you and your business as well. What do you say to one more run? Remember to keep those (business) tips up and I will see you in the lodge!
Joe Molineaux, director of the Small Business Development Center at Richard Stockton College, can be reached at MxBusinessBeats@gmail.com