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Path to success may be winding

August 17, 2014

I spent some time last week driving the Texas Hill Country. The winding roads through the valleys and hills offered some spectacular vistas and views of wildlife. The problem with such a drive is that while you are driving, you have to pay particular attention to the road, so you wind up only getting snippets of the beauty and can’t really appreciate it in full. Appreciating the vistas too long will put you in danger of wrecking.

During this trip, I began to realize this particular road was much like one the entrepreneur travels as he or she builds and attempts to grow a business. The road has inclines, sharp turns, down slopes, and other dangers. Fortunately, the road through the Hill Country has warning signs for dangerous curves and inclines accompanied with instruction to decrease speed.

There are signs to tell you should slow down for an “S” curve. Signs inform you that the extra lane in your direction of travel is for slower traffic and allows other travelers to pass. Other signs let you know you are about to descend a steep slope and need to exercise caution. Failure to adhere to the warnings can result in a very bad day!

The entrepreneur must also keep a vigilant eye out for warning signs. Success in business is not a destination. Every day that a business stays open is a success. Every day spent on the journey is success. The key to continuing the journey is in seeing the warning signs and adjusting.

Think of hills as cash flow. The incline can represent times where you have to spend more money to keep making progress. This could be increased marketing efforts during slow times; just keeping the doors open until you hit the season for your industry. On the downhill side, you do not have to spend as much and the going is easier — but do not be fooled. You still need to be careful that you do not get complacent and fail to see the next sign.

Those curves and “S” curves can indicate changes in the market and/or industry. No journey of any length ever involves a straight line. An entrepreneur needs to keep abreast of his/her industry and any influences on that industry, so they can safely negotiate those curves. These influences could be changes in the law, changes in product or technology, or changes in demand.

One other thing to consider is the trip plan. Long journeys generally begin with a plan. The traveler will look at the map and plan a route that is typically the shortest and/or bypasses the major hazards. The entrepreneur will do the same, except it is called a business plan. A lot of work goes into a business plan. However, a well-done business plan can help a business plan for the foreseeable hazards — and prepare them to navigate those hazards. Having, following, and maintaining currency of business plan can help the entrepreneur stay the journey. And remember, every day on the road safely navigating hazards is success.