Depending on the type or size of your business, the meaning of the word ‘fast’ can vary greatly.
For a start up or entrepreneur, especially one in the digital/mobile environment, fast could mean accomplishing something in a matter of days, hours or minutes. On the other hand, to a large corporation, fast could mean successfully tackling an issue or developing a new product in weeks, months or even years.
Big business and small businesses have different priorities and different approaches, but could they also learn from each other?
A good analogy can be drawn from Aesop’s fable about The Tortoise and the Hare. While the Tortoise seems to take forever to get to the finish line, the fast and furious Hare burns through the track only to run out of gas at the end.
Now, the outcome of race suggests that the ‘slow and steady’ approach of the Tortoise was more effective. That may have been true in the fable, but I think there is something to be learned from the Hare as well.
After all, what if the conditions on the race course had radically changed while Mr. Tortoise was out there taking his own sweet time? What if night fell? It starts to rain or a predator happens to stumble out of the woods looking for a snack?
It seems to me that just as there is risk associated with sometimes moving too quickly, there can be just as much risk with not moving quickly enough.
On the racetrack as well as in business, creating just the right combination of speed and caution can make all the difference in the world.
Start ups – Hold on. Hare we go!
The speed at which start ups approach innovation can be blinding. Aiming to constantly disrupt existing markets, at their core, entrepreneurs are innovators trying to solve a problem in a new way – to build something better, faster or more efficiently.
The key to their success often depends on how quickly their product or service catches on with consumers. Start ups devote seemingly unlimited time and energy to getting their project off the ground. Yet, many stumble after that initial wave of success begins to recede.
Worse, many entrepreneurs simply burnout and run out of energy, money (or both) before they even see the finish line.
Big Business – Moving at Turtle Time.
On the other hand, large corporations can be risk-averse and tend to be much slower to innovate and adapt to changing conditions. Established companies focus on maintaining their operations over the long term by not deviating from the products, services and processes that brought them success in the first place.
This slow and steady approach may work for a while, but it won’t last forever. Eventually, all markets shift as its customers’ needs change and new competitors enter.
Yes, slow and steady may still win the race…but only if the finish line hasn’t already moved offshore (or online).
New thinking comes from exploring new places.
Many business professionals become stagnant because they have grown too comfortable travelling in their own orbit for too long. What can truly be learned by meeting with the same group of colleagues and attending the same events year after year?
Today’s new business environment requires new solutions. And more often than not, these solutions are being developed somewhere other than your specific industry.
Inspiration is where you find it.
There’s no getting around it. Large or small, operating a business is very hard work.
Small business owners (SBOs) and entrepreneurs are always trying to keep their existing customers happy, encourage loyalty, while also trying to attract new customers as well.
They all want to learn how to do more with less, work smarter, operate more efficiently and ultimately become more profitable.
Not surprisingly, these are the same type of things that most corporate managers want to accomplish in their departments and divisions too.
In the business world, the people who are most likely to succeed are those who not only adapt to changing market conditions, but are also able to identify and apply new concepts and best practices from other industries as well.
Don’t judge. Just pay attention.
The challenge then is to be ready and willing to get outside your comfort zone.
Tired of the same old Tortoise Talk? Go find where all the cool Hares hang out. Need a break from constantly hopping from one project to the next? Learn to focus from a veteran Tantric Tortoise. Adapt to a child’s mind and see things from a completely neutral position. As Apple once famously said “Think Different“.
You may be surprised to learn that the challenges facing you and your business are the same ones that companies of all shapes and sizes are struggling with too…and walk away with a brand new approach to solving them.
Where have you found inspiration for change in your business? Email me or share your thoughts with others below.