Driving the Business

A new business is often like a car getting on an interstate highway.  How?  Well a car enters the interstate at one of many pre-designated points – interchanges.  Each interchange has entrances and exits where the driver must decide which direction to go.  There are four choices – two that head you immediately in the wrong direction into oncoming traffic, two others where you must merge with traffic heading the same direction the driver has chosen to go.  Not everyone heading in the same direction is going to the same destination or going the same speed.  The drivers have different levels of experience, some may be traveling alone, others have a vehicle full of passengers.  Still others are carrying cargo.  Each vehicle has varying levels of resources and differences in equipment and options.

Getting up to Speed

New businesses or those entering new markets are like those cars getting on the interstate.  They have differing resources, passengers, equipment, cargo, and destinations.  Some vehicles are driven by experienced, capable people (business leaders and managers), others are on learner permits and are behind the wheel for the first-time or have just gotten the license to drive.  Whether the organizational vehicle is driven by experience, a new driver, or someone who needs an experienced advisor in the front seat with him/her, has a major impact on how successfully the organization will be able to navigate the road ahead and how fast it will be traveling.

Ability to Maintain Control

With experience comes an ability to monitor, assess and adapt to changing conditions, respond to other drivers, and keep all aspects of driving under control.  An experienced business driver cannot only maintain the vehicle’s chosen route, but avoid traffic hazards and adjust to actions and inactions of other drivers, adjust the rate of speed to accommodate opportunity (changing lanes and passing other slow moving vehicles), and know when to exit to refuel or pick up passengers.  Experience also enables the driver to select the best path to reach the destination.

Highways or By-ways?

While the shortest route between two points may be a straight line, rarely is the route you take truly straight.  There are many options for how you travel, and most are dictated by the amount of resources – time, money, people – you have available.  A business with a full tank of gas and money to stop any time to refuel may choose to go at the maximum speed.  Others with limits on one or all resources will most likely have to choose to go slower to conserve the resources available and use them to maximum impact.

Whether you are taking the highways or the by-ways is a decision some drivers make in advance – they have the route mapped out, milestones and refueling points marked in advance.  They want to have a plan and work to execute the plan, making changes as new information comes in, but still keeping the destination in mind.  Other drivers have a general destination in mind and no plan for how to get there. They get in the car and drive, “trusting” that they will be able to make the right turns, find funds to refuel, and meet somebody along the route who will be able to provide directions and anything else needed.

What Type of Driver Are You?

As you travel down the road you have chosen, what type of driver are you right now?  Are you experienced at driving, navigating, maintaining the vehicle?  Are you able to respond rapidly when the conditions demand – can you swerve to avoid a hazard and get back on track – without hitting another vehicle or the guard rail?  Or do you slam on the brakes and hope you stop in time and can avoid a collision?  Do you tailgate or allow enough space to take action?  Do you slow down during heavy storms or pull over and wait for them to pass?  Do you maintain an appropriate rate of speed which matches the environmental conditions?  When traffic jams occur, do you drive on the side of the road to pass others or do you obey traffic laws?

How Fast Should You Go?

Part of driving is knowing how fast you can go and still maintain control of the vehicle.  The rate of speed you choose depends upon many factors:

  • What type of road are you on?
  • How heavily is it traveled?
  • What is the posted rate of speed?
  • How far are you going?
  • How much fuel do you have?
  • How well maintained is your vehicle?
  • Who is along for the ride?
  • What type of load are you carrying?
  • How long have you been driving – are you alert and aware?
  • What will happen if you are late or early?
  • Who is in front of you on the road?
  • Who is in the rearview mirror – tailgating competition?

It isn’t enough to understand your own abilities.  You must understand the road conditions, what other drivers are doing, how close another vehicle is to you, and a multitude of other “outside” concerns.  If you are on a deserted highway with ideal weather conditions and a full tank of gas, then you and your vehicle may be all that you have to think about.  Few drivers have the opportunity for a wide-open road with nothing to think about but getting to their destination – whenever and however.  But you do have the option to enjoy the ride and the journey, no matter what it holds.

The Journey – As Important and the Destination

Arguably there is only one journey with a finite destination (life to death), and there are many interpretations and opinions on that, too.  So as you choose your first of many destinations, keep in mind that the journey determines where you end up.  It is not enough to choose a destination.  You have to find a way to get there.  You have to have the ability to preserve, overcome, and adjust to changing circumstances.  You might even find that true opportunity lies somewhere along the road you chose.

Copyright © 2007 F.O.CU.S. Resource, Inc.

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