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How Steep Is The Climb to Business Success

If you have ever tackled the challenge of climbing a mountain (even a small one), you will understand the range of emotions you go through.  As the peak gets closer the more exhausted you get and the further away things feel.  Building a business can be like that.  You start out your entrepreneurial journey full […]

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If you have ever tackled the challenge of climbing a mountain (even a small one), you will understand the range of emotions you go through.  As the peak gets closer the more exhausted you get and the further away things feel.  Building a business can be like that.  You start out your entrepreneurial journey full of enthusiasm and hope that the view from the top will be worth the trek.  It can be tough going as you work your way through the five stages of business growth – but get to the top and it is all worth it.

Here in Melbourne, we sit at the foot of the beautiful Dandenong Ranges.  A well-known trudge for avid fitness freaks, weekend walkers and those who just want a challenge – we all head to what is called The 1000 Steps.  Having had a go at climbing The 1000 steps a few times, I can tell you, there are a lot of similarities to running a business.

How Many Steps?

There aren’t actually 1000 steps, but the challenge to this mountain climb is this –  it is a steep walk up through the car park (if you can find one free), to a trail that rises and slightly falls before rising again, like moguls.  That trail is 800 metres long and gets your heart pumping and lungs puffing!  Then you find yourself at the base of the 1000 steps (which is actually 770 now).  Those steps are brutal.  They are narrow, uneven and not spaced consistently in height or depth.  But oh the joy, the exhilaration when you reach the top.  It is a clearing with a few bench seats on which you can rest your weary body and take in the air, revel in the achievement, and basically catch your breath.

There aren’t actually 1000 steps, but the challenge to this mountain climb is this –  it is a steep walk up through the car park (if you can find one free), to a trail that rises and slightly falls before rising again, like moguls.  That trail is 800 metres long and gets your heart pumping and lungs puffing!  Then you find yourself at the base of the 1000 steps (which is actually 770 now).  Those steps are brutal.  They are narrow, uneven and not spaced consistently in height or depth.  But oh the joy, the exhilaration when you reach the top.  It is a clearing with a few bench seats on which you can rest your weary body and take in the air, revel in the achievement, and basically catch your breath.

What have those steps taught me about business?  Quite a bit actually.

1. Preparation is key.

You need water, good shoes, comfortable clothes and a positive can-do attitude.  In business, you need structure, a plan and a can-do attitude.

2. One step at a time.  

This may seem obvious – but people do try it two at a time up there on the mountain.  The truth is that just like in business, it is better to be careful and take all the steps as they were meant to be taken.  Skipping steps can lead to fatigue and a fall.  If you skip steps in business it can lead to crucial elements of mandated safety, legal requirements, and customer service elements being excluded from your processes.

3. Focus on your why.  

A wise woman once said, “Every moment wasted looking back, keeps us from moving forward.”  – Hilary Clinton.

Although you cannot see the top until you are almost there, the path is narrow and it is important to look up at where you are going and who is coming towards you.  In business a forward focus is vital.  Constantly assessing what is ahead of you in business enables planning and risk mitigation.  Ultimately the reason why you started your business will be what keeps you going when the path is steepest.

4. The top isn’t the top.  

If you get to the top of The 1000 steps it is only to realise that it isn’t the top of that mountain, it is the top of that trail.  There are many more trails to explore and options for how you will get back down.  Just like in business.  When you reach what you think is the summit, you will see that there is so much more you can do – isn’t that exciting!  Your business journey will see you change and adapt, from external forces you can’t control, to a more developed vision for what you want to achieve.

5. The other side of success isn’t necessarily easy.  

Once you have your business running efficiently and effectively you will come to realise that what you thought would be an easy road is not.  Complacency in business can mean a failure to control growth, a failure to recognise others that are following you, and a failure to take as much care once your business is built, as you did in building it.  

Each step becomes painful.  Your breath is gone and your muscles scream.  Every time you move you have to decide – am I going up or going down?  Business can be like that.  It is important to celebrate reaching the summit, but let’s not forget that it can be a long hard road to business success.  When you are short on sleep, your cash isn’t flowing, your marketing isn’t working and there just aren’t enough hours in the day you aren’t thinking about the success that is coming.  You think, should I keep going?  Should I keep moving forward even though I am in the midst of pain?

Are you getting the idea?

 I liken starting and running a business to the 1000 steps.  It is challenging, the path is not always easy and no two days are ever the same.  The steep ascent is akin to the learning curve you embark on.  The steps are your daily grind in an effort to reach a pinnacle you cannot see until you are upon it.

There are alternative routes to take and a realisation that the top is not really the top – you can choose to keep going in a number of directions.  Fear and exhaustion trick you into believing that back down is the way to go.  This too is treacherous,  decidedly steep and ready to take your feet out from under you at any given point.  You can gather a speed which makes control difficult and again the end is upon you before you realise it leaving you wondering if you just imagined it all.  

If you are stuck in business and unsure what to do next you aren’t alone. Perhaps you aren’t even sure if you have a hobby or a business. Sign up for Fempire’s next free training event and get the answers you are looking for.

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