Companies Are Marathons Not Sprints
I was at a conference recently and one of the speakers was sharing the story of how he built his firm - an organization he grew over a number of years, one that he ultimately sold for over a Billion dollars.
He spoke of the struggles of his entrepreneurial journey. About how difficult it was starting from scratch and building the company to any level of scale. About how, once he'd achieved any level of scale, numerous twists and turns still shook the firm as they worked towards their goals. About how, time and again, he would wonder if he would ever make it out of the proverbial woods.
Throughout, though, one mantra played over and over in his mind:
"Companies are marathons not sprints."
I think if you've started or participated in any sort of enterprise, fledgling or otherwise, you'll recognize the truth in that statement.
Too often, there's a perception that if you set your strategy right, the path to success should be free and clear. That if you've got a solid product that's well priced, the world will beat a path to your door.
Reality, of course, isn't that simple. Obstacles, difficulties and hiccups will abound.
Clients will change management and for no good reason, pull the plug on your contract. Banks will decide to play games with your line of credit. Macro-Economic events will play havoc with your markets and consumer buying power the week before your new product launch.
It sucks. It's inconvenient. But that's life. Shit happens.
The thing to remember is that there are ways around almost all types of obstacles. A problem can certainly set your business back but it also provides an opportunity to address the issue that caused it in the first place (and, ideally, put a solution in place that ensures something like that never happens again).
In all this, it's critical to remember the underlying vision, the goal, the truth you're working towards.
Why did you start down this path? What problem were you trying to solve? Whose lives were you trying to change through what you offered? The answer to those questions is your truth.
And if you don't have a truth, that's a problem.
We make light of Vision and Mission statements, but there's a reason that concept exists. It represents your guiding light. When you hit your bumps, your obstacles, you remember your vision, your path, your truth.
If it's strong enough, it moves you, and keeps you going through the problems, the obstacles, the issues.
It keeps you focused on the marathon.