The Art of the Long Haul

The Art of the Long Haul

** As seen in LIBN **

In business, be prepared for the long haul

What do business owners and long-haul truckers have in common? Knowing which road to follow, when to get off the highway, and making sure your equipment is in top shape.

Imagine an over-the-road professional driver. He does not jump up into the cab, start the engine, and just take off.  Before he or she even thinks about driving they have already plotted the best route to the destination, topped off the fuel tank, and checked the tires and other essential fluids.  A trip of a thousand or more miles needs to happen without a breakdown due to sloppy preparation.

This analogy translates handily to business executives.  If you view the growth strategy for the company as a long trip, you need preparation, planning, mapping, and setting goals if there is any hope of success; of reaching the destination.

A business cannot grow without a properly mapped out plan.  No matter the station of the company—start up, mid-life, or mature—the road ahead is everything.

And every plan, from full blown business plan to a shorter-term goal aimed at growth, should include a detailed cost analysis including a budget for marketing and advertising.

Considerations for the trip to “success:”

Fuel (gas) in the tank.You must have enough money to buy gas for the trip.  Your growth strategy will have costs.  Some may be significant.  Safety says to overstate those costs by some percentage to build a small cushion for the unforeseen.

A map (not a Hagstrom) or a GPS layout of the stops along the way.  Just like you would have to plan for overnight stays on a long journey, you will need to lay out markers for analysis of progress of your efforts. These stops are mandatory. Without them the trip will go off course and you’ll never reach your destination. Know which metric is a KPI just like knowing which truck stop has the best burgers.

Passengers. You can’t make this trip alone. The passengers you take on the journey will help ensure a smooth road ahead. Each passenger should be fully available to travel with you.  Even better if they have made such trips before. They will be co-pilots who can take over when it is their turn to get you to the next stop along the road.  You will need at least one passenger who can play the road manager maintaining forward progress.

Secure load.  One last analogy. Your vehicle (product or service) must be stocked and ready to respond at stops along the way. The last thing you want to happen is not be able to respond to increases to sales or orders.  Logistics and delivery are the make or break of your effort.

So, go ahead gas it up, check the tires and oil, fasten your seatbelt, and head down your own growth highway. Happy motoring.