I remember hearing an urban myth when I was young that emerged through the game Chinese whispers (i.e., commonly known as grapevine, pass the message, etc.) on the playground – concerning the subject of sharks. The rumor suggested that if a shark stops swimming, it drowns.
Though I was perhaps too young to appreciate the dark irony of a fish drowning, it was a concept that fascinated me. Movement and stillness are often the primary difference between life and death.
The idea that something so powerful could die simply from a lack of movement was somehow quite profound, enough to have impacted me through my adult years.
As it turned out, the myth carried some truth. Because sharks don’t have lungs, the majority rely on constant movement to push water through their gill filaments, where oxygen can be extracted. Without that movement, most sharks fail to respire and die as a result.
Stagnation will quickly dismantle a company from the inside out. Movement begets fiscal growth, innovation and expansion; it is the lifeblood of any small business, and the moment that movement ceases is the moment you’re in danger.
Starting a business is exactly the same. Stagnation will quickly dismantle a company from the inside out. Movement begets fiscal growth, innovation and expansion; it is the lifeblood of any small business, and the moment that movement ceases is the moment you’re in danger.
Here are a few ways to keep your company moving at a healthy pace.
Bring a Map
Who doesn’t have GPS navigation these days? Business doesn’t come with a GPS, and unfortunately – no one is going to plan out that route for you. While GPS is widely available, and hassle-free, planning your company’s trajectory is a little more complex than entering a starting point and a destination point.
It takes time and effort, but when you’re on the journey, you’ll appreciate the benefits of keeping the end in mind. It will stop you from making careless decisions at every turn. Ultimately, you’ll have to plan out the route and identify roads that, with a little boldness, could get you to your destination quicker.
Tackle Small Problems
As we all know, small problems that go unchecked steadily become bigger problems. Just think about windshield cracks; they start out almost invisible, but with enough bumps in the road, they soon become an irreparable blemish on your car.
Be on the lookout for any small business issues that could easily be overlooked. Keep in mind the damage that small errors and delays can cause collectively in the long run. If you can nip small issues in the bud, you won’t have to deal with bigger ones down the road.
One trick I learned while driving is that shifting to a higher gear while driving relatively slowly helped reduce my engine’s RPM and therefore helps me get more miles to the gallon. It’s known as “eco-driving”, and it saves money. Consider what measures your company takes to be efficient.
Are you paying for services that you could do yourself, like your accounts or press releases? Are you in an office space that has an unreasonably high rent? Are administrative tasks getting done as quickly as they should be? It is tempting to push everyone at a higher pace, but this results in startup burnout. Instead of trying to drive bigger and better results, start by reducing input to yield the same results. Do more with less. Essentially, drive your company at a high gear and a lower speed and see it go further as a result.
Establish Regular Contracts
As efficient as you can be when driving, you’ll only go so far on one tank of fuel. You need to refuel; what business can do business without… well, business? Look past the dream contracts and consider the longevity they offer. In order to see your business grow, you need to establish a steady stream of contracts (i.e., revenue streams, new business, etc.)
You can build revenue as well as experience, and avoid slow sales seasons. Of course, this is easier said than done. Competition for contracts may be intense so you need to ensure all of your bids make your company stand out from the crowd. Again, meticulous planning and solid organization skills are key if you are to maintain a constant flow of revenue.
Work with People You Trust
What road trip is complete without friends? It’s important that the people you work with are people you trust to make decisions, because as your company expands, they’ll need to start making some without regularly consulting you.
If an employee is loyal and good at their job, then you might want to consider offering them a senior role as the company expands. If you can trust them to look after a part of your business, then you can focus on the more strategic issues. Establishing a great company requires teamwork, so practice putting people in positions of authority. If they’re the right person for the job, you’ll see some real movement in your company soon enough.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Lee Wagstaff is a business writer for Thornton & Lowe, a Greater Manchester, UKcompany with offices in Bolton, Birmingham and Fife, that specializes in helping businesses make successful bids for tender across the UK. Connect with @Thornton_Lowe on Twitter.
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