Is Your Business Strategy To Be A Hare Or A Tortoise?


Is Your Business Strategy To Be A Hare Or A Tortoise?

I’m sure you’re familiar with the Aesop fable about the tortoise and the hare, and the moral of the story being ‘slow and steady wins the race’. 

Now whether the particular race is your own life, your business or just a key moment, the lessons are ones we really should heed rather than ignore. I’ve coached junior netball teams for the past six years and for anyone who has watched from the sidelines, they will often be watching a game of pure chaos because there’s not a lot of strategic thinking going on until skills are improved. It’s just a lot of activity with yelling, catching, passing, running; but little direction or purpose.

Why? Because they are not taking even one second to stop, look around and see what options are really available to them. Instead, they just pass to their mate or the person standing behind an opposition player rather than the player who is free and in the best position. When I see this happening, I’m on the sidelines yelling, “Tortoise, tortoise”, which is our codeword to slow down and take a breath. Codewords are great triggers to help players stop being the hare and instead play like the tortoise which is how we have trained.

Now I’m not saying I want my players always to be the tortoise who is slow and steady because sometimes, you have to be the hare who is agile and able to react to the situation quickly. But you can’t win a game of netball if everyone is the hare; they won’t see out the game because they’ll run out of legs. Nor can you win if everyone is the Tortoise; the opposition will beat you with pressure. It’s all about balance.

Now think about how you’re running your business?

I bet this the story probably sounds a bit too familiar. When I coach Small Business owners, one of the first things I do is to help them stop being the hare all the time because this strategy is killing them, and their business.

It’s impossible to build a simple, profitable business if all you’re doing is running and being ‘busy’ all the time. You have to take time to stop each and every day, to truly step back and see what’s working, and more importantly, what’s not working in your business so you can tweak it to gain the desired outcomes.

If you’re thinking, I don’t have time to stop, then my question to you is this, “How’s that working for you?”  

Because I bet you’re feeling frustrated, confused and overwhelmed because you’re actually not clear on what to do next, so you just keep doing things (and often the wrong things), in the hope, your day and your bank balance will improve. So if you’d like to change who’s really running your business from the hare to the tortoise, then the new financial year is a great opportunity for you to stop.

Spend some time and space on these 3 Rs:

1. Review.

Review your annual Business Plan to see if you’re on track to achieve your set goals. If it’s not on track, then what do you need to do, change, amend so your goals can be realistically achieved by Christmas, based on your current capacity, capability and financial means?

Don’t have a written annual Business Plan? Rather than beat yourself up about what you haven’t done, this is now a great time to write one for the next six months and then commit to achieving it.

2. Reset.

I’m sure your review process will highlight things which need to change, stop etc., so you can have a different (and thus better) next six months. So what do you have to reset so this can be achieved;  attitude, rituals, targets, systems, boundaries, expectations etc.?

3. Recharge.

In order to give yourself (and your team) the best chance of success, you must give yourself the time and space to recharge, both physically, mentally and emotionally. So please go away for a weekend with no email or ways to check in on the business, have a massage, catch up with friends or go to the movies. Do something which will help you unwind, relax and forget about your business (even just for a little bit).  You’ll be amazed at how much more positive you’ll feel about your business when you’re not in it every single minute of every single day; and how much clarity, and great ideas come from recharging.

Sydney J Harris said, The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”

Taking time out from your business to do the 3 Rs at least twice a year, but preferably every quarter or even better every month enables you to remain focused and keep things in perspective.

If you have a team working for you, then the 3 Rs also apply to them.  Otherwise, they will also be feeling burnout and thus not giving their best for your business which can result in frustration, confusion and often costly mistakes.

In this age of speed in technology and expectation, it’s critical to keep checking in with ourselves to make sure the hare doesn’t sneak up on us and force us to run when we really should be crawling. So, if you want to change from running a hare (reactive) business, remember it’s never too late to start the 3 Rs and become a tortoise (proactive) business because slow and steady truly does win the race.

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