I’ve used the analogy of sailing to describe business many times – and not just because I’m a sailor!
Here are 8 ways that show it.
- Let’s say you want to sail across Lake Ontario from Toronto to Rochester. You know where you’re starting from and where you want to get to – your destination. That’s like business planning. For example, you plan to get gross sales of $1 million and you have a revenue of $0 to start.
- You have a nautical map and use it to mark your route. In business this is your written business plan.
- When sailing especially when you’re taking a long trip in waters unknown to you, you need a chart (map) that shows what’s under the water – rocks, shoals, sandbars or reefs. In business you must know your industry and its trends and you must always be learning so you have a good idea of what’s coming. The future could hold things like changes in your industry, technology updates, the need for a mobile friendly website, or new laws like CASL (Canadian Anti-Spam Law).
- Sailing is different from using a powerboat since the motor in a powerboat allows you get to your destination in a straight line. There’s no such thing as “straight there” in sailing. It always depends on the wind – you could be on a tack or a reach; use a small sail or your spinnaker. In business you learn to “go with the flow” and expect changes – in everything.
- Speed is also dictated by the wind on a sailboat. Sometimes you move fast (on a reach – all hands on deck) and sometimes you’re in irons (no wind and therefore no movement) during which you clean the ship, fix sails etc. As I said in another article “All marketing is slow marketing“.
- You keep adjusting your sails to try to get as “close to the wind” as you can. In business you need to review your marketing and sales results (analytics, split headlines) frequently and then tweak your plan accordingly. But since you know your destination that’s not a problem. Changing it just gets you closer.
- You could be in a fog (a real one like I was in San Francisco Bay) or heavy rain and you need help from others. We asked the US Coast Guard for help. In business it’s important to know when to ask for help.
- Before you begin any sailing – daysailing, racing or a trip, you ALWAYS check the equipment – the sails, the lines, the mast, and even the team to make sure they’re all in good shape. In a business the first thing you need is knowledge. I know it’s free on the internet but that’s not good enough – take courses – hire a consultant – get a team around who know what they’re doing because they’ve done it before.
Does this make you think of other similarities you? Tell me!