One of the first questions I like to ask entrepreneur’s and CEO’s when I meet them is what stage of their business journey they are in. I present four categories: the contented, the growers, the speed bumpers, and the exiters.
Building a business is rarely ever a straight line up to the top. There are twists, turns, and bumps along the way. Sometimes the adjustments are small and easy. Occasionally you will hit a big one, and major shifts can be required. These are speed bumpers and about ten percent of the entrepreneurs I ask this question to fall into this category.
Speed bumps are survivable. As hard and painful as they are if you handle them well your company can end up stronger and better on the other side. But if you don’t adjust and respond, you will find yourself in serious trouble.
About two weeks ago, I landed in Omaha, Nebraska late at night. I had forgotten to charge my iphone earlier in the day, and I was out of juice when I landed. So instead of waiting to power up to order an uber, I did an old-fashioned thing and jumped in a cab.
My cab driver was sure happy to see me. He had been waiting for a ride for four hours. Before uber, his average wait was 45 minutes. The $20 I gave him for the $10 dollar ride did not really seem to make up his pain.
I asked him about shifting his life around, and he could not comprehend the thought. Although he was young, he had been driving cab for nine years and it was all he knew how to do (in his mind).
This young cab driver had hit a speed bump, and he keeps driving over the same one. He can’t make a change. In this case, technology had moved his world. In other instances, an entrepreneur might lose a major customer or a supplier. Something shifted.
The next time you hit a speed bump (and you might not see it coming) don’t follow the example of the cab driver in Omaha. Adapt and flex. Or it will be a long wait on a cold night for your next dollar.
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