17th March 2016

You had better be running

There is a slide in the Gazelles IP that I use every time I am working with the leadership team of a Scaling Up business. The background features a herd of gazelles on some African plane. The words read “Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up it knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle when the sun comes up you had better be running.”  Those portentous words describe perfectly the challenge of business.

Someone else described the appeal of running a business with the words. “Going into business for yourself, becoming an entrepreneur is the modern-day equivalent of pioneering on the old frontier”. For sure one of the most fun things about running a business, especially for yourself, has to be that there is no hiding place and there can be no excuses. You either can make it work, or you can’t. The challenge isn’t for everyone. For those who are brave enough to take on the challenge the difficulties can be huge but along with every other challenging situation the rewards, both spiritual and personal can be huge too. To create something unique, something worthwhile, something that others find valuable is incredibly satisfying.

However in the 21st century it has become increasingly difficult to get away with running a company badly. Competition is intense and no longer limited by geography. Thanks largely to the internet almost anyone can sell anything anywhere. The need to perform legally and ethically has never been more pressing. Social media means that our service levels are under constant public scrutiny.

To deliver the triple bottom line of supplier of choice, investment of choice and employer of choice is as challenging as it has ever been. The entrepreneur who will be successful in the 21st century needs not only to be brave but to be smart. Add to that the technological landscape in which we operate and the unprecedented rate of change that it implies and it will be a challenge to keep abreast of all the available advances.

Whether you are a lion or a gazelle when you wake up not only had you better be running but as the competition will be constantly upping their game it would be wise to make sure you have the training regime to make sure that your game is improving faster than the competition too.