Can moving too fast throw your business off-target? We all know that speed in business can be necessary to respond to a problem or to take advantage of a discrete opportunity. Serious problems must be addressed; and some opportunities can’t wait for you to get on board at your convenience.
What I’m talking about is moving too fast — from where your business is today to where you want it to be — without considering and understanding your target, your market, your customers or your capabilities to make a move that suddenly.
The past year has certainly instilled some urgency — perhaps even panic — in your thinking. If anything will provoke you to take quick action on whatever ideas you can think of to keep your business going, it’s a sudden, overnight, pandemic-induced economic recession. Some of your panic may have come about because you didn’t yet know that an option was a possibility, or hadn’t prepared for the consequences. But now you know.
Moving too Fast & Losing Track of Your Bull’s-Eye
Here are some of the ways that speed can kill, especially if you lose track of your business bull’s-eye:
• Your cash is low, you need more cash flow, and you need it now. So, you jump on a couple of ideas in your eagerness to bring cash in the door. It’s important to pause when you are struck by the urge to do this. Think about your goals and analyze the situation. Your sudden moves may not give you the results you desire, and you’ve spent precious time with minimal results and you’re still in the same predicament.
• You move fast on something and get some positive short-term results, but what you’re doing isn’t really within your business bull’s-eye. You’ve forged ahead with all due speed, it sort-of worked, yet now, here you are trying to figure out how it fits into your long-term plan.
• You decide you really need to strike out in a new direction, but fail to really consider your company’s strengths and weaknesses. The direction you’ve decided to go in spreads your capabilities too thin and you have to lean on your weaknesses instead of your strengths.
• You see where you want your business to be in the future, so you try to take a big leap from where you are today to where you want to be. However, somewhere along the way your customers peel off because they weren’t ready to move into the future. You changed the target, but they didn’t change with you.
In those scenarios, speed can cause you to stumble because you’ve ignored certain fundamentals. However, when you have those fundamentals solidly in place you have the ability to move quickly and take advantage of market opportunities, deal with abrupt changes or respond to a seismic shift in the market that forces you to change your bull’s-eye.
What are these important fundamentals?
• Information — Information is an indispensable tool. If you don’t have current and accurate information, moving quickly can lead to wasted time, money and effort. Moving with great speed in an information vacuum can be costly. Make sure you understand all the external factors and be hyper-vigilant in identifying change and tracking trends.
• Preparing for unknown opportunities — Based on your business bull’s-eye, you should be prepared for opportunities without knowing if or when they will appear. Always keep building your knowledge about the market, customer needs and emerging solutions, even if you have no immediate plans to put this information to use.
• Knowing your business inside and out — Make sure you understand your company’s strengths and weaknesses. If you know your business inside and out — your bull’s-eye, your team’s capabilities, where your business fits in the market — this understanding will support the use of speed and agility to take strategic action.
• Timing — When information, preparation and knowledge meet, you can confidently judge whether the timing is right for a fast move. Just make sure you aren’t missing anything that could make your target a little hazy.
Above all, consider your target, your business bull’s-eye. You need to be prepared, precise and practiced to move quickly. If you aren’t precise, speed won’t help you hit a target you haven’t defined. If you want to move fast, know your target, and know how you’ll know when you hit it. Be precise in what you’re aiming for so you can move with speed when the time is right.