Running downhill can be fun. It brings out your inner child and feels free and effortless.
I love that wild, unabandoned feeling of flying downhill and having the wind in my face as I glide down at a much faster pace than my usual run.
But running downhill is one of the most frequent causes of injuries to runners.
As you race down that hill, it is very difficult to see obstacles in your path. When you finally do see it, it’s very likely you will stumble. That’s what happened in my first marathon. It was a cold and gray November morning and just as the race started, a heavy rain drenched the entire course.
One section of the race was down a steep dirt path. On my second round, the path turned into a muddy, slippery mess. I slipped and then tripped over a tree root and twisted my ankle. That was the end of the race for me.
Businesses going through a period of rapid growth can feel a lot like running downhill. It’s fun and exciting, but in so many ways you are totally out of control and it is very difficult to see the obstacles in your path.
Of course, a company experiencing rapid growth is doing many things right. They have the right service programs in place, they have the right customers, the right employees and they are marketing themselves correctly to quickly grow their business.
But collecting all those new sales is meaningless if you are unable to properly service all those new accounts. One individual technician can only do so many stops on a route. Rapid growth requires every aspect of your business to grow at the same rates. Technicians, supervisors, office staff and vehicles. Everything needs to grow together to continue to deliver the quality of service you promised that customer.
Rapid growth is not for every business. My company had a long growth stretch seeing increases of 10 percent to 25 percent each year. We were just barely able to keep up with this pace. We knew where we were going, how to get there and had the resources to adapt whenever any obstacles appeared. But I’m not sure we could have handled more than that.
Running downhill can be exhilarating. It can also be scary and dangerous. After my injury, I made sure to stay in control so I could handle any obstacles. It’s the same thing with running a business. We need to be prepared in all areas so we can support the increased sales. We need to know what lies on the road ahead so we can overcome the challenges and give our customers the best service possible.
Have a great run!