Run Your Business: Running on ice


March 25, 2024

Photo: RichVintage/ E+/Stock Photos/ Getty Images

Photo: RichVintage/ E+/Stock Photos/ Getty Images

I couldn’t do it all the time, but I enjoy running on a winter morning. There is something about the cold, brisk air that fills me with energy. Recently, I went out for a run, excited to try out my new pair of running shoes. While the temperature was in the low teens, the weather was perfect. Clear blue skies and no wind.

With my first few steps, I noticed something was off with my new running shoes. They felt like they weren’t gripping the road properly. I pushed it aside, thinking it might be a protective coating on the soles that would quickly wear off.

I focused on adjusting to the temperature. The challenge is to dress comfortably for the end of the run. This means you are underdressed (and cold!) when you start your run. It usually takes me the first mile or so for my body to start warming up.

When I finally warmed up, I was able to bring my attention back to my new shoes. Not only were they not gripping the road right, they were getting even worse. I realized what was going on. Despite the sun shining, overnight frozen rain coated the roads with an invisible, thin sheet of ice.

I am definitely not a fan of running on ice. It’s an accident waiting to happen. Now I was faced with a dilemma. I was too under-dressed to stop and walk. Should I turn around and head back home?

I slowed down, carefully watching every step I took. Whenever possible, I ran on grass and the gravel by the curb. Eventually, just as I hoped, the thin sheet of ice melted away and everything was fine.

Running on ice can be scary and dangerous.

Have you ever had a moment in your business where you felt you were running on ice? Where your feet are flying but you’re going nowhere? Or even worse, where you are careening out of control and can’t do anything to stop?

Several years ago my business felt as if we were spinning out of control on ice. It was mostly for good reasons; we were growing like crazy.

Growth is fun. And growth can be easily handled when it is planned and expected. Part of our growth was planned. We made a small acquisition and were ready to take on those new accounts. From our past experiences, we were prepared for a modest increase in our year-over-year sales.

Suddenly things went crazy, in a good way. First, our existing sales increased more than double what we planned for. We found ourselves understaffed and scrambling to find, hire and train the right applicants. On top of that, our biggest commercial client requested we take over services for their locations around the Philadelphia area. What was crazy was, we actually were planning on expanding into the Philly area in a few years, and felt this was a gift to push us into the area sooner.

But like that invisible sheet of ice on the road, we were spinning in every direction and out of control. The key to control: keep going, just like I had to do on my icy run. You can’t stop, or nothing will get fixed. Also, you can’t keep spinning in every direction, or again, nothing gets fixed.

Like my run, we slowed down. We took careful steps forward. We analyzed our entire business to identify everything we were doing right and what needed to be fixed. By breaking everything down to small sections, we were able to actually see the full picture and prioritize our most urgent moves. This enabled us to promote managers and hire new staff with a clear vision on where we needed to go. Slowly and carefully we gained traction and were able to move forward until we were back on solid ground.

No matter what you’re doing, that patch of ice is out there waiting for you. But if you slow down and step carefully, you’ll be able to get through anything.

Have a great run!


About the Author

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Broder is owner of BHB Pest Elimination, New York, N.Y.

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