I recently wrote the following in my Electric Car Driving Experience blog and thought the BMW driver was a good metaphor for many business owners.
The drive on Saturday was uneventful except for the behaviour of one BMW driver. On the short two-lane section near Wadebridge the BMW overtook me doing well in excess of the speed limit, I was doing 60 mph at the time. A little later I caught the car up in the windy single carriageway section, it was going slower than I would have done, particularly through the Allen valley. What was worse was that the driver was a brake stabber; arrive fast at a corner on the brakes, in the corner on the brakes, road narrows a bit on the brakes. Annoying and unnecessary. I did not use my brakes once, with some anticipation I just had to take my foot off the accelerator before the car in front braked. Driving that way, I maintained a safe and fixed distance between our cars. Had the BMW driver adopted a similar driving style the passengers would have had a more pleasant ride, the car would have used less fuel, the environment would have benefitted and there would have been less brake wear.
The BMW driver was reacting to changing road conditions not anticipating them, they were not using all the information available: looking ahead to see the road, noticing the road signs for bends, junctions etc., the pattern of the white lines on the road. Many business owners are guilty of similar behaviour with their heads down working in the business, not reading the signs and not anticipating what is coming. Instead, they react to the crisis when it arrives.
I know of many business owners who have invested in networking or social media marketing then when the business starts rolling in, they stop doing it. Then when business demand dries up, they suddenly start doing it again. This example is about speeding up, with the BMW driver it was slowing down, both give a jerky journey which is uncomfortable for the car’s passengers and the business’s staff or in the case of a sole trader their family. A smooth approach will result in quicker progress.
Another ‘stabbing on the brakes’ activity is credit control, nothing much is done until cashflow is a problem then there is a flurry of activity of chasing debtors with other activities being side-lined. It is much better to take a smooth approach and manage those debtors consistently, the cash will then indeed flow.
Braking alters the balance of the car and the weight distribution across the tyres, particularly braking while cornering, this can lead to a loss of grip. If this happens when road conditions are bad, a patch of oil or diesel, damp leaves or standing water it could lead to a crash. It is the same in business if things are out of balance, for example the accounting is not up today, stock levels not adequate, staff not trained, invoicing not raised promptly, etc. when conditions get rough, and we have seen lots of that recently, the business may crash. When you need to apply for credit and the bank want accounts, if these are not up to date there will be a delay while you are getting this done (perhaps neglecting sales activity) and this could lead to worsening cash flow that could push the business over the edge before the loan comes through. Or even if the loan does arrive before the crunch, it could be too late if sales have dried up due to that lack of activity.
Just like a well-balanced car has a better chance of dealing with the unexpected, so will a well- balance business. Don’t be a brake stabber, look up, look ahead and anticipate.
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