Climbing YOUR Everest: Why so many businesses FAIL
I wrote this the day before myself and Jacki left for our eighteen-day trek to Everest Base Camp. By the time you read this we will have hopefully returned safely after a successful trip and had some amazing experiences along the way.
For those of you who are not aware, we will climb/trek to a height of 5,364 metres or 17,598 ft (that sounds higher!). The journey from Lukla the ‘world’s most dangerous airport’, yes look it up in Wikipedia, to base camp and back is 130km and is steep going through villages such as Phakding, Namchee Bazaar, Tengboche, Dingboche and Gorka Shep until our final destination Base Camp itself.
Along the way we will…Contend with weather that can be hot one-minute and then below freezing the next….Avoid the yaks as they try to push you off the mountain as they bluster their way up….Cross rope bridges above chasms that will test anybody’s heart and potentially other parts of the anatomy….and try to breathe as the oxygen gets less and less.
So why am I telling you this? Well, on our last trek 18 months ago with Keith Crockford and his company The Bucket List Company, I leaned A LOT about myself.
Keith has been a client of ours for a few years now and The Bucket List Company was an idea formed at the Entrepreneurs Circle National Convention at the ICC in 2014; Keith had one of those lightbulb moments during a presentation by Debra Searle MBE.
Debra was a novice rower who rowed solo across the Atlantic after her then-husband, a 6ft 5? top-level club oarsman, was rescued from their boat after developing an uncontrollable fear of the ocean. She continued alone and rowed 3000 miles across the Atlantic with no safety boat and with enormous risks. It should have taken them 6 weeks, but to achieve her goal, Debra ended up spending three and a half months at sea alone, battling against thirty feet waves and sharks in a twenty-three-foot plywood boat.
Keith’s idea was simple; provide a similar experience to adults that his other company Rock and Rapid Adventures does for school children – The Bucket List.
Now, in my business my comfort zone is the boardroom, I love the cut and thrust of strategy, financial spreadsheets, performance management and everything that can go wrong and does go wrong in a business. I look at business as a game where I can set the rules and play to win.
HOWEVER, other people are like rabbits in headlights when entering the ‘metaphorical’ boardroom. Yes, they are highly skilled in their subject matter but since sacking their boss they have had to become a marketer, sales person, accountant, human resource specialist, project manager, agony uncle/aunt, strategist, fortune teller, leader, manager, customer service expert and the list goes on and on.
I have a strange sadistic streak in me as I like working with businesses and business owners when things are a bit chaotic, when the plan does not always work, where the marketing yield little results. The reason why is I have been very fortunate to have been involved in a whole manner of businesses and seen a LOT, so love a challenge. This is my happy place.
However, I am not a great outdoors person, my comfort zone is definitely stretched to a maximum when faced with a Bucket List type adventure. Keith on the other hand is in his element in the great outdoors as I am struggling with my backpack, the weather, the altitude and everything else the trip throws my way. Keith is there ‘skipping’ up the mountain helping me, and any other ‘virgins’ conquer their fears and trepidations as though he could do this in his shorts and flip flops. On our last trek he actually said to me at the end that he had never seen me look so worried about almost everything and our roles had completely reversed during those few weeks in May.
Eighteen months on and we are both a bit more comfortable with being in an environment where we were originally not comfortable. But – and this is the BIG but – I will never be a Bear Grylls or a Keith Crockford in the great outdoors, BUT Keith has become a great businessman, and this is the learning for this month.
I employ Keith and his company to help me get to Base Camp for the three weeks. I have a safety net of people there to help me with skills, knowledge, encouragement, accountability, there to challenge me physically and mentally. I am not trying to do this all on my own. They will help me succeed by understanding my limitations and mental fears.
I would never have dreamt of getting on a plane landing in Kathmandu then travelling to Lukla to start my trek on my own, cold, with no preparation, maps, equipment or plan.
Nobody reading this would do that. But we do though in business. We start our business because we are the expert, then we bluff, cajole, push our way through it trying to be everything to everyone without the core knowledge of how to actually run a business, employ people, create products and services, sell them and keep an eye on the money for the business we have created. Is it a wonder why most businesses 96% never see their tenth birthday and why only 5% grow above 10 staff?
I was once asked what I thought the reason was why most businesses do not reach these two milestones and my answer was simple – they just don’t know enough about what needs to happen to run a business. Added to this trying to do it all themselves, so it’s no wonder why for most business owners success is like going to Everest Base Camp or beyond.
I know I am in safe hands and will absolutely rely on Keith and his team to help me get to my summit. What about you? Who is helping you reach yours whether that is on knowledge or skills or activity?
What I do know is the journey is much nicer with a great team whereas on your own its lonely, cold and pretty damn scary.