Today is International Day of the Seafarer. If you were sailing around the world, you’d make sure you were prepared and had the best boat possible. 

You would do this by researching your boat.  Is it fit for purpose? What unique features does it have to make it more suitable than the other boats available?  Will it stand the test of time?  Is it strong?  Do you like it? 

Who’s your crew? 

You may need a crew for your boat. So, are you going to just take along “your mate Dave from down the pub”? He may have captained a pedalo around the shoreline of Brean, but does he really know what’s best for your business?  Do you know what roles need filling? What skills are needed? Who are the right people who won’t let you down? Could your crew spend time together day in day out without throwing each other overboard? 

Are there any services you need?  

Communications tools to make sure you can stay in touch with people outside the boat. IT to help steer the boat in the right direction, log its movements and highlight areas needing essential maintenance. Will you bring these services in-house or outsource them? What are the pros and cons of each of your options? 

Do you actually know where you are going to and how you plan to get there? 

Where are you going to? How you are going to get there? What are you going to do when you get there? Do you believe you will make it to your destination? The answer to this last question in particular can have a massive effect on your success or failure. 

Do you have emergency/reserve supplies on board in case you hit troubled waters or got stranded on a deserted island? Have you considered your escape plan, or how you get yourself back to some plain sailing without drowning first? 

Your business 

Now imagine this is your business. The boat is your product. Would you get on board?  Why would a customer choose your business or product over one of your competitors? 

Do you have a real eye on what your core offering is? Or, have you got distracted with all the bells and whistles? In the same way the mythical mermaid would lure sailors off course that “shiny new object” can do the same to your business. How are you planning on keeping your focus? 

People are everything 

It’s always good to remember why people choose to use a particular company. For example, some people will choose a product or business because it has the latest gadget or app etc.  However, a lot of people will choose because of the person they are dealing with. They trust that person. So, they put their confidence in the relationship they have built with someone, not a gadget. In the case of the boat, one may have the most technologically advanced navigational system going but if you think the captain isn’t up to the job you probably wouldn’t get on board. Your business is the boat, you are the captain Your clients are the passengers, you want them to come on board and stay on board. 

It may not be all plain sailing 

Have you equipped yourself for difficult times, not just financially but emotionally and mentally? It would be great to say business is always plain sailing, but the truth is it isn’t. There are days you will get out of bed and not want to be the captain. Days when you think it would have been easier to just get a “proper job”. Or days when your computers go down, or your kids are off school sick, and you have a presentation to do.  But all of this is normal but at the time can feel very stressful and you may wonder if it’s worth it.  So, at these times remind yourself of what you’re aiming for.  What does this path give you over the alternative? More flexible time meaning you get to take your kids to school?  A lifestyle you create to suit you?  

Getting back to it is what makes the difference, not beating yourself up for stalling. Because, if your boat stopped in the middle of the ocean you wouldn’t think “oh balls to it I can’t be arsed” would you? No, you wouldn’t, or you would be stuck in the middle of the ocean, going nowhere and not lasting very long.  Your supplies would quickly deplete along with your emotional, mental and physical health. 

Keep rowing 

Business is no difference, get the engine restarted and follow your plan as this is what will make the biggest difference to you and your business. This is exactly what all those “overnight successes” did. They didn’t give up. Hell no, they kept rowing away through the choppy waters. All the time navigating their way through until they reached their destination. So, get planning, adapt the plan if needed but most importantly keep rowing.