The movie Forrest Gump has a very memorable story of a “disabled” boy who defied all odds and achieved his wildest dreams by running.
Young Forrest had weak knees and as he moved around in leg braces, he became the butt of many jokes. He was almost denied admission into an ordinary school because he was seen as “mentally slow”.
But in his life, he achieved more than the average person could ever dream off: he became an American football star, won Olympic gold in table tennis, became a war hero, shook hands with three different American presidents and built a successful business.
How did running inspire him?
When he was young, some school bullies wanted to beat him up. His best friend told him to just run.
“Run Forrest run!”, she screamed as the bullies chased him.
Then a miracle happened. As he struggled to increase his awkward pace, the leg braces broke and fell off.
Instead of Forrest’s weak knees buckling in, they actually pushed him forward at such great speed that his pursuers saw him disappearing like a mist hundreds of metres away.
Later in life, because of his speed, he was selected into a college football team, he went on to play at the highest level.
Speed also helped him save his comrades during the Vietnam war. But Forrest did not triumph by just running; he ran in the right direction.
At one time, some bullies chased him by car. Instead of relying on his speed and keeping on the road, he jumped across fences where the car couldn’t cross. But what has this story have to do with entrepreneurship and business?
As the quotation at the beginning says, if you want to move ahead, you have to run faster than you have been doing before.
Imagine seeing a four-year-old kid still suckling her mother’s milk.
Well, that’s what some businesses are still doing years after being started.
I was forwarded an email from a colleague recently, talking about some international investors looking for high growth business opportunities in Zimbabwe.
The email said these people wanted to invest in companies with exceptionally high growth potential. This rules out your business if you are looking at 10 to 20% growth, because to these investors, that is peanuts. So you need to think about how you can make your business grow exponentially and exceptionally, not at a snail’s pace.
The starting place is in your mind.
You need to be prepared for the growth; the discipline and hardwork it will take and the money (lots of it) that you will make. Once your mind has accepted that you can do it, you then work out a plan and start running: putting the plan into action.
Doing things the same way we did in 2011 will only bring the same, or worse results. So make changes in the way you run your business.
Get back to the basics. Prepare action plans and act on them. Spend time on marketing activities. Learn new skills. Set up business systems that will allow your business to grow without you having to manage every little thing. Manage your cash flows. Work with accurate financial reports.
Make decisions based on sound business principles. Improve the quality of your products and provide excellent service. Train your staff in the essential skills that will help your business grow.
Some of these business basics have already been covered in previous articles, but I will cover in depth the most important ones that will propel you and your business to the next level.
Next week I will look at why you need to ditch less valuable customers and focus on your most valuable ones. Without that, you cannot grow your business. Please email me your thoughts and feedback at the address below.
Phillip Chichoni is a strategic business planning and financial management consultant who works with SMEs and entrepreneurs. You may contact him by email on email@example.com.