The ability to analyze a situation, make a decision and then take action is a common trait you will find of most successful entrepreneurs. Whether they decide yes or no, and then act accordingly, these entrepreneurs understand that the key is to actually do something. Procrastination or relying upon the excuse of “we are waiting for the perfect time” is in many cases a recipe for disaster.
One afternoon, after a grueling session of instrument flight training, I was flying my airplane home with my instructor. As we flew into the San Francisco Bay Area from over the eastern foothills, I was just sitting there enjoying the scenery. As airplanes are wont to do, it started to bank slightly to the left. After what I had just been through, it didn’t seem like a big deal so I just sat there going along with it. However, left uncorrected, this situation could have turned into a problem. Eventually, my instructor asked if I was going to do anything about it. I casually leveled the wings and got us pointed more favorably in the right direction.
He said, “You know exactly what to. You just don’t do it fast enough.” I responded, “That’s the story of my life.” And, as I heard myself say that, I thought of a number of places where that was indeed true.
Could I correct them as easily and quickly? I could. There was no more information I needed or a better time I could wait for. I just needed to make the move. I went back to the office and let a difficult employee go. I had been agonizing for months about doing this, and so had everyone else. I was just watching the scenery, but taking no action. Who was I waiting for to tell me to act? We were all relieved when I finally leveled the company’s wings.
Sometimes you can wait for a harmonic convergence (when all the planets align) where every aspect of a situation is perfect and the situation allows for easy correction. However, most of the time it is simply not prudent to wait for the circumstances to conveniently make it easy for you to act. In some cases, if an action is not taken, the situation will simply spiral out of control or become uncorrectable.
This isn’t to say that you want to leap in and make a hasty decision that makes matters worse. But, waiting and seeing in most cases will do very little to turn the situation in your favor.
If you are uncertain, then take very small steps and measure what happens. Test. If you goof, it won’t cost much. We’ve tried a number of things – make a package and then get feedback from retailers; run a small ad to see if anybody responds before rolling the ad out nationally; test 1,000 names before mailing to 100,000, etc.
With any decision, see if you can engineer a fair test. The cost of inaction can be far more expensive than the test made to gather data… at least you did something and that has learning value as well as power in repositioning you for your next move.
Babe Ruth is famous for the 700+ home runs he hit. But, few people know that he also struck out more than 1,300 times. The key for entrepreneurs is to get up and take a swing at the ball as many times as you can. And that means using what you do know, trying things out, learning from the results – and keeping going. Don’t get caught with the bat sitting on your shoulder as strike three hits the catcher’s mitt! Level your wings before you find yourself in a spiral dive into the ground.