This article is a response to a story about business goals and strategy over on Ann Hawkin’s blog.
I’ll repeat my own version here briefly:
Your village is about to run out of food. The elders meet and decide to hunt a deer. The hunt is planned and you all set off into the forest full of eager excitement. Soon, you stumble across fresh deer tracks and follow them deeper into the woods.
Suddenly, in a clearing, you come across a wild boar, fast asleep. The boar is clearly an easier kill and will tide your village over for a while. It’s going to be noisy and take time, so the deer will get away. And there is less meat on a boar, so the village will go hungry again sooner.
Your hunting party is faced with a difficult decision: Do you bring home the smaller boar and leave the deer for another day? Or do you ignore the boar and focus on your original objective?
I’d love to know what your own response to this question is. Let me know in the comments!
My own take, in no particular order:
1. Experience: In my own experience, and from discussion with clients, it has NEVER paid off to hunt the boar. It is a pure distraction and best ignored. Delay in reaching your primary objective will move success further down the line.
In reality, what normally happens, is that the boar wakes up, makes a lot of noise, gives you the run-around for a few weeks and then disappears into thin air. You’re left with no result, rather than a quick win. The notion of a miracle quick win is optimistic at best anyway and compounded by the fact that your strategy, tools, processes are all geared towards another outcome.
2. Financial: When you have no capital, you can’t afford to be distracted by other opportunities. Execute on your plan and get to revenue faster! When you have capital, you have no excuse not to execute on your planned strategy!
3. Missed learning time: Time you spend following your primary goal makes you better at your business. Time spent away from it delays the necessary learning and contributes nothing to your future success. You’ll be back at square one after the boar hunt is finished. Subtle but important.
4. Psychological: Every time you follow the boar, it will become easier and easier to do so. Setting up a business is hard, give yourself the best chances not to stray from the path!
5. Fear: The choice for boar is often based on fear. When you have no income, any success seems like success. But it’s a distraction and will only make your money run out more quickly! Sit down and evaluate: if money issues were taken away right now, would you still be tempted to go after the boar?
6. Do you even know what your deer is? Often we are not able to distinguish between boar and deer. When food runs out, we run into the forest without strategic planning. We’re very busy hunting – but for what? Never mind the boar, perhaps we should pick mushrooms instead?
I hope that’s given you some food for thought. And if you don’t know what your deer is, please take time out this very weekend, with your team, for some strategic planning. You owe it to yourself and your business!