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Why climbing the Hakarimatas is like running a business

Posted by Jacqui Gage-Brown on May 22, 2017 9:13:28 AM

Mix a little bit of torture with beautiful scenery and what do you get? A favourite weekend walk/climb of mine, the Hakarimata Summit Track (or for the locals, the Huks). My nine-year-old Ezra can make it to the top quicker than me, and seven-year-old Felix is not far behind. It’s a challenge, but rewarding with a dash of fun.

Not one to shy away from a challenge is IT Partners' managing director and HGB’s business advisor, Andrew Johnson. A slightly bigger fan than me (he’s up there on a weekly basis!), Andrew recently shared with the HGB team at our Q2 strategic planning session five lessons he's learnt from climbing the Huks, and how they relate to running a business.

Tighten your laces and stretch your calves, here are Andrew’s five lessons for people in business.

1. The Huks are easy at the start

Everyone who hikes the Huks for the first time is lured into a false sense of security. There’s no pressure, the pace is gentle, and the stairs are yet to hit you. People say to their walking buddies, “I don’t know what the fuss is about – this is easy!” But once you get past the waterfall, it gets hard.

Running a business is a lot like this. Starting something is easy. Going the distance and making it to the top is hard.

The lesson for us: let’s make sure we set long-term goals for our businesses. Don’t just complete them, nail them!

2. The Huks are easy when you’re going downhill

With gravity in your favour, descending the Huks is a breeze and it’s easy to get comfortable.

Many businesses go through comfortable stages, with the feel of the wind on their backs, the spinnakers in full sail. But often when the business is doing well and making money, people have no idea why – or more importantly, what levers they need to change when the wind turns.

The lesson for usmake sure we have the data to understand what is driving growth and how. We need to know how to sail through both the good times and the tough times.

3. The Huks get easier - after doing it 100 times

The Huks do get easier – after you’ve completed them 100 times. There is no substitute for practice and training – getting the one percent advantage takes work.

It’s the same in business. Experience makes us stronger and more effective – we need to keep focused, learn from our mistakes, and always look for ways to improve.

The lesson for us: experience counts and will give us the advantage over our competition. Experience is also in short supply – few people do it 100 times. 

4. Train for the Huks with a weight vest

If you can power up the Huks with a vest, imagine how fast you will be when you drop the weight.

We can also train for business with a weight vest, by taking a long-term view and preparing ourselves for future challenges.

The lesson for us: put your weight vest on and train harder and better than the competition. Just don’t carry the weight when going into battle.

5. Doing the Huks takes commitment and execution

Like I said earlier, the Huks are easy at the start. But once you hit the stairs, you must dig deep. It would be easy to get halfway and turn around – but where’s the challenge and satisfaction in that? 

There have been many times as a small business owner where I’ve faced challenges that have seemed insurmountable. But with commitment and execution I’ve been able to overcome these challenges and carry on my journey.

The lesson for us: Execution is everything – there is no substitute. Make everything you do count. 

Looking for a training buddy? Need someone to keep you on track? At HGB we use our strategic marketing experience to help clients climb their own mountains. We know first-hand the importance of commitment and execution, and we always have a supply of protein bars and ice-cold drinks to help you along the way!

We look forward to seeing you at the summit. Happy climbing!  

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Topics: Business