Written by Tim Sernett, Accounting & Finance Advisor for SMBs | Owner-Virtual BeanCounters Inc | Entrepreneurship enthusiast | Dad | Sports nut
What do you think of when you think of the phrase “road trip”? Perhaps great memories of road trips with your best friends when you were younger, or the first great family road trip with your kids.
Well the road trip I want to tell you about I was sort of dreading and not really looking forward to. This particular road trip was out of necessity.
There’s a funny story behind why I was making the road trip (at least funny in hindsight anyway). I’d just wrapped up another hectic tax season and man did I need some quality R&R. My wife and I decided to visit the Florida Keys with plans to spend the first few days of the week in Key West. If you’ve ever flown into Miami, rented a car and made the drive to Key West, you know it’s a long day.
On our travel day it never stopped raining in Florida, so the 3.5 hour drive from Miami to Key West was nearly 5 hours. Not a very relaxing first vacation day. We finally got checked in, found a cozy little restaurant, and I was halfway through my first umbrella drink of what I hoped would be a relaxing, fun week. And then my son called. He’s in San Diego going to school, so when he calls we naturally are curious what’s up.
What “was up” was he had just totaled his car! (Thankfully, and while it’s only funny in hindsight, is because he was physically OK).
After a few choice words for my son and another umbrella drink (actually, an Old Fashioned), I calmed down and enjoyed the rest of the week.
However, the week did include several phone calls trying to arrange for insurance claims, rental cars, body shops, claims adjustors, and final settlement with the insurance company on what turned out to be a totaled car.
Ok…now let’s get back to the road trip. Long story short, I decided the best course of action was to buy, plate and title a car in Kansas, and then drive it out to my son in San Diego. Why not fly my son home and make him drive the car back to San Diego, you ask? Well, he just totaled a car, he’s 21 and he’s never made a drive by himself over 2-3 hours.
Road trip! Awesome. 25 hours of drive time. By myself. It actually turned out to be a pretty smooth trip. No extreme weather, no huge delays, no new (used) car issues. And, some takeaways that I wanted to share with you:
1. The Speed of Progress
I don’t really buy into the saying ‘slow and steady wins the day’. In today’s technology-laced world speed matters, but I also believe that ‘steady’ has to be part of the formula.
Have you ever noticed on a road trip, when you make a pit stop for gas or a restroom break, you end up passing the same trucks you did an hour or two ago – sometimes more than once during the day if you’re running down the same interstate stretch?
At the end of the day you’ll most likely end up making faster progress than the trucks, but if you could just figure out their bladder control tricks and make more steady progress you’d be even further down the road :-).
The same is true in business – depending on your stage of business, identify the one or two goals you should be working on, and then find your focus and make steady progress.
2. Vision, Having a Plan
The worst part of a long road trip is the first two or three hours. It feels like you have so far to go and the going is slow. But if you have a plan and vision of how you’re going to accomplish the whole task, eventually you can relax into the plan and stay in the present of accomplishing what’s in front of you.
The same is true in business. You clearly understand the past (financial statements) and how your business got to where it is today. You really should have a vision and plan (business plan and financial projections) of where you want your business to go and how you’re going to get there.
If both are clear in your mind, it makes it so much easier to relax into the plan, staying present and focused on accomplishing today’s tasks and projects, all the while moving the plan down the road.
3. Last But Not Least…Enjoy the Journey!
Don’t get too focused on the narrow road directly in front of you. Enjoy the journey. Driving across the western half of the USA, I realized just how amazing and beautiful this country is.
The beauty can be breathtaking and the opportunities are amazing. As you drive your business forward, enjoy the grind. Enjoy leading your team and helping them grow, embrace your vendors, and take pride in delighting your customers.
What about you? Any amazing road trip stories and life/business lessons you’d like to share? Leave a comment below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.