Three Men in a Boat

My ears are filled with splashing water and bubbles, closed eyes heighten my other senses. A strong inhale to get the fluttering butterflies in formation as I prepare to start to paddle the boat. Slowly, I open my eyes to see the other bodies around me as we rapidly approach the channel between two large rocks. You may have been on a raft before, but you never know how things change from the last time you were in one. To me, it felt a lot like the first time I entered a board room or stepped on the stage in front of a company presentation.

How will it be different this time? The only thing in my control is how I act and react! River rafting and business have so many similarities – and neither activity is for the faint-hearted.

Business leaders; you have come up with an amazing idea that will revolutionise your business and the lives of your clients. The only thing standing between you and eudaimonia is getting the other members of your team to buy in, your board and then your customers. Sometimes, you have to let go of your inhibitions to take on the risks of business ownership or management, just like taking control of a raft on the river. Both can be unpredictable.

There’s always something holding us back from where we are trying to achieve. Being referred to as a visionary or ahead of your time appears to be a good thing until it means that your team does not buy into where you are going to go with your company. Here’s how to get your team to row in the same direction:

Aim the boat:

River rafting is an exhilarating activity with a known destination usually. The thing you can’t always anticipate is the exact route of travel and if there will be obstacles that could get in the way. When it comes to your business, it’s vital to set your boat in the right river facing the right direction.

In business, this comes in the form of a business plan. I love the Business Model Canvas. This simplistic view of your business enables you to share and create a direction of travel that described simply, and easily altered. You’ll need to work with your team to agree where the company is going and then you design an ideal client type, how you are going to deliver the client experience and lastly, which clients will you let go of.

The building blocks that make up your business things can be effectively visualised and easily altered using the Business Model Canvas. It is an incredibly effective hands-on tool the whole team can use.

Roles are important:

The river that your business is now set upon is starting to pull the raft. Is your team positioned accordingly? Do they understand what they are supposed to do? Have they done this before? You need to make sure that as you progress through the different parts of the river that they are well prepared for each of the challenges you may come across. Everyone in your boat must feel confident, all on the same wave length and understand the ultimate destination.

People like to work to a system and when you delegate roles within your team, everyone is encouraged to work efficiently – you need to have the right people in the right roles. Think about specific and written roles – what am I going to do and how will it help the team and our clients?

Preparation for opportunities:

On a Class 3 river or higher (more extreme and rushing rapids) the preparation you put into practice will make the journey more fun for an experienced, confident crew. If the confidence is built up within the team, everyone is rowing in the same direction and roles are delegated accordingly, the leader of the raft can pursue a more exciting route down the river.

When you are rolling down the business river, clear plans and great direction and preparation leads to some amazing things. Some of them will be attacking new markets, new products, selecting niche clients whilst gaining more free time to enjoy the spoils of your efforts.

Another useful tool to determine what you wish to accomplish within your business is Objectives, Strategies and Tactics. Establish your goals, whether that’s more clients, more profits or more time, and set workable strategies that will guarantee you achieve them.

So, what’s the next step for you? Get your oars in the water, your team in the boat and you will be rowing down happy valley if you follow these simple concepts and systems.