What does hiking have to do with your business? Turns out, actually a lot.
1) Be prepared.
If you're going for a hike, the number one rule is to be prepared.
When you hike, you start with the necessities - food, water, shelter, proper attire, etc. You know your route and time-frame, use a map to guide you, and plan to be home by sunset.
Your business is the same, you start with the necessities - an idea, a plan, confidence, and faith. You map out your business plan, create a time-frame for business objectives, and stay committed to deadlines.
The difference is, on the mountain, you can't give up. In your business, you may feel like you're climbing uphill for a while, but don't give up... there's a great view at the summit.
2) Fear gets you nowhere. Move on.
There are predators in the woods. Mountain Lions, Bobcats, and Bears... oh, my! There's also tough terrain, steep cliffs, and unforeseen challenges.
Once, I was solo traveling and met a sommelier at a wine vineyard in Carmel Valley, CA. He told me about a short hike to a private beach in Big Sur where "you'll take your shoes off to cross a stream, and trek through the woods to the beach." No big deal, right? Except when you're alone, don't know the area, and see signs at the trail head that read: "Do Not Hike Alone. Beware of Mountain Lions and Bobcats." Honestly? That's a bit scary.
I found myself running, not hiking, through the woods. Unfamiliar with the predators lurking. Thinking, should I just turn back? How far away is this beach? How do I protect myself? Why did I trust a sommelier who was heavy-pouring the Pinot Noir? I should turn back... until the woods cleared and the beach appeared. A private beach, all to myself, in Big Sur. One of the greatest moments of my life - awe like I have never experienced before.
Business is no different. Challenges, fears, and risk lurk everywhere. Your mind will play tricks on you. It's crucial to understand how to manage your emotions and thoughts. When you don't reach your destination as quickly as you'd like, then self-doubt and insecurity creeps in. Often times, it becomes easier to just quit. Fear gets you nowhere. Move on... don't miss the private beach. You're better than that.
3) Tell people where you are and what you're up to.
Not only did I fear tragedy by Bobcat and Mountain Lion, but there was also the sobering reality that no one knew where I was or what I was up to. You see, there is no cell phone reception in Big Sur and no one knew I was hiking Andrew Molera State Park. If I went missing, or something went awry, I gave myself no chance to survive. And, that's bad business.
Your business survives when your target market knows how to find you and your network has a chance to support you. You have to make real connections and make it easy for others to find you. Share stories and ideas that inspire. Provide valuable content that naturally leads others your way.
When people know where you are, then they can come to your aid. That will not only save you on a hike, but it will also secure your opportunity to succeed in business.
4) Your mindset matters more than your muscles.
Alright, so you do have to be in shape to go hiking. But, I think that the most important aspect of hiking is your mindset, not necessarily your muscles.
The body can endure a lot, but it's the mind who plays tricks on us. I hiked Franconia Notch, NH with my boyfriend and being mid-May, we thought that the route would be clear. But, to our surprise we ended up climbing rock, covered in sheets of slippery ice. One false step, you slip, and things could go downhill real quick- literally.
So yea, I fell. Landed on my butt on a solid patch of ice, and it hurt. I felt tired, beaten, and discouraged. I wanted to give up. (Meanwhile, there were still 3 miles left in a 9.5 mile hike).
Instead, I got over myself, got back up, chose not to be upset, accepted my misstep and carried on. We finished our hike to the 5,249-foot summit of Mount Lafayette, over 3 peaks, and I felt proud.
Your business is no different. You don't have to be perfect, but you do have to take the first step. Climb the mountain, and get over yourself when things don't go as planned. Otherwise, you are going to end up tired, beaten, and discouraged. You'll miss out on the feeling of accomplishment, because you've got your butt stuck in the mud.
Falling down - or "failure" -is just an opportunity to get up and prove how strong you are. Now, carry on.
5) Research Makes the Venture Worthwhile
Would you go on a hike without having a map? Would you head out without looking at the weather conditions or without an understanding of the terrain? Probably not.
I can tell you that hiking the White Mountains, the Appalachian Mountains, the Rockies, and the Sierras are all different adventures with different skill levels and requirements. But, how would you know what to expect without doing your research?
Business ventures are the same. You must understand your target market and the unique terrain within that niche. What is the opportunity, and how are you equipped to help clients reach the summit of their own success?
This is market research. Use your resources to determine what your target market wants from you, and the best places to find them. How can you position yourself as an expert and give them what THEY want. All of this is information is as valuable to you as food, water and shelter are on a hike. If you want your business to thrive, then do your research.