This might seem like an odd title for a blog post, but as I’m all about entering new markets, I’d like to share some comparisons that struck me yesterday. Autumn in the foothills of the Alps is a bit like the “little girl who had a little curl” rhyme: when it’s good, it’s very very good, but when it’s bad it’s horrid. Yesterday, Austria’s National Day, was no exception. Temperature inversions at this time of year often result in cold air in the valleys but warm sunshine at higher altitude.
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Plan before you set out
We worked on the principle that “if you don’t like where you are, you need to change something”. So we did a quick search of the webcams to see if there was somewhere nearby that we could hike without fog. We decided to head to the nearby Ennstal to top up on vitamin D and get in a bank holiday hike.
Whilst we were flexible about the details we knew we needed a plan – just like entering new markets.
Trust your systems
To say it was a miserable drive would be an understatement, and setting off from the car park wasn’t really much better. The fog was so thick that we could hardly see 5m ahead. We relied on our map reading skills to find the way. Underfoot was muddy and slippery and I found myself wondering whether I should have just stayed in bed a bit longer…
However, after around half an hour, we came out onto a well-marked track and were soon above the clouds enjoying the glorious views. It wasn’t any easier a climb, but being able to see where we were going made it seem all worthwhile, especially looking down onto the fog filled valley below.
Change the plan if you recognise new facts
We made good time and decided it would be worth taking a detour to take in an additional mountain top. We deduced that there would be less people there than on the main hiking trail. The decision paid off with a summit for the two of us alone.
My experience would show that however good your plan for entering new markets is, you probably need to make adjustments along the way when you learn new facts.
Act fast and decisively if conditions change for the worse
Whilst having lunch at our final summit, we observed that the fog was starting to move higher. We finished our food and immediately set off back towards the car. About a km before reaching the car park, swirling fog enveloped us and an ice-cold wind had us digging in our rucksacks for jackets. Lucky that we set off so early in the morning and headed down the mountain when we did.
So what’s the connection to entering new markets?
Why am I relating the tale of my bank holiday? Well, the skills you use for planning a hike in changeable weather conditions are similar to entering into new markets.
Without preparation we would have failed before we had even set out!
Setting out from the car, it was hard but we stuck with our systems & trusted that the process would work. It would have been easy to give up at this stage, believing that our goal wasn’t worth the effort needed to achieve it, or that we wouldn’t be able to find our way in the weather conditions.
Later, with the first planned milestone in sight, we pivoted to achieve an additional worthwhile stretch target. This meant we had to amend our timing plan accordingly based on what we learned along the trail. (We wanted to ensure we could avoid any crowds.) It proved to be a highlight of the day. At the same time, we kept our original targets in mind, just taking a different route to achieving them.
We took a moment to celebrate our achievements, but also recognised that conditions were about to change fast. Consequently, we took fast action to head down from an exposed mountain top before things could get dangerous.
- the necessary skills & routines
- flexibility when conditions changed
- close monitoring of the situation
- carefully planned timing
These practices enabled us to succeed in our plan for a great day out. Just like in business when entering new markets, these elements were essential to the day’s success… and of course, it helped that we had a little luck.