An Unsinkable Business?

This weekend I was watching some TV shows about nautical history and two of the boats they talked about were the Titanic and Bismark, both of whom were called by titles like “unsinkable” and “impenetrable.”  It got me thinking about our businesses and what we believe about them.  Do we believe we’re infallible? Do we expect to be or feel required to be perfect? Do we think we’re untouchable?  If so I believe we’re setting ourselves up for a hard fall someday, giving people possibly unrealistic expectations about us, and setting us up for extra and unnecessary criticism if and when we do fail (no matter how large or small the fail was).  Instead of trying to live up to these demanding titles, I believe we should focus instead on being known for things like our customer attention, great products and/or services, humility and continual improvement.

Do I think the outcome of the Titanic would have been different if it wasn’t billed as unsinkable?  Not necessarily, the same decisions might have been made regardless and nature does what it pleases without any input from us.  The loss of life isn’t any less or more tragic because the ship was called unsinkable either.  It’s still an incredible tragedy and reminder of how important it is to treasure your life.

This is one of the reasons I don’t like the effort that people put into going “viral” with their businesses. It’s often not achievable, and even if it is achieved they can’t replicate the results later, the results only last for so long and they’re known as one-hit-wonders in the business world.  It’s great to get a lot of attention for a worthy cause or be able to get some very helpful or necessary products in front of lots of people.  But of all the things that have “gone viral” the only one I can name off the top of my head is the Ice Bucket Challenge.

So with the holidays and the end of the year coming up I encourage you to consider if going for “the big win” is really what you want to do and what’s best for your business and customers.  Think about your long and short term goals and make sure that the effort you may put into going for the big win is really worth it and if you really think you’ll be “that guy” and catch the eye of a billionaire who wants to buy you out or celebrity that wants to promote you to all their fans.  If not, maybe there’s a better way you can use the time, money and effort you were going to put into becoming the next big thing.

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