12 Jun 2018, 09:48 — 4 min read
Summary: Comparing swimming to entrepreneurship has yielded interesting insights and similarities for Anirudh Gupta. Read on to find out what lessons entrepreneurs can draw from swimming.
Many of us become entrepreneurs to make a splash in the business world. Over a period of time we understand that entrepreneurship is about making a ‘proposition’ come to life.
I recently restarted swimming a couple of months back. I found that certain lessons from this sport echoed the principles of entrepreneurship. These are:
1. Being early is an advantage: If one reaches the pool at 6:30am one will find a relatively empty pool with no disturbances. Swimming thus becomes easier and more enjoyable. The same is true of business. In any sphere of life, if one is early, things become easier and one has a definite advantage. In business terms you would call it first-mover advantage. Look around, most leading brands were the first movers in their spheres.
2. Focus on niche strength: For a novice swimmer, jumping right away without knowing the depth of the pool is risky. Similarly, as a business owner, initially you must focus on your niche strength and gradually diversify based on your learnings and experience.
Eg: A client of ours started a consumer business but didn’t have the knowledge or bandwidth to execute it. After a couple of years he was compelled to exit this business. This was painful both from an organisational and returns point of view.
3. Adapt quickly: If one doesn’t learn to ‘swim’ in the choppy seas of the business world, there is struggle. If one doesn’t connect the dots fast enough, one may find that one’s organisation is sinking. This is relevant especially for younger companies. One of the ways to beat the learning curve is to learn from peers.
4. Review goals: Some time ago, I crossed 15 laps a day. Then, I ramped up to 17 and so on . Now, I do 25 laps. The idea is never to stay complacent and find ways of creating greater value whether it is managerial, administrative or business related.
Once one reaches a threshold in a quarter one can intensify efforts to achieve a higher goal. This keeps one moving. There is an interesting story. A Japanese family were finding that the fish in a pool were not of good enough quality. They introduced a small shark in the pool. The quality of fish got better although a few fish got eaten up.
In which area of your business do you want to introduce a small shark? Think!
5. Take the dive: On one occasion, I was almost ready to take a dive. However the coach thought I was being a little slow. He pushed me into the water. Needless to say, water entered my nose. However, from that incident, I learned the importance of acting fast. In business one often has to dive into a new project, strategy or strategic partnership. The key is to take decisive action.
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Posted byAnirudh Anand Gupta
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