Running a business has similar challenges to ocean racing!

I was fortunate enough to spend time in Australia and during that time I got to watch the start of the 2015 Rolex Sydney to Hobart yacht race. The race is one of three iconic offshore yacht race and it’s one of the toughest sailing races in the world, covering 628 miles, normally over two to three days. Last year’s race was arguably one of the toughest for a long time, with 32 out of 108 boats having to retire due to storm damage. The boats experienced winds of over forty knots, which is something that I definitely would not want to gain experience. I am definitely a warm weather sailor!

Watching the race, made me think about the similarities between sailing and running your own business.

Firstly, you have to have a clear focus on what you want to achieve or where you need to go. Once you have this in mind the next job is to ensure you have the right equipment and the right team on board to enable you to achieve this objective. Finding the right team is critical. Team members have to have the skills to do the role, a thorough understanding of the task in hand, and, importantly, the motivation to want to achieve a common goal.

You need to have a clearly planned destination. However, you also need to understand that there isn’t always a direct route to achieving your goals. Following the race tracker, the boats didn’t take a straight route, going left, right and even backwards, to try to find the best wind to get them to their goal (Hobart).

Finally, whilst you need to have a time frame in mind, there needs to be a certain amount of flexibility as we all know we can’t guarantee having a consistent amount of forward movement all the time. During the race, the yacht’s were battered by strong winds during the first night of the race but then as the wind change they became becalmed and bobbed around with little or no forward movement for the next few hours.

And what about the boats that didn’t make it to Hobart this year? They will be back next year as we all know that despite having a great team, and knowing exactly where you want to go, we don’t always achieve our goals the first time round and so we need to learn from our mistakes and use that knowledge and always remember to keep trying.

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