Today, you often hear success stories that involve a fast-paced start-up or a quick change of direction to adapt to the evolving marketplace. And while it’s true that the first to the finish line wins big in the game of business, speed isn’t always the best choice.
Take this tale of two retailers as an example of why jumping ahead is not always the best course of action. It illustrates why often the most important skill in business is patience and how speed and agility can lead to disastrous decisions.
You see, retailer one did exactly that. In a rush to open her store, she picked what she thought was the ideal location, not realizing it was exactly the opposite: no-traffic, dead-end retail nightmare. On paper, it was perfect: located close to her exact target market.
The only catch: it was on a busy thoroughfare that no one stopped at. Despite her proximity to the wealthiest neighborhood, the exact audience for her boutique store, she struggled to stay above water in those critical first years. The only thing that saved her business: moving to a new location.
Retailer two took a much different path. Instead of rushing to open, she took her time waiting for the perfect location to open up. She knew exactly what she was looking for: a blend of affordability and prime location to attract the eclectic urbanites who flocked to their brand.
A tall order, but the wait paid off! The extension of their successful first store opened after an extended renovation. Because she waited for a location that fit well within her budget, she had the luxury of getting the new location exactly right before opening, important for making a favorable first impression.
So what’s the lesson, besides choose your location wisely? Be patient!
How to Practice the Business Virtue of Patience
Decide Slow to Act Fast – Define exactly what you need to move forward. Use realistic parameters to outline your criteria and stick within that framework. Knowing what you are looking for in terms of a partnership, location or even an employee means that when that serendipitous day comes along, you can act quickly.
No Time Limits – Don’t place time limits on making a strategic direction. Wait for the right time, right opportunity, right market conditions to make your move. Forcing a decision will inevitably mean compromising on one or more of your criteria. Remember, no decision is better than a bad decision.
Focus on Long Term Sustainability – Never sacrifice long-term sustainability for short-term gain. Like in the story of retailer two, long-term sustainability meant finding an affordable location that could withstand a few slow months and remain profitable. The short-term decision to open in an inferior or expensive location would have cost her in the long run.