Heading Into the Wind

posted by Administrator on 06/19/2023 in Blog Posts  | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,
By Tom Cramer


When the commander of an aircraft carrier gets the order to launch his planes, he immediately checks with his navigator to determine his heading. He then turns his ship so that he is fully heading into the wind so that his pilots will have the best chance for a successful launch.

The View from the Cockpit

In one of our earlier posts, we spoke of looking at your position as sitting in the cockpit. It is worth returning to that aviation metaphor to review the mindset of flying off into the wind. It seems today that all the news talks about increasing headwinds making it difficult to run and grow any business, especially an SMB. Such unrelenting news can wear us down and be a source of discouragement.

Overcoming and Outshining

If one took the time to search for the business news for the past few decades, it would quickly become apparent that there is always a great number of negative indicators. Wars, inflation, union strife, political deadlocks, supply problems, ad Infinitum are the standard, not the exception. It seems the media and our competitors are constantly providing new reasons to fail, excuses for giving up, and rationales for not seeking to do our best.

Even back in the days of Henry Ford, now a century past, this quintessential founder and entrepreneur noted, “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”

If we contemplate this reality, it gives us the opportunity to not only get lift from those headwinds, but to use them for advantage against our competitors.

Now, this is not presented as a mere positive thinking lecture or a rah-rah talk. On the other hand, it is important to remember the simple fact: When we choose the role of leadership by starting, running, and growing any size business, we are signing on for a marathon with its share of Heartbreak Hills.

It is true that we are in an era of ever-more rapid changes and ever more brutal competition in business. That, however, is partly because it is the best time ever for starting and growing a business thanks to those changes. That makes it easier for younger companies to challenge your turf and create more head winds.

The other side of that coin is that you have experience, traction in your market space, a functioning team, and loyal customers.

Using these as your “wings”, you can fly higher than the competition that does not respond to these challenges properly or is just figuring out how to fly.

This gives you the opportunity to welcome and overcome challenges that are hindering your less- capable competition and to show why you are the preferred choice in your market segment over some newcomers.

Putting Headwinds to Work

While it is tempting to hear the latest “bad news” and hang your head, stop and think about how your competitor is reacting. Likewise, realize that your customers will be looking for strong and aggressive vendors and partners when the going gets tough.

Digest each piece of information and think it through. Call your team together and rather than asking,
“OMG, how do we survive this?” ask instead:

  •  What competitive opportunities are we seeing to outshine the responses of our competitors?
  • What marketing opportunities are presented to contact our best customers and build loyalty by
    letting them know we are in charge of our destiny and are there for them?
  • Where can we shore up our systems, procedures, and our finances to ensure this new challenge
    is manageable, and do so better than our competitors?
  • How do we give assurance to all our team members and our Seven Customers that overcoming
    challenges and turning them to our advantage is part of our corporate culture?

Those are, of course, imposing questions. This is where leaders shine over managers, and where good companies become great ones.