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Of Journeys and Destinations

We spent a good chunk of yesterday hiking around the peak areas of Mt. San Jacinto.  After riding the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway from the valley floor to 8500 feet, we hiked a 7 mile trip from the tram station to Wellman’s Divide, and back.  The total elevation gain was about 1600 feet, which made me feel good since it’s been a long time since I’ve done any significant hiking.

I love hiking for many reasons.  It’s quiet, it’s beautiful, and the journey is a metaphor for so many things we do in life.

Yesterday, on our way to Wellman’s Divide, the trip was divided up into a series of roughly one to one and half mile stretches, with direction markers here and there. At each step of the way, you can make a choice about whether to move forward or turn back, which we did several times yesterday.  The final climb to Wellman’s Divide was 900 feet of gain over a mile, and we weren’t sure we could make it.  We chose to make the Round Meadow stop (just before this climb) an evaluation of whether to move forward, or not.   Every hike is like this — a series of interim destinations, on the road to your final destination. 

Just like hiking, building a business is a process of mapping a series of achievable milestones and working through each one of them on the journey to the next phase.  At each milestone, you need to evaluate what you’ve achieved, and whether it’s enough to take you to the next phase. 

Conquering a market, one segment at a time, is the same.  You cannot take on a whole market at once, not unless you’re a giant company.  Entrepreneurs plan to dominate a market one segment at a time.

When we head out to hike, I always stop at the ranger desk.  I get a map, and look at the terrain and where the difficult parts will be so I can figure out the best route.  We bring plenty of water, and wear proper shoes.  Snacks, and food get packed too.  In other words, we’re prepared.  I guess it’s the boy scout in me. 

I am always amazed by the people who aren’t prepared, including the woman I saw hiking up the trail yesterday in stilletto shoes.  Her group had no water, and were dressed as if heading to an art museum.  They seemed to not realize that they were in a wilderness, hiking difficult terrain, and populated by wild animals, including four resident cougars.

Again, this is a perfect metaphor for business.  There are those who are prepared to survive the unexpected, with contingency plans worked out, and those who are not.  There are those who approach a market, fully conscious of their capabilities, and there are those who do not.  There are businesses that survive, and businesses that don’t.  That’s not to say that entrepreneurs shouldn’t take risks.  There is a difference, however, between choosing an understandable risk, and foolhardiness.

We made our destination, yesterday.  This photo is the view from Wellman’s Divide out over the desert valley.  It’s another HDR photograph, in my series of continuing experiments with HDR photography.  You can find other photographs from our trip yesterday online at http://www.flickr.com/photos/alecsaunders/tags/mtsanjacinto/

View from Wellman's Divide

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