Wow, I have gone fly fishing a lot this year already. My typical day has been: get up at 6am or earlier, crank emails and important action items, then fish from 8-11, and finally back to work until 6. It's been busy, but very refreshing. Lots of people came up to fish this year, including a few employees and even a client. It's been a blast. Here are the business lessons I have learned from the river this year.
Change position on prospects
During the salmon fly hatch this year, I saw a nice brown trout rising in a tough spot. I was throwing incredibly long casts to him knowing that even if he ate it I would never set the hook in time. I repositioned myself to be closer, made a perfect cast, and hooked him right away.
Business lesson: Sometimes you need to reposition your approach to prospects, clients, employees, vendors, and the like.
Tough customers can lengthen sales cycle
Really tough fish need both patience and an experienced angler to seal the deal. If you don't fish, you probably don't know that really big fish tend to dominate the river and get the best spots. Since they have the best spots, they are often difficult to catch. I have heard of anglers going to the same spot for days on end, trying to catch "the big one." The glory stories of them finally getting it done are told over beers at the bar or coffee at the fly shop.
Business lesson: Really tough customers may require that you lengthen your sales cycle. However, patience, persistence, and expertise will often yield you the big sale.
Things don't always go as planned
Hmm, let's talk about some of my floats this year. My 3-day guided trip on the Deschutes turned into a day and a half when we had to call life flight for one of the guides. My 2-day guided tour on the Missouri was cancelled when our guide had a heart attack on the boat ramp the day prior. Floating down the Flathead one day, we were flagged over to evacuate a person having a diabetic reaction (I'm not making this up; luck has not been on my side this year).
Business lesson: Although you start each day, week, month, and year with a plan, you have to be ready to adapt to what actually happens in order to be successful.
Consistency pays off
I always catch the best day of any insect hatch on Rock Creek because I am consistent. The spruce moth hatch is going right now and I have been out there since the beginning... every day... from 8-11. I know at some point I'm going to be there at the ideal time.
Business lesson: Consistency pays off. Staying consistent in networking, deliverables, and your day-to-day pays off. But it does not require 12 hour days. Notice that I only fish from 8-11. That is because I know this window will have the highest chance of success, but it won't take up my entire day. In other words, stay consistent but also efficient.
Good mentors are valuable
Our operations manager came up to visit me in early July. We ended up floating the Blackfoot for 2 days and I did my best to teach Alex how to catch fish. Alex is very process-oriented and inquisitive, so he made a great person to try and teach fly fishing. When he missed a fish or lost one, he wanted to know why. I talked him through it and in the end he had a good couple of days (except those two big ones you lost bud!). Live and learn.
Business lesson: A good mentor can be invaluable to you as a business owner. Don't be afraid to ask someone to be your mentor; you might be surprised at how willing people can be to help.
We all have bad days
There are the days when I wonder what the heck I am doing out on the river. The fishing clearly stinks, I'm getting tangled, and I'm questioning whether I'm even having fun anymore. I typically walk home on these days mumbling to myself that the past few hours were a complete waste of time. Then, for some reason, the next morning I go fishing again. I can't really explain it but I just love it.
Business lesson: Of course you are going to have bad days. However, if you truly love what you do, you will forget them and show up the next morning ready to work.
Remember the one that got away
Every fisherman can vividly remember the big one that got away. Yet they can't remember all of the fish they have caught with that same clarity. The following excerpt from the movie Rounders really nails this concept:
In "Confessions of a Winning Poker Player," Jack King said, "Few players recall big pots they have won, strange as it seems, but every player can remember with remarkable accuracy the outstanding tough beats of his career." It seems true to me, cause walking in here, I can hardly remember how I built my bankroll, but I can't stop thinking of how I lost it.
Business lesson: We all blow sales, we all lose customers, we all lose employees. Don't put too much emphasis on the negative things going on in your business; instead, focus on all the good things happening.
Tight lines. See you on the river, but stay out of my holes!