This August, my husband and I embarked on a four-day hike through the Grand Canyon.
It was a daunting journey at first. Some friends and family thought we were out of our minds choosing to hike through America’s riskiest national park terrain, that’s responsible for over 750 deaths over the last century, during the hottest time of the year (with temperatures reaching 130˚F).
The risks and challenges are very real, but our minds were set on embarking on this journey and becoming one of the few in this world who have accomplished it successfully.
So how did we do it? And what can entrepreneurs learn from our experience that can be applied to business and advertising?
1. Keep your eyes on the prize, not the challenges!
While we recognized that there would be countless challenges that we would experience, we didn’t make that our focus. If we focused on the death rates, potential injuries, and health risks associated with the Grand Canyon, we would have never booked our tickets in the first place. We simply focused on the excitement of the expedition and a successful outcome – that was the only option in our minds.
Lesson #1 for Entrepreneurs: Successful entrepreneurs have very optimistic and goal-oriented mindsets. Once you set your goal, get laser-focused. You make SUCCESS your ONLY option!
2. Recognize the risks, and prepare to get through them or avoid them.
While we were laser-focused on our goal to make it through the Grand Canyon, we did do our preliminary research to understand what we needed to do to prepare so that when challenges arise, we could push through them smoothly and effortlessly. That involved preparing for the heat and gaining muscle endurance for the steep declines and inclines of the canyon. Our training included long hikes up and down hills with 30-40 pound backpacks, and climbing and descending staircases over 100 storeys to get our muscles ready for the steep descent into the canyon and the climb out. We bought all the necessary clothing, gear, and accessories advised by our tour group to prepare for the temperature and hiking conditions.
I’ll be the first to admit, I would have been ill-prepared physically and I would have packed the wrong clothing if I hadn’t read the training tips and packing list provided by our tour group and others who had already conquered this journey.
Lesson #2 for Entrepreneurs: While you focus on your end goal and know your business, product, and services better than anyone, there are countless businesses that have started before you. Take the time to study some that are similar to yours in products, services or business model.
Learn about how they made it! Learn how they dealt with challenges that arose, and prepare for those possibilities in advance. Learn tips and tricks to avoid unnecessary struggles and be prepared to get through both common and uncommon challenges that may arise.
3. Hire an experienced guide to get you to your goal with a higher and faster chance of success.
Could we have done this hike on our own without an experienced tour guide? Technically speaking, yes; but the risks, challenges and potential failures would have been much greater. We choose to go with one of the most reputable Grand Canyon tour companies, The Wildland Trekking Company.
Wildland Trekking has over 10,000 people join their tours annually all over the world. They are a top-rated company with exceptional certified guides that do the Grand Canyon hike on a regular basis. They understand everything about the canyon: its history, beauty, terrain, animals, weather conditions, paths, and challenges.
They’ve already experienced successes and failures in so many ways at every point of the canyon, so their guidance was reassuring. They held our hand, informed us, and guided us every step of the way, so that we could envision what was up ahead and how to get through each phase of the hike successfully.
This included everything from advising us on what to pack (or remove from our backpacks to make them lighter), to taping up hot spots on toes (before they become blisters), to nourishing us with delicious and nutritious meals that would give us the strength and energy to get us through the strenuous daily hikes, to, most importantly, timing our early morning treks to start between 5:00 am to 6:00 am (meaning wake up times between 3:30 am to 4:30 am to pack up camp and eat breakfast) so that we could hike in the shade as much as possible instead of burning up in the sun at over 130˚F departures where your brain can literally melt.
When we experienced challenges -like on our first day, when I started walking funny a few hours into our descent due to knee pain from the strenuous downhill journey – our guide, Michael Whichman, advised me to take three Advils (I would have only taken two). When that didn’t relieve the pain enough, he literally lightened my load by taking five pounds out of my bag and transferred it into his. This made a significant difference on my knees and got me through the last portions of the first-day hike, as well as the entire second day, while we were still descending.
In addition to that, Michael advised us to put up our legs during the night to get our blood circulating into our joints to minimize lactic acid build-up. I made sure to follow his instructions diligently that night and every night thereafter, raising my legs and doing yoga stretches in my tent to ease any tension I was feeling. (I am happy to report that I felt minimal aches for the last two days of the hike, and no muscle tension at all after the hike was over!)
His guidance and experience made the journey safe and enjoyable. I have to admit, I listened to almost all of his advice. I wish I had listened more to what items I could have unpacked before our journey. There were items I did not need and could have dropped my pack weight. Every pound you remove makes the journey all the more bearable…Sometimes we just need to do things our own way to learn our lessons for next time.
Lesson #3 for Entrepreneurs: You can go it alone and experience all your own failures and lessons. If you’re determined enough and have your eye on the prize, you’ll probably make it through and reach your goal – but it may take a lot longer and it will likely be a much more painful and challenging journey. It’s often worth hiring a business consultant or marketing expert that has business or advertising experience if that’s not your core specialty.
They have the knowledge and experience of growing businesses and encountering challenges, overcoming them, or completely avoiding them. They also have seen so many scenarios arise, that even if new challenges creep up, they can often devise on an alternative plan that can get you back on track faster and more successfully than you could on your own.
When our guide was caught off guard by a hissing pink rattlesnake on our trail, he jumped back instinctively, and after getting over the immediate shock, he warned us of the danger ahead and swiftly guided us on a detour where the rattlesnake could not see or harm us.
A reputable and reliable professional cannot promise you that you will not encounter risks, bumps, or unexpected surprises on the road ahead. But they can certainly make you aware of the risks and help you get through the challenges unscathed. And when those unwelcome surprises occur, they can smartly devise a successful Plan B faster than you can.
So do your research and find the right business guide or marketing agency to get you to your goal faster and better than doing it alone.
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