No this is not the disastrous economic plan of Chairman Mao. The Great Leap Forward was the moment in englishbiz when we decided to go from one school to three in the span of a year. This was our big aggressive move.
The thing about big aggressive moves is that they either work out great, or you crash and burn to a loud chorus of people laughing at you and a few “sympathetic” voices saying, “I told you so….”.
The great thing about doing this business with my wife, is that although we are from different countries, different cultures, different languages, and different tastes in music (she does not like AC/DC–how can this be?), we are very similar in our capacity for risk. We don’t mind risk at all, especially when we are banking on what we can do together.
I have to say, and this is to anyone who is serious about getting a business together, you really need to have a “home team”. It is really important that you and your partner in life are on the same page when it comes to having a business. There are going to be tremendously lean and hard and difficult times, and unless you share a common point of view, it might be more than your relationship can bear. For us, everything worked out okay, because we did not mind putting everything up for the second time and push our company forward.
I think that the reason we could do it is because we had two things going for us. The first was that we were completely committed to our mission of making the best English language program available in Kagawa. We demanded of ourselves to create the the number one school. We were going to make the most effective, best supported, most creative, best researched, and most organized language school around. The second was that we would be relentless in moving forward and in continually improving and adding to what we had made so far. An old friend of mine often uses the quote, “You must move forward and live like your hair is on fire.” If you have seen a recent photo of me, most of mine has burned off.
The Great Leap Forward had us opening up two schools simultaneously. We needed to research carefully for location and proximity to our competition and to the sources of our clients. We did all the homework we needed to, and there was a lot. In the end we were left with a decision to make. After all the careful meticulous calculations, wringing of hands, and plans drawn out on paper, we had to decide to leap forward, or stay put.
We made the leap.
As we were in the air, floating, limbs akimbo, we were flailing towards the unseen other side of the chasm of risk. Imagine our surprise when the landing was smooth, our feet in running position from the start, and then how we could effortlessly move forward at full speed.
Risk is part of everything, I guess. You make the best informed decision you can, but there is always an element of things not working out. Along the way we have had some failures too, and some things did not work out as planned. But if we were to do it all over again, even despite the long trail of hardship and going without, I don’t think we would blink.
The other thing is that when you “land on the other side” you are now in unfamiliar territory. There is a hill right in front of you, a new momentum is needed, and it is easy to fall back towards the precipice you just cleared. Now is a time for prudent thought, and now since you are in a place you could not possibly imagine, you need help. Time to pick up the phone and decide if you are going to “go pro” or “stay in the minor league”.
Next blog: Go Big or…. well, you don’t really have to “go home”, do you?
Thanks for coming by! More blogs to follow. I promise!