Business is Like Fishing

By Dan Boudreau

I love fishing. I enjoy it whether or not I catch fish. A good catch makes the fishing trip more than just a visit – it makes it a successful fishing trip. I prefer to catch fish. A memorable fishing adventure begins with a good plan.

What makes a fishing trip successful? For starters you need to gear up. You need to:

* know the right spot to fish,

* have the right vehicles to get to the right spot,

* use the right bait to attract the right fish to take the hook,

* know how to set the hook, and

* how to play and land the fish.

Do all these things properly, and you will have a great fishing trip.

A successful fishing trip begins long before the first cast. Being at the right place at the right time might look fortuitous to the onlooker, but it’s usually the result of research and planning. Someone has taken the time to learn about the fish; habits, patterns, likes and dislikes. It is also critical to know the waterway and have a roadmap to guide you to the spot. You also want to understand weather patterns and have backup plans to deal safely with accidents or disasters.

In getting equipped for a great fishing trip, you will want to prepare for all possible situations. You will need survival gear, fishing equipment and the suitable vehicles to get to the right location. Then there’s the fishing gear – rod and reel, the tackle box, line, lures, weights. If you’re camping you will have a whole other range of concerns and equipment to attend to.

You will need to be aware of the other fishermen vying for the same fish as you are. Too many competitors will deplete the supply of fish and you might find yourself working much harder than you want. A certain amount of competition is healthy, too much is not. If your business is competing with too many others, you will need to work much harder to capture your share of the market. If you find yourself surrounded by a throng of hungry fishermen and no fish, it might be time to pack up and move to a new location. If you find yourself engulfed by competitor advertising and your sales lagging it may be time to reposition your business.

Success is only possible in both fishing and business by choosing the right location. Ideally you want to place yourself on the bank of a river where the current compels the fish to swim within a few feet of you. Fishing where there are no fish is like trying to sell goods where there are no customers. In business, you must locate yourself where customers can see you and where they can stop to shop. You can do everything else perfectly, but if you are in the wrong place customers and fish won’t even know you’re in the game.

You can pick the right location and do many things well, but if you don’t present the right tackle the customers will pass you by. As the fish swim through your location, something has to catch their interest and entice them to pause long enough to inspect your offering. It might be some sort of bait or a shiny lure, or a combination of the two. The bait can be real food; the lure might look like food. The function of your presentation is to get the fish to stop and bite. In business, you must find ways to catch your customers’ interest and slow them down long enough to nibble on your lure.

Once a fish bites you need to set the hook and reel ’em in. If you blow this part of the process, the fish gets away and isn’t likely to take your bait again for a long time. I don’t know if fish talk to each other, but customers definitely do. Make sure each encounter is positive. Depending on the type of fish and your skill set, you might have to play a few fish and customers before actually landing one.

You can play the fish and bring it to the water’s edge, but your job is still not done. Many great fish are lost at the point of landing. Part of the trick to a successful landing is to remain calm so as not to spook the fish. With customers you will need to be attentive to the last drop, listening for objections, answering questions, focussing on the benefits. It is also critical to know when your catch is complete, and how to stop selling and start bagging.

Like fishing, your business adventure should begin with a plan. In planning your business you will:

* Prepare yourself to manage and operate your business

* Learn what’s working for your competitors

* Research and compare different locations

* Develop and fine tune your presentation

Planning will take you to a certain point and then it’s time to get out into the current and fish. Once in business you will have plenty of opportunities to learn the business trade skills of attracting, engaging and keeping customers.

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