Avoiding the Turtle Trap When Scaling Up Your Business

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On March 20, 2020

slow decision makingSlow Decision Making Can Cripple a Scaling Company

Turtles and tortoises are generally not known for their fast moves. There are, of course, exceptions—such as Diego, the giant tortoise, whose “fast moves” enabled him to propagate so furiously that he has been credited with saving his entire species from extinction. Most turtles and tortoises, however, move slowly. Moving slowly is OK if you’re a turtle. It’s not a good thing when you’re supposed to be making decisions for a company that’s trying to scale up. Slow decision making (the turtle trap) can cripple a scaling company.

The Need to be Nimble

Constant, radical change is a dominant characteristic of our current business environment. We repeatedly hear stories about companies that disrupt entire industries and change the way business is done. They don’t do that by making slow, small changes. Instead, they do it through transformation—making significant vital changes to the way they operate. These businesses are aware of what’s going on around them and they make specific changes in their thinking and their actions to take advantage of changes in the market space. They are nimble enough to adapt.

Quick Doesn’t Mean Hasty

It’s important to understand that being quick in business doesn’t mean being hasty. Quick business thinking should never be a knee-jerk reaction. The wrong kind of speed can kill your business. Transforming your business needs to come from careful and regular observation of the market—and your own business activities (including your vision, your strategy, your execution, your hiring practices, and your management of cash).

Slow is Only Part of the Problem

Not only do turtles move slowly, but they exhibit another behavior that works well for them—but can be a business-killer. When turtles perceive a threat, they withdraw into their shells and wait things out. While that may be a good defense mechanism for a turtle, it’s a lousy course of action for a business.

Businesses need to be aware of the threats to their existence. That’s why business coaches urge their clients to do a SWOT (Strength/Weakness/Opportunity/Threat) analysis regularly. Of course, simply identifying your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats isn’t enough. You need to come up with concrete plans and strategies that enable you to maximize your strengths and take advantage of your opportunities. And you need to work on specific steps to overcome your weaknesses and eliminate (or at least mitigate) threats to your business.

Another Tool

By the way, although I do use SWOT analysis with clients, I also use another tool developed by Verne Harnish called SWT that requires business people to look at Strengths, Weaknesses, and Trends so that they can better respond to the continual changes happening in their industry and markets.

You don’t want to fall into the trap of changing direction all the time. You don’t want your business to be a member of “The Idea of the Month Club.”  On the other hand, you need to put yourself in a position in which you can respond and make decisions quickly based on sound information and best practices.

Avoid the turtle trap advice from a business coachThe “turtle traps” of dangerously slow decision making and retreating into your shell are just a couple of the snares that scaling businesses face. I’d invite you to download our free How to Avoid the Growth Traps eBook so that you can learn about other common traps that scaling companies face as they transform themselves to meet the demands of our constantly-changing business environment.





Image by David Mark from Pixabay