Rapid business growth isn’t as realistic as it once was. This article in Harvard Business Review back in October of 2020 explains why in their article “Start-ups. It’s time to think like camels instead of unicorns”.
Having ridden a camel in Turkey 4 years ago the headline and theme of the article immediately grabbed my attention, although of course it turned out to be nothing to do with actually riding camels.
“Raising unicorns” is a colloquial reference to startups in Silicon Valley worth over a billion dollars. Achieving unicorn status is done through rapid business growth, however this only works in the most optimal conditions.
Which of course couldn’t be used to describe the current situation.
The “current truths” are less unicorn, and more camel. Here are some camel strengths you should be adopting if you’re an entrepreneur struggling with business growth in today’s climate.
Camels are resilient.
They have a slow metabolism, which allows them to go weeks without food and water, so they can survive the longest droughts without dying of thirst.
Camels are experts at adaptation.
That means they can survive in conditions that would kill other animals — from the blistering heat of the desert to the freezing cold of Siberia.
The pandemic is changing the way we work and live — if you want to survive the new normal, you need to be able to adapt too.
In recent years, many of us embraced the “unicorn” mindset: hustling at all costs to disrupt our respective industries for rapid business growth. But during a global pandemic, and a new war in Europe, rapid growth isn’t as realistic as it once was. That growth-at-all costs perspective can only occur in the strongest economies — and right now, it comes with significant risk.
It’s time for entrepreneurs to forget about unicorns and start behaving more like camels. Embrace the resilience and adaptability that come with slow, steady, considered growth. It might not be as exciting — and opting out of risk-taking isn’t easy — but we’ll only survive with a weather-proof approach.
I love these business metaphors and find I can almost always use the lesson in them. If you do too, and you feel like a chin wag, give me a call. Always happy to chat!