This weekend saw my return to my bike riding in the Adelaide Hills.  After a stint in hospital, followed by a cold and wet winter, the thought of getting wet and cold in the hills over the last few months has not been as attractive as sitting beside an open fire with a bold Barossa Shiraz and a ripe Double Brie from King Island.  Who can blame me for that?

But today was different – forecasted 18 degrees, the sun breaking through the all familiar clouds and something in the air indicating that Spring was not too far away.  This was too good an opportunity to ride on the flats today and the imposing hills behind my house, provided too great a temptation to let pass.  However, as my Strava app so kindly reminded me, it had been 4-months since I attempted this ride – doesn’t time fly when you’re keeping warm!  But I thought that I would be fine, having been hiking in my local conservation park, enjoying some flat riding and continuing my twice-a-week kickboxing for the last few months.  In my mind, today would be a challenge, but not that hard; I was still active after all.

As my heart rate peaked at 182bpm on an 11% gradient, and two other cyclists went sailing past me, boasting a cheerful demeanour in their greeting, I was quickly reminded that I had let my initial illness and the following weather pattern, determine my cycling fate over the last few months. I had done a great job in hunkering down for winter with the unrealistic expectation that the fitness work I had been doing, would be enough to get me back on those hill climbs when I was ready, and just start where I left off in March.  Why wouldn’t it?

Anyway, the resulting ride was great fun, but hard, and once the top of the hill was conquered, there was only one more thing to do – ready myself for the decline!  It was great fun and provided an important reminder how lucky I am to have this in my ‘backyard’ and that I should do this more often.  In the end I enjoyed the ride, but I acknowledge it was harder than it needed to be.  I grabbed a couple of Strava PB’s to keep it interesting, and finished with a solid average heart rate to keep that winter flab in check.  I think I am back mentally and very much looking forward physically to the pending Spring riding!  But why did I let this happen in the first place and what could I have done to prevent this at all?

Many businesses I have been exposed to in my career are ones easily influenced by seasonal changes in weather, school holidays, the economy and politics.  Elections as we all know, seem to have that ‘seasonal type effect’ on sales and consumer confidence, as does the phasing of the Easter long weekend in relation to school holidays – crazy I know, but it’s true!  Similarly, many businesses who sell and produce seasonal products, set their sales planning cycles that rely on better than average Spring and Summer periods with the knowledge and expectation that the Autumn and Winter to follow ‘only need to match last year’ to hit the full year sales result. 

How many times have you heard, or been heard to say, “so long as we hit Summer, the rest will take care of itself”, or comments to that effect.  Don’t get me wrong, in many cases, this formula works well when all the ducks line up and everything works-to-plan. But it all goes horribly wrong when the weather doesn’t deliver as planned, and the ensuing pressure placed on sales teams to deliver results in the remaining periods, is far too great for good quality long term results to follow, let alone good engagement of the teams doing the work.

If this sounds all too familiar, or if it’s something you don’t like the sound of, then how can you prevent this happening to your business or the business you work in?   How can you prepare yourself and your team to bounce out of Winter and shake off the hunkered down attitude that has crept in?  How can you ready your team for the upcoming season of sun and post-election confidence to ensure that everything you have thought about doing or built a plan around, can be executed with skill and confidence? 

The answer is really simple – plan now so you can Anticipate the Climb before it arrives!

If, like me, your business has been ‘off the bike’ for winter with the expectation that you can just get back and resume where you left off when the sun is shining again, your opportunity to change your approach is now.  You don’t want to be like me and get caught out on a steep hill with a maximum heart rate, and have your competition sailing past you with a friendly smile.  Once you’re out of breath on a steep hill and your heart can’t beat any faster, any desire to be better than you are is simply that, a desire!  Any desire to match or beat your competition is just a dream….

With good quality plans in place and a structured approach to getting business ready for the upcoming season, you and your team will experience results and engagement potentially never experienced before.  With a team skilled up and ready to face the competition head on, your business will be in the best shape possible to execute your plans for when the sun does come out.

At Two Steps Forward Consulting, we partner with you to develop sales strategies to match your goals, then create the skills to build the team you need to deliver successful outcomes.  With business and leadership coaching at the heart of our business, we work with you to understand your business, your goals and your challenges and help you and your business be the best it can be!

If this sounds like something you’re keen to achieve, or know someone who might, drop me a line to find out how your business can get ready to anticipate the hill climbs before the sun starts to shine again!


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