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What shark diving taught me about business

I wholeheartedly believe that business and shark diving are essentially the same thing. Both are exciting. Both have their fair share of risk. Both require you to be on your A-game all of the time.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You can’t die in business. Well, I tend to disagree. Yes, you can if you don’t take care of your physical and mental health. Business can be pretty dangerous.

A decade ago I had the wonderful opportunity to go on my first-ever shark dive. I fell in love with it. The euphoria. The adrenaline. I loved it so much that I bought a shark diving business shortly after my first dive.

With that said, I’ve come to feel like shark diving and running a business are the same thing. At least, the same four rules apply to both things. Which is peculiar.

Here’s what shark diving taught me about business.

Always be prepared for the unexpected

In the world of business anything can happen. You can prepare quarterly or yearly plans, but life has a funny thing about completely ignoring what you’ve planned for and throwing you off-course.

That’s when a business plan is boiled down to just words and nothing more. That’s what you have to be prepared for — the unexpected.

It’s the exact same thing when you’re in the cold waters with deadly beasts like sharks. They’re unpredictable, scary, and have a knack for throwing your plans off-course.

So, you have to plan for the things that you least believe can happen. A challenger brand coming in and swooping your customers right under your nose. A massive change in consumer behaviour. A world-wide pandemic. You never know.

Know what you’re dealing with

When you go in the shark-infested waters, you want to know what you’re dealing with. It’s the same with running a business.

Whether you’re launching a new service, expanding your operations in another country or continent, or optimising your day-to-day operations, you have to know what you’re dealing with.

That means doing the dirty work and researching the matter at hand. It also means going the extra mile to find the people you need to talk with to make things happen. It can be really hard, and you’ll have to be prepared to face the challenges; however, there’s very little room for error, unlike running a franchise, where you get a bit more room for failure.

There’s nothing wrong with backing down from a fight

People tend to accept backing down as a failure.

Well, it’s not. In business, you have to be extra smart with the fights you pick. There’s no glory in wasting time and money fighting for things that are not worth fighting for.

Know when to step aside and refocus your efforts into something more productive. It’s the same with shark diving. If the weather isn’t right, or you don’t feel okay proceeding with the dive, just don’t.

Always ask yourself: “What am I getting out of this?”. If the answer is not satisfactory to you, skip the fight.

Keep your eyes peeled

Shark diving requires you to have eyes on your back. You need to be on top of everything that’s going on around you, and that’s near impossible when you’re underwater.

Running a business is kind of the same. It requires you to be everywhere, see everything. And that’s hard.

You have to know the techniques and set in place the right processes that will allow you to monitor the correct data in order to make the right decisions at the right time. Whether you need to pivot a product, double down on performance marketing, or optimise your customer experience, you need to keep your eyes peeled even for the little things.

Final thoughts

I understand that business and shark diving is a slightly strange comparison, but I think you get my point.

It takes a lot to run a business, and it takes even more if you want to run a successful one. You have to go above and beyond while staying aware of your surroundings.

Remember to stay focused and know what you’re after with everything you do. If it feels like something isn’t your cup of tea, don’t feel afraid to back down.

Rune Sovndahl

Rune Sovndahl, is the co-founder of Fantastic Services – an international brand with 10+ years of experience that combines technological innovations with bespoke customer care to deliver services for the home, office and garden. Rune, who is Danish, moved to London 20
years ago to study for a BA (Hons) in Business Information Systems Design at South Bank University. Following completion of his degree, he was accepted onto a graduate programme with British Telecom. In 2003 he also established the European Young Professionals committee in London and was involved in its website’s creation as well as in the recruitment of more than 200 new members, also working for as Head of SEO before establishing Fantastic Service in 2009.

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