I recently got to hang out with some old college buds down in Phoenix. As is often the case when we go to Phoenix in the winter/spring season, hiking was on the itinerary. The Valley of the Sun is littered with beautiful mountain peaks that have incredible vistas of the city and surrounding mountains.

Our first trek was recommended by our friends citing ease of access, beautiful peaks, moderate challenge and “the road less traveled.” We ascended a trail to summit a peak in one of the US’s largest municipal parks on a Saturday, and despite the beautiful mild weather, we did not encounter any other humans on the trail. It was delightful. The views were stunning. So much so that the hike itself seemed effortless and our encounter with nature was priceless.

Contrast that with a similar hike my wife and I went on two days later at one of the area’s most popular destinations – Camelback Mountain. Warned by our friends that it would likely be a zoo, it did not disappoint. They were spot on! Despite it being a Monday, the trail was littered with hundreds of people. The terrain was quite challenging, and arguably, many on the trail should not have been there.

The courtesies and etiquette normally observed on the trail (i.e., downhill hikers yield to those headed uphill) were absent, thus making the dissent and ascent even more challenging, especially in tight and sketchy climbing areas.

The hike itself was more dangerous as a result. And sadly, I allowed the distractions created by a mass of people, choked trails, annoying traffic etiquette, and stupid human pet tricks prevent me from enjoying the incredible scenery, beautiful panorama and God’s amazing creation.

I couldn’t help but think how similar this was to entrepreneurship and business. It made me think of the Blue Ocean Strategy featured in a book of the same title by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne. Blue Ocean is a challenge to navigate your business to a unique trail void of fierce head to head competition, intentionally embracing a strategy to migrate away from the cutthroat and blood infested waters of the red ocean.

As an owner, I remember times on both trails. I have better memories of the times spent in the “blue ocean” space of the market we had carved out. We were more focused, quick to say NO to distractions and opportunities that did not give us an optimal path to success AND we enjoyed the ride.

It’s no coincidence I’m flying Southwest Airlines to my next destination: one of the great examples of Blue Ocean Strategy successfully at work in any industry.

Are you enjoying the ascent?

Maybe it’s time to find a more open trail? Boldly pivot to a new realm of the market you serve that enables better margin and less pricing-centric competition? Innovate new products or refine existing services? Perhaps it will cost you revenue, people, profit and be difficult in the short run. In the long run, it could massively improve your cash flow, impact, enjoyment and success.

Perhaps you need some fellow sojourners to help find the trail less traveled and inspire new heights.

Click HERE to be considered for a team of CEO Sherpa’s.

Drew Hiss
Post by Drew Hiss
April 18, 2019
Drew Hiss launched his outsourced payroll and HR technology solutions company, Checkdate Solutions, in 1994. The entrepreneurial venture was a classic bootstrap start-up whose launch plan underestimated capital needs and ramp up time by significant multiples. The adventure predictably included scrapping for cash, overhauling the business model, rebranding, refocusing, redirecting resources, shifting tech platforms, praying, seeking counsel and wisdom, etc.. Not surprisingly, deep entrepreneurial scar tissue was forged. Ultimately Checkdate Solutions became one of Kansas City’s fastest growing companies and was named one of the Greater KC Chamber of Commerce Best Businesses not once, but twice. Additionally, Checkdate Solutions ranked as one of KC’s top 100 fastest growing companies for nine consecutive years and was in the top 25 nationally in its industry. Today’s workplace culture tends to compartmentalize personal virtues from commerce, creating silos and compartmentalization between business, family, community, values and faith. But as a CEO, Drew and his company grew when he “decompartmentalized:” on his journey, he learned to integrate his life of commerce and his life of family, faith and values. Drew merged Checkdate Solutions with payroll industry leader Paycor, stepping away from the company in 2008 and serving on its board for eight years. Drew remains an owner in the firm. Today, Drew’s heart to help business owners leverage the influence of their business platform for eternal impact is at the core of Acumen which he founded late in 2015. Acumen is a catalytic iron-sharpening-iron environment forged from the fiery furnace of entrepreneurial battle, marketplace survival and integration of the timeless wisdom of the ages. Drew and his wife, Sarah have been married for 32 years and have four children (plus two beautiful daughters in law) ranging in age from 28 to 22. In early 2020, Drew and Sarah relocated to Evergreen, CO, He is a raving-fan congregant of Flatirons Community Church in Lafayette, CO, and enjoys snowboarding, hunting, cycling, hiking, and a variety of outdoor activities and adventures including running with his two dogs.