4 Reasons Why Every Entrepreneur Should Be Rock Climbing
“Some of the world’s greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible.”
— Doug Larson
As entrepreneurs we are constantly searching for a leg up. That little piece of market information we didn’t have before, a line of code that gives us a hold over the competitor, or simply being the first to understand a new way of thinking that enables innovation. Over the past three years, two seemingly unrelated activities have impacted my personal and professional development, and it wasn’t until I sat down to write this post that I truly understood how closely intertwined they actually are. Those two activities were the enrolment in the Laurier LaunchPad Program, (which got my itch to innovate started) and my introduction to the sport of bouldering, a form of rock climbing that is done without a harness. Today I want to share with you some of the lessons that I have learned and the critical reasons why I believe every entrepreneur should be rock climbing.
Problem Solution Fit
“Use the wall!” A phrase that you will hear yelled time and time again at a rock climbing gym by high end climbers. As entrepreneurs we know that every solution that we come up with has resulted from understanding a gap in the market through customer discovery. You have to get out and actually see, and sometimes even experience the pains that your target market goes through in order to truly understand what they need. Customer discovery is a lot like looking at a rock climbing problem. You can see the holds, you can manoeuvre up them to a point, and often times you will get stuck thinking, “what next?” This is where the experienced climber can see the simple move of putting your hand or foot on the edge of the wall, a place where there technically is no hold. Sometimes the solution to the problem requires a deeper understanding of the customer. Try to see where clients need a hold but there isn’t one currently.
Nail It Then Scale It
Iterate, test, iterate, test, iterate, test, iterate… BAM! Found it. The perfect solution to the problem. Time to scale. Once problem solution fit has been completed it’s time to mock up an MVP and give it a try. Customer feedback and iteration is the endless loop of the MVP cycle until we find the right solution. Trust me it’s the exact same feeling as getting halfway up a wall and falling, only to get one move further and falling again. It can be painful and tiring, but nothing is more rewarding than being able to take everything you have learned about the problem and scaling the route. You’re never going to find that perfect product without failing a few times first; learn to do it the right way, and most importantly, learn to do it fast!
Innovation in a Changing Landscape
In our climbing gym every other Thursday used to be the most exciting, it was the day they reset one of the walls with brand new problems. Whether you are a competitive climber touring around outdoors to national parks, or an indoor climber that enjoys the thrill of a problem preset by the gym, there’s nothing better than the feeling of a fresh route you haven’t had a crack at yet. This is entrepreneurship in a nutshell. Travel anywhere across the globe and you will encounter new and fresh problems. Our job is to find a way to innovate and adapt, to find solutions that have yet to be thought of for problems that may not exist yet. The thrill of the fresh problem is what keeps us going. There is no better way to continuously experience that feeling then heading to the climbing gym on new route day.
You will fail. It’s that simple. The sport is hard on your body and your mind. You are forced to use muscles that rarely get used in day to day activities, and force yourself to think differently than you ever have. The combination of the two can be gruelling. However, if you are one of the few that stick it out, that really get to understand the intricacies of the sport, it will impact you in ways you won’t even realize. For those of you going through this rigorous entrepreneurial process, you know that feeling. Learning to act and think outside of any scope you have been taught, learning to tackle problems differently than every other competitor. It can… no it will be hard, at least to start. Keep pushing through; the world always needs a little more innovation.
LaunchPad Teaching Assistant & Communications Advisor