Feel Like You’re Dragging a Sled?

Video proof  that I was there : Tractor pull

On a recent visit to see my daughter at Cal Poly I got to witness my first tractor pull event.  Walking towards the entrance, I could only imagine what this was going to be.  Tractors pulling what?  I know NASCAR goes around an oval track with lots of horsepower, but a tractor?  When I first saw some of those tractors on steroids, I started imagining a drag race.  Now that would be cool.  John Deere vs. Kubota, now there’s a classic showdown.

But it wasn’t in the cards. This was about pure muscle.  Some of the tractors had been modified so much it was hard to tell they had ever resembled a tractor. Oh well, somebody was having fun.  One big boy had over 3,000 horsepower.  So what to do with all of this power?

Each tractor was attached to a very long sled that was itself an engineering feat.  The sled had a counterweight that would move forward and put more weight on the rear of the tractor as it pulled it down the dirt track.  The winner was determined by the longest pull. Now I understand why these activities usually go better with a few beers.

So, did the biggest and loudest muscle tractor win?  Of course….not!  No. It was the not so flashy, smaller, nimble and darn right determined little bad boy that took home the trophy. Well if you’re still with me, it must be that you have a love for the big engine or just maybe you think I have something to share with you.

Here it is…the economy has been dragging a lot of businesses down.  Just like that sled I described earlier, just when a business begins to get a little traction, a counterweight moves closer and begins to slow the company down.  But why do some companies seem to have been able to move through the challenges of the current economy while others have failed?

Well, I think it is the approach they took.  The biggest, loudest, and flashiest don’t always win.  Why? Because they miss the opportunity that often lies right in front of them. Because they believe their tried and true methods of bullying their way to the front will work. On the other hand, the small, nimble and often humbled business owner realizes that while everyone else positions themselves for lower sales and short sided cost-cutting tactics, there is an opportunity to go in a different direction. He seizes the moment by coming up with something new to spark the interest of a prospect and finds ways to reward his loyal customers.

These tactics won’t work if they are created in a vacuum.  The wise owner brings her team into the picture and together they develop the strategies that keep the business moving forward. Too often an owner will try to solve all of the business problems on her own.  But it needn’t be that way. There is plenty of horsepower in the barn –  you just have to know how to harness it to get the most out of it in each situation.

As we move out of this recession, I wonder how many business owners have learned to tap the creativity of their employees. I know those who have actually shouldered less of the burden during these difficult times, are much better off today,  and will be well ahead of their competitors going forward.

Until next time…may your tractor go from pulling a sled to being a productive asset.

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