Control is the key, not speed!

Several years ago, when Britney Spears was supposedly still a virgin and petrol prices were still within the reach of my pocket money, I met with an accident.

I was 17 and in the process of learning how to ride a scooter (my Dad’s).

I took the scooter out one night and crashed into an auto at high speed for a small town like Ooty (60 kmph). The auto guy who was ahead of me did an unexpected u-turn and I simply couldn’t help but replace his seat with my scooter. Yup, I managed to knock out the entire driver seat (and the driver too I guess) and seat my scooter inside the auto – cozy and warm.

I was taken home (after a visit to hospital) by another auto driver in pain.

While my Dad was furious about it, my uncle told me something I haven’t forgotten till this day.

“It’s NOT about the speed! It’s ALL about control!”, he sputtered at me.

He continued, “I have seen people ride well at 90kmph and seen people crash at 40kmph. You need to understand your limits of control. If you feel you are losing control, its time you slowed down. It’s outright stupidity to be riding at speeds beyond your control.”

He was damn right. I was just learning to ride a scooter. My only prior experience was with bicycles and 30kmph speeds. This was different.

I simply didn’t have good control at that speed. Statistically, I had a very high chance of crashing at that speed.ย The odds always even out – eventually.

At a startup, I feel it is equally important to go at a speed that is just around your comfort of control. A bit loose now and then might be good to test your improvement on control – but beyond your control is recipe for failure.

Personally, at my company which is still a baby, I feel in control when

  1. we’ve identified what to track as KPI’s and track them religiously, available to me every single evening
  2. we have a reasonable idea as to why our figures were such in that month (be it higher or lower)
  3. every single rupee is reviewed and everyone in company knows our position roughly – income, expense, liabilities, receivables, etc. We are fanatic about cashflow management.
  4. operations (of repeated stuff) is near autopilot – all employees know how to handle their part in regular business well
  5. employees keep me in loop for all major happenings, esp because I don’t go to office every day
  6. I’ve assessed and set goals for every employee every month
  7. at the end of month, there is enough money in the coffers to pay everyone plus a buffer to pad you up for growth
  8. receivables longer than 2 weeks is less than 10 % of revenue that month (we are pay-upfront type of company. For you, it could differ.)
  9. when our employees know what is expected of them anytime
  10. I’ve called up at least 1 customer directly for feedback and opinion on our service in 10 days

The above list is something that I sat and noted down today.I might come back and edit it a bit as I gain more insight.

Also, since our company is still a baby with only 5 people, I could do all of it myself. However, as we grow, a part of it will have to be delegated and that will change the equation a bit. A few would argue that a control mindset would slow down the company, but this is me and I don’t buy that argument.

I am an advocate of the fail fast mode of operating. However, fail fast is not equal to out of control. Control is key. You can wobble at times. If you do, its good to slow down a bit to regain control.

Also, I have to say this firmly – to control is NOT to go slow. To control is to proceed at a healthy pace for you and your company, in the longer term!

Agree with me? Would love to know your feedback.

4 thoughts on “Control is the key, not speed!

  1. I agree Prem. Control is the key indeed, not the speed! I have some experiences on roads where I have realized that I was on the verge of loosing control. I’m thankful for my life!
    I have been following you (your blogs) for quite some time now and I have always liked your thoughts, approach & posts ๐Ÿ™‚

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