The Pole Vault

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Recently I’ve found myself using the phrase “pole vault” often in business conversations. Put simply, it’s a technique in which a small business uses a much bigger business to achieve something they could not have achieved on their own.
Below I am going to explain a bit more about this Pole Vaulting and how it can benefit your business.

Nowadays, we small business owners have tons of tools at our disposal. The little tools allow us to operate more efficiently and remotely and personally. The bigger tools can literally change the trajectory of our careers and lives.

Small business owners should be weary of becoming too dependent on tools (both big and small) because it can change the terms of the game — if you are too reliant on any third party company (or factor in general) you become reactive to that company and your livelihood is at risk. You can see why I sometimes over-emphasize the danger there. I wrote a blog post about this last year titled, When It All Comes Tumbling Down.

For my industry, the tools we talk about most are listing sites (Airbnb, HomeAway, Booking.com) where property owners and managers can list their vacation rentals, accept bookings, manage calendars…etc. My business helps vacation rental owners and managers develop sustainable marketing portfolios, so we spend a lot of time talking about “Listing Site Independence” or perhaps more accurately “Listing Site Non-Dependence” — the status of not depending too heavily on any listing site for your bookings.

But like many big tools (think eBay, Amazon, Etsy) the listing sites don’t have to be “bad” by any means. In fact, for vacation rentals, the listing sites present a huge opportunity for newbies and veterans alike to get exposure and reach. These sites offer so much ROI in fact, that if we use them wisely, we can reach new heights never before explored by businesses of our stature.

This is the Pole Vault — reaching new heights attainable only by flinging ourselves off the shoulders of giants — and to Pole Vault you need to affirm the following Logic Chain:
  1. Most small business owners’ dream goals are limited by a lack of certain resources
  2. There exist big companies which can supplant the effects of said limited resources
  3. If done properly, small businesses can leverage these resources by flinging themselves, like a Pole Vault, with the momentum of the big companies* in the direction of wherever they want to go

*It’s important to note that Pole Vault is not a zero sum game. In fact, in the best examples, both companies (the small business and the big business) achieve their respective outcomes.

Critical Thinking: Ask yourself, if you had unlimited resources (time, money, manpower, womanpower, contacts…etc.) what would you do to catapult or “pole vault” your business to the next level? Next, consider which (if any) large company or tool in your industry has that kind of skillset. Then begin to look at ways you can leverage their resources in your favor. Be fully aware of the costs and be comfortable with waiting until the time is right.

About the Author Matt Landau

I enjoy life and creating unique experiences for myself, my neighbors and friends, and my clients. When I wake up each morning, happiness and a meaningful contribution to those around me act as the framework for how I shape my day.

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