Roads Less Travelled
Taking Robert Frost's poem 'The Road Not Taken' as a guiding lamp, I have broken down the various challenges a business faces when trying to venture into unexplored markets and how they can possibly deal with it.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
It is almost impossible to write about this topic without quoting Robert Frost's poem ‘The Road Not Taken'. And that is exactly what I just did. And I did this so that I could take you on a journey : a journey of realizations, discovery and challenges. So, even if you don't remember this till your death bed, I hope it will stick around in some deep part of your being so that the next time you go along such a journey, you can tell your fellow travelers,"I think I know where we are going."
Now that we are past the philosophical basis of this article, let's get down to business. I mean literally. There are few other places where the concept of ‘roads less traveled’ fits so perfectly like it does in the context of business. Businesses are always trying to select the path to go forward with from a multitude of options. In that process, they leave some equally favorable options behind and sometimes even better options that were at the time hidden behind a cloud of uncertainty and risk. Its always a constant battle between ‘what to do’ and ‘what not to do’ and ‘what can be done’ and ‘what cannot be done’. But going down a completely novel path is a true risk if your judgement of the market conditions is not accurate. But it is the possibility that it could be ‘the next big thing’ that makes the entire affair so exciting. If backed by dependable market research that is. Like Frost so rightly wrote about going down the road less traveled,
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Entering a new market means you have to start everything from scratch. And by 'everything' I mean, everything. From establishing the basic infrastructure to enable your product to get easily integrated into the currently prevailing system to actually finding out whether what you are trying to sell is what the customers truly want. There is a reason why no one else has ever dared to venture down the path in question. Your job is to find out what that is and whether you can solve the problem associated with it. And also whether it is a problem that people want to be solved.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
In both life and business, there is a high chance that you will be haunted by the words you did not say, the actions you did not take and the opportunities you just let pass by, while the world, it seems, missed nothing. Frost knew this all too well and also knew, even as he decided to walk down the other path, that he probably would not end up doing that. So how do you deal with this? I think it is extremely important to understand, especially in the business context, that you cannot have everything, every time. You will have to make compromises. You will have to make choices. You will have to prioritize.
Two roads diverged in a wood,
and I— I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
So choose your path like Frost did with the help of all the relevant data you can get your hands on and your own intuitive sense. The stakes are always higher in business decisions as the number of dependent factors are much more. And if things go sideways, all these dependents will get affected. But don't let that stop you from taking the leap. The roads less traveled are the ones that are full of untapped potential. So, get, set, go! And that will make all the difference.
You say the word 'philosophy' and you will instantly grab my interest. You say 'psychology', and you will find me eavesdropping the conversation. But you say 'writing' and you will see that I just can't stop talking. So beware! You have been warned.