7 things I learned from flying airplanes that are applicable to entrepreneurs


A long time ago I used to fly small airplanes. Before doing a maneuver such as a flying exercise to improve our skills we were taught to do a simple checklist called Hassell.

I didn’t realise how important this little checklist would become to entrepreneurial decisions, so am sharing in case it is useful for fellow Entrepreneurs as a tool to help make better decisions.

Hassell is a checklist you do while you are flying (akin to actually running a business rather than before takeoff). You do it before leaving your safe straight flight and starting to do flying exercises such as spinning, stalling etc. It is meant as a mental run through to check all the angles that could impact your business/aircraft and it includes an awareness of what you’ll do when the shit hits the fan.

Here it goes. Short and sweet.

  1. Height… For aviators this means having enough space btw you and the ground to recover. For entrepreneurs it means considering whether – in case what you are about to do falls flat – you have enough space to recover or will it crash and burn you?
  2. Airframe…..Are the flaps etc. as we want them. This for aviators means making sure the airplane is setup with everything ready to start the flying exercises. For entrepreneurs this means checking all the parts of your business to ensure they are ready to handle the additional stress your new venture will create, from cashflow to your assistant/employees/colleagues, etc.
  3. Security……No loose articles, everything secure. For aviators this means things flying around the cockpit as you yank the plane up and down, left and right (you can’t imagine how painful a loose screwdriver floating in air and hitting you can be). For entrepreneurs it means just thinking through the impact that your action will have… are there anything that can hit you when you least expect it? E.g. clients that now have less of you available for them, family that might flare up, etc.
  4. Engine………Are the temperatures and pressures in the green, set at the power setting we expect. Etc? For entrepreneurs this means ensuring that we have enough resources that even when we underestimate the time and efforts required for our new venture that we can last a little longer (even with the additional stress) before breaking down completely (e.g. do you have enough spare capacity in the day without requiring you to spend months of all nighters awake)?
  5. Location……For aviators this is just a quick scan to ensure that we really are where we are supposed to be and haven’t drifted somewhere where aerial exercises can cause danger (e.g. built up areas). In business it is the same. Do we really know the state of our business or do we think we know it. Are we entrepreneurs being wishful thinkers or do we have a factually based understanding of the state of our business and where we are?
  6. Landing field…. This is really a check that should the shit hit the fan we know where to aim the aircraft for an emergency landing (in those situations there isn’t much time to look around especially as you don’t have a functioning engine). In entrepreneurship this is an often overlooked aspect. We start new ventures without considering where we will land safely should something go wrong. On a practical level, this can be borrowing from everyone HOPING your business will take off instead of putting a cut off point at some stage.
  7. Lookout…….In aviation this means a 360 degree turn to check the surrounding skies for any other aircraft or objects that might pose a risk. In business we are so often focused on the new idea that we forget to look around to see what is going on around us, often seeing too late that there is no interest in our solution when we already invested way too much effort and money.

 

Hope the above helps. Happy entrepreneuring my Dear friends, and may your ventures take off!

York

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