Why Running A Business Is Similar to Learning To Fly

A common misconception is that entrepreneurs are born, not made. Many believe that the courage to set off on your own venture and having the resilience and perseverance needed to carry on even in challenging times is something found within an individual and cannot be created or learnt. As all sensible entrepreneurs will attest, this thought process is wrong. Running a business is a process which anyone can learn, just like learning to treat illnesses, learning to raise children, or yes, even learning to fly.


Master the basics

An individual wishing to take to the skies must first learn the basics of aerodynamics and flight. Understanding how and why an aeroplane flies and how a pilot should behave are fundamentals which no student pilot can go without learning.

Before you can think of running a business you must first learn the main principles of business. You must understand the laws of the land and the environment in which you will operate. Your business will likely need suppliers, and will definitely need clients. You need to visualise how each entity or person will interact. The Business Model Canvas is an excellent tool to do this.


Get help

To become a safe and successful aviator you need guidance from experienced flight instructors. It is ludicrous to think that an individual with no flying experience would sit in an aircraft alone and start flying. However, so many people start running a business without any help.

Finding help can be difficult and sometimes costly. In Malta, you will find some service providers geared towards startups that can help. It is also a good idea to consider the Business Advisory Services measure. You should also check your immediate network to identify qualified mentors.


Plan and execute

As a student pilot, the instructor would brief you on the day’s lesson, probably show you how it’s done, and then let you try it for yourself. In all likelihoods, you won’t succeed in the manoeuvre immediately, but your instructor will keep assisting you until you’ve mastered it.

Before launching a business in Malta or abroad you must have a plan. Ideally, this plan should be split in milestones that you must achieve as the business progresses. In many cases, you won’t be able to do certain things until you’ve accomplished previous goals. For example, you wouldn’t be able to start offering catering services before you actually own or lease catering equipment.

Planning for your business is important, but equally important is executing your plan. Too many business owners keep trying to perfect their plan before launching. As long as you have the main element of your business sorted (in some cases this is referred to as the Minimum Viable Solution), you’re good to launch. Running a business will help you improve and adapt your products and services.


Expect the unexpected

Diligent pilots will carry out a so-called captain’s brief prior to each flight. In this brief, whether to other flight crew or passengers, the pilot in command dictates what will happen in the case of several emergencies. Moreover, throughout the flight, the pilot monitors the aircraft’s systems to identify any emerging situations.

When you’re running a business, you will be bombarded with unplanned emergencies. In many cases, there is very little you can do pre-emptively. However, when you’re writing your plan you should dedicate time to consider possible scenarios and ways to deal with or mitigate them. In the same way that a pilot briefs the crew, you should brief your team on what might happen and how to react to it. This step becomes increasingly important as your business grows and communication between management and frontline workers slows down.


Stay ahead of your business

A competent pilot will be planning procedure and emergency contingency for the upcoming stages of the flight before even having left the ground. Pilots, especially those flying commercial aircraft, must juggle internal requirements (saving fuel, reaching your destination on time, etc.) with external influences (changing weather, onboard emergency, etc.). No two flights, and no two days of running a business, are every identical.

Pilots are constantly changing their priorities based on the current and upcoming situation. Entrepreneurs need to do the same, using market research and analysis to aid them in their decisions.

In the midst of a full-blown emergency, pilots stick to three key processes with decreasing importance. First, you Aviate, or fly the plane, then you Navigate, or figure out where your next point on the map will be, and then, and only then, do you Communicate with air traffic control with your intentions. When you’re running a business and you have an emergency, such as Covid-19, your first priority should be secure your cashflow. After that, it very much depends on your business.


Enjoy the flight

Learning to fly is expensive and hard work, and employment opportunities are nowhere near as rewarding as they once were. You might wonder why so many people continue to become pilots, and the answer is simple; the view. No office window can beat what a pilot sees at 1,000, 10,000, or even 30,000 feet. For most flying is a passion which, if conditions permit, they would do for free.

Would you say the same about running a business? Money aside, would you continue or start a business because it’s fun and rewarding? These are important questions to ask yourself before launching your idea.