When we started Vision Quest Virtual Tours, we had a clearly defined strategy of building a local virtual tour business photographing North Georgia residential real estate virtual tours. Instead, we ended up with a national virtual tour company providing healthcare virtual tours and vacation rental virtual tours to clients all over the country.
Our strategy didn’t fail because we didn’t try hard enough to make it work. Our strategy failed because there was a better path for us that emerged as a result of the obstacles we faced and overcame. We put in all the effort we could but day after day, we were hearing nothing but “No Thank You” as I called Realtors. Our market was hit hard during the housing market collapse and our Realtors weren’t making money and therefore weren’t spending money on marketing. As we continued to contact those Realtors to no avail, we stumbled upon some other business by chance.
We thought that we would do a few vacation rental virtual tours and healthcare virtual tours as a way to make a little extra money while we waited for our North Georgia virtual tour real estate business to take off. What happened instead was that the Healthcare virtual tours and vacation rental virtual tour business skyrocketed and our new strategy became crystal clear. As a matter of fact, residential real estate virtual tours now make up about 5% of our business and healthcare and vacation rentals make up about 85%.
We had a well thought out business plan and IT failed. WE didn’t fail because we never stopped moving forward. It wasn’t that we didn’t try hard enough to make our intended strategy work but rather that as we pursued that initial strategy a better strategy emerged. Henry Mintzberg describes this “emergent strategy” as a set of actions, or behavior, consistent over time, which resulted in “a realized pattern [that] was not expressly intended” in the original planning of strategy. We have a thriving virtual tour business now simply because our initial plan was replaced by something more suited to our skills, experiences and lifestyle.
While business planning is valuable, any business should be flexible enough to take advantage of new and different opportunities as they appear. We’ve heard the old saying “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” but we must remember that the saying doesn’t specify that we need to try the same thing over and over again if it’s not working. The key to finding your strategy is to define and redefine as many times as necessary until you find the right one.