The Seven Deadly Sins of Transition: A Series

By: John Hotson,
Business Transition Alliance Co-Founder

Deadly Sin #6 – Walk Before You Run

Throughout the first five articles in this series we’ve talked about how owners who have built up a successful business have worked hard on seven good habits that have served them well in developing their business. Now however they need to undo and rework those good habits if they are to successfully transition the business, either through a sale or hand-off to family.

The sixth habit that owners have to rework is “Walk Before You Run

Overthinking Stunts Growth

This way of thinking has provided you with a level of success. But it may have also created a culture in your company that requires a complete understanding of all the risks (through product research, what-if scenario planning and ROI projections) that kills good ideas prematurely and compresses the entrepreneurial thinking that is vital for the continued growth of your business.

The next generation of leaders thinks in terms of 10X growth* and as potential future business owners are likely to be looking for exponential opportunities in a business acquisition. If your transition plan requires that you maximize the value of your business, you need to give this serious consideration.

Walk Before You Run

Now is the time to change the thinking habits inside your business.
Instead of taking one step at a time you need to “Run Before You Walk

Run Before You Walk is a metaphor that means you have the potential to achieve incredible success, and sometimes situations demand that you perform tasks requiring a higher level of expertise and skill, before you learn the basics.

The Run Before You Walk mindset builds on what we talked about in our previous article, Expect to Fail. Once you have built a culture that accepts failure as a natural part of the growth process, you need to find ways to demonstrate how that can work in your company. Dominic Basulto, Silicon Valley guru says,

“Fail early, fail often fail forward. As most experiments fail, real progress requires trying out tons of ideas, decreasing the lag time between attempts and increasing the knowledge gained from results.”

Take a tip from the software industry where developers use a technique called “agile design” which incorporates customer input early and often in the process shaving years off the development cycle because they run with frequent “minimally viable products” – run before you walk to get you to more predictable outcomes faster.

“Don’t wait for things to be perfect before you share them with others. Show early and show often. It’ll be pretty when we get there, but it won’t be pretty along the way. And that’s the way it should be”. – Creativity Inc. – Catmull

As with all these quotes you can take what you want from them, but my personal interpretation is that sometimes you have to jump into something and be prepared to act your best and perform better than you ever have at a moments notice, even if you haven’t had the chance to fully prepare. Ultimately it’s saying that life doesn’t always give you the time to be completely, perfectly ready before it drops a challenge on you and you just have to deal with it, do your best, and not shy away from the challenge!

* See BOLD – Diamandis and Kotler

Next 30 days: Have each of your management team read BOLD (Diamandis and Kotler). Gather them together and get them to apply the principles from that book to create a list of six impossible ways the business could grow exponentially by running ahead of your traditional way of doing things.


  • Run Before You Walk – Swamy
  • Creativity Inc. – Catmull
  • BOLD – Diamandis and Kotler

About John Hotson:

John is a seasoned marketing and communications professional. Formerly as a senior executive at Nortel Networks, he managed start-up businesses in Canada and the US. John now works as an advisor to owners who are committed to improving the value of their business. John is a co-founder of The Business Transition Alliance.


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