Anyone who's summited a Colorado 14er knows the first 10,000 feet are much tamer than the final 4,000.
For those out of state, 14ers are Colorado's famous 14,000-foot peaks. Climbing them is considered a rite of passage here in the land of Coors Banquet and John Elway.
Toward the top of the mountain, each step higher becomes progressively more difficult. Scree piles are slick and treacherous. Thunderstorms are always ready to ruin your day. Above treeline, all bets are off.
So, if you want to bag a 14er, you plan your success. You stuff your backpack with water, food, sunscreen, rain jackets, headlamps, and extra layers. You carefully plan your route, checking your maps and GPS to ensure you stay on course. You leave early in the morning, push to the summit by noon, and scramble back down the hill before the thunderstorms can get you.
As you climb, the altitude takes your breath away. Relentless sun parches you. Violent gusts of wind try to steal your hat (and sometimes they succeed). But the most breathtaking views are waiting at the summit. So you overcome the mountain's objections. You press on.
It takes more than a passing interest to climb a 14er. You have to come prepared for the long haul.
The same is true in business.
Short hikes can be spontaneous, but you must plan to reach loftier peaks. You have to stay committed if you want to bag the summit. And you need to bring the right gear.
If you're trying to build something quickly, you slap it together. If you want to build something big, you lay the groundwork. For a brand, that means taking the time to understand yourself and your audience. It means putting in the work to build a brand the right way. It means being prepared to stick with it all the way to the summit.
The brand identity you quickly patched together when you first launched your business was a success. It got you this far. But the most challenging 4,000 feet might still be ahead. And if you want to see the highest rewards the mountain offers, you'll need to conquer the scree piles and thunderstorms.
The tools that got you here might not get you there.
Do you know who your 1,000 truest fans are? Do they find your offer irresistible?
If you aren't satisfied with your climb, it may be time to plan your route and bring the right gear. Stand for something and someone. Own our story and space. Grow from the ground up.
You can't summit a 14er in flip-flops.