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The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you get one more yard
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part

The Waiting, by Tom Petty (1981)


We all wait.

We wait for the dentist, we wait for the mailman, and we wait for our dinner.

We have a job interview, and we wait for a response.

Our spouse goes to the doctor, and we wait for the news.

We wait for spring, then wait for summer, and then wait for the fall.  Once winter arrives, we start the waiting over again.

Business waiting.

In business, we wait as well.  We wait for contracts to show up, for supplies to arrive, and for a production run to finish.

Most importantly, in business, we wait for opportunities—hopefully golden opportunities.

One perception of a business model is creating and capturing value in a market and then sustaining it into the future.

You develop a product, find and market to buy it, and then continue to supply it for as long as you can.  For example, you invent the buggy whip, find buggy owners who will buy it, and then produce the buggy whip until the Model T car is invented.

In this process, you are waiting for two events.

One is the buyers to start buying.

And the second is for the buyers to stop buying.

Both are opportunities.  One is the opportunity to start production.  And the second is the opportunity to move to the next product.

Now, this is an overly simplistic version of a business model.  But the important part is the waiting.  And we need this to be active waiting.

Active Waiting.

To survive and thrive in most business markets, business leaders and entrepreneurs can pursue a strategy of active waiting, which consists of anticipating, preparing for, and seizing opportunities and dealing with threats as they arise.

Active waiting begins with the acknowledgment that managers cannot predict or control how the future will unfold.

Most industries have their own version of how to wait actively.  They include forecasting the future, re-visioning their businesses, and storing up specialized resources that will give them a sustainable competitive advantage.

But like Tom Petty’s song, waiting is the hardest part.

Here are several suggestions to help in active waiting:

  1. Keep your vision fuzzy and priorities clear. Describe your company’s domain, geographic scope, and aspiration in broad terms.
  2. Probe the future. Use environmental scans, investments in potential new markets, and small-scale market experiments to explore potential opportunities and threats.
  3. Maintain a war chest. A reserve of cash can be deployed against numerous opportunities and provide the perfect hedge against unexpected threats.
  4. Declare your “main effort.” When you encounter an opportunity or threat so crucial that it demands your organization’s complete focus, declare it your main effort – your company’s top priority for a specific period of time.

The Bible

Psalm 27:14 says.

Wait for the Lord; Be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.

And Psalm. 37:9 says.

For evildoers will be cut off. But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.

Waiting is an important part of the Bible’s story.

Abraham waited.  Job waited, King David waited, Moses waited, and even Jesus waited.

The Bible talks much about waiting. Just like in business, God wants us to know that waiting is far from a passive activity in which we do nothing.

Instead, Scripture teaches us that God wants us to actively participate in the work he desires to accomplish while we wait.

Waiting actively can cultivate good fruit in our lives, such as patience, perseverance, and endurance. It also draws us closer to our Savior and points those who are watching us to the gospel.

Knowing how to wait is a good, personal trait.  Knowing how to actively wait is a virtue that will pay dividends in business and personal life.  Waiting on God is where we all are trained in how to wait appropriately.