Ballooning Business

The gentle winds have blessed us
The sun has welcomed us with its warm hands
We have flown so high and so far, God has joined us in our laughter
And sent us gently back to the loving arms of mother earth

This is the Hot Air Balloonist’s prayer. We share it with our first time passengers after they have experienced the wonder of “lighter than air” flight.

I have been a balloonist for 20+ years, it is my favorite hobby.

Everything in the world is connected. (Humm…..where the hell is he going with this, I wonder?)

I am always trying to make connections between things. Ones that on the surface appear to have nothing in common. They can be as far apart as Mountain Dew and the Whirlpool Galaxy.

When you stop and think (imagine that) of how two totally different things might have points in common, it helps stretch your mind. Think of it as mental Yoga. If you are like most of us, your mind could use a little more cardio.

So after my balloon flight today, I was thinking about a current client of mine.

He needs a lot of help. I think he slept through basic training and skipped practice when they were teaching blocking and tacking.

• He has no written Business Plan
• No Marketing Plan
• No PR plan
• No Growth Strategy
• No Metrics

No way to measure where they are at, if they are improving, or if the edge of the cliff is around the next corner.

Yet by some miracle he is still making decent money.

We should all be so lucky.

I asked, “Do you measure anything?”

“The checkbook balance still looks OK, I think.”


How can a business have no written plans for the basics?

I am still amazed that about 9 out of 10 of the clients I come across have no written plans for where they want to go. How can this be? How can there be no plans?

No one can predict the future, but you can certainly improve the odds of success by creating a well thought out plan. But of course allow lots of wiggle room to adjust things when the winds of change appear.

In Hot Air Ballooning you can not steer the balloon. Well not directly anyway.

You are going the exact speed and direction of the wind. Period.

But this does not mean you are out of control. It doesn’t mean you go in without a plan.

You can guide the balloon in the direction you generally want to go by changing altitude. Winds are usually going different directions at different heights. So you can pick and chose different levels to help guide you to your goal.

You don’t just jump in a balloon and take off. You have to get weather reports, wind speeds from the FAA, check airspace requirements, release a Helium balloon to double check wind speed and direction, review road maps and plans for the chase vehicle, check radio communications, and get landowner permission to launch from their field.

The goal of a Hot Air Balloon competition is to fly about 5-8 miles and see how close you can get to a target. The target is a large X on the ground. Even though you can’t steer the balloon directly, with the proper planning and adjustments “on the fly”, you can usually get pretty close to your target. Then finally you are scored on how close you throw your “baggy” to the center of the X.

Check out my flight in this video. I think my planning paid off.

(if you are receiving this via email and don’t see the video, then click on the article title at the top of the page, which takes you to the blog)

If you don’t have a written plan for some of the basics of your business, is it time for you to go to basic training ?

Mark L. Fox

About admin

Mark L. Fox is a leading authority on teaching practical creative thinking techniques for business. Mark was the youngest Chief Engineer ever on the Space Shuttle program at the age of 31. He received NASA’s highest recognition of “Launch Honoree” at the age of 23. Mark has an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering with an MBA. Having held top management positions in Rocket Science, Aircraft Hydraulics, Engineering Services, Customer Service, Software, and e-Business, Mark has an extremely diversified background.

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