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Zigzagging Your Way to Success: New Book

Rich Christiansen|Author, "The Zigzag Principle"
Thursday, 6 Oct 2011 | 10:52 AM ET

GUEST AUTHOR BLOG: Zigzagging to Business Success by Rich Christiansen author of, "The Zigzag Principle: The Goal Setting Strategy that will Revolutionize Your Business and Your Life."

The Zig Zag Principle
The Zig Zag Principle

Zigzagging is such a powerful, natural law. It’s how we live our lives.

Take the moon missions for example. On the first moon-landing mission, while the module was on its way to the moon, it was actually flying off course 98 percent of the time. You would think they would fly in a direct, straight course, but the reality is they didn’t!

In nature, rivers don’t flow in straight lines and mountains have contours and detours. Also, when you go skiing if you point your tips straight down the mountain, you are setting yourself up for disaster.

The same thing is true in business.

When we charge directly for our goals, we have big, ugly crashes. Instead we must learn to zigzag—the entire concept behind The Zigzag Principle.

The full import of this concept came to me when I was hiking with my family in the Himalayas. I knew the risks we were facing; one real risk was contracting pulmonary edema (or altitude sickness). I knew I had to guarantee 100 percent success on our journey because I wasn’t comfortable saying, “Well, four of the five of my kids died along the way… but one of them made it to the top!”

In order to get to our goal safely, we had to take a lot of detours. In fact, looking back I realize we spent a lot of our time hiking away from our goal—chanting with monks in the monastery, eating apple pie in trekking houses, and having lots of side adventures. It took two or three weeks to get to our goal, but we all got to the mountaintop safely.

"When we charge directly for our goals, we have big, ugly crashes. Instead we must learn to zigzag."" -Author, "The Zigzag Principle", Rich Christiansen

Just like my experience in the Himalayas, in business we should not be willing to accept the statistic that 9 out of 10 small businesses fail. We need to find a way to take switchbacks to get more businesses safely to the peak of success.

The Zigzag Principle

The Zigzag Principle is a sequence of switchbacks. It is a pattern that you can use over and over and over until you reach your beacon in the fog. Here are the main switchbacks, or zigzags, to get you to success:

  1. Establish a firm foundation. Assess your resources and identify your beacon in the fog (or ultimate goal).
  2. Divert! Immediately drive to profitability.
  3. Add processes and resources.
  4. Add a scale element to your business. Duplicate and expand.

This is an exhilarating concept because the Zigzag Principle gives people permission to live their lives. I have a team of stay-at-home moms who work for me. Imagine if they charged straight for their business goals—their kids would be in very stinky diapers for a very long time. I also employ a team of teenage boys, and the reality is that they have lives! My son is one of these teenagers and he is on the high school football team. Another team member is involved with debate, and another on the student council. If they were set on charging straight to business success, they would probably flunk out of high school! That would be unacceptable.

Live a Rich Life

I would argue that the richest parts of life are actually the detours we take. By slowing yourself down and allowing you these deliberate detours, you can actually navigate and migrate to higher levels of success.

Zigzagging is a powerful concept. It works. It works. It works! I know because I have founded or cofounded 33 different companies and the biggest failures came when I charged straight for my goals. I have now had my last four out of five businesses succeed using the concepts of the Zigzag Principle.

The Zigzag Principle is liberating! Use it and find the confidence to act on your dreams. Apply it to your business and find the balance to live your life while seeing business success. The key is just to step out into the fog and begin.

Rich Christiansen founded or co-founded 32 business, each with less than $10K. Of those, 11 were complete failures, but 11 have become multimillion-dollar companies. He describes himself as “a perfectly good technology executive turned entrepreneur” from his time at Mitsubishi Electric, About.com, and Novell. Rich is author of The Zigzag Principle and co-author of Bootstrap Business: A Step-by-Step Business Survival Guide, both of which provide an inside look into the action formula for business success. For free access to business-building tools and more information on The Zigzag Principle, or to order a copy of the book, visit www.zigzagprinciple.com

Email me at bullishonbooks@cnbc.comAnd follow me on Twitter @BullishonBooks

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