Imagine a high-sea navigator, juggling between the discovery of new horizons and the management of their ship. This delicate balance should be at the forefront of entrepreneurs’ concerns, as they are often challenged by this duality: how to effectively allocate their time between exploitation and exploration?

Exploration is the art of strategy and innovation. It’s in this moment that you delve into R&D, scan the market for the next disruptive product, or keep an eye on the competition. It’s the time devoted to learning, expanding knowledge, and strategic reflection. Whether it’s at trade shows or during conferences, exploration is an outward-focused journey, often enjoyable and stimulating.

Exploitation is the daily routine of the company. This is where orders are prepared, invoices are issued, parcel transport is organized, and overdue clients are followed up. It’s also the time when we handle all the unexpected issues with clients, suppliers, bankers, or colleagues. It’s the fifteen minutes you’ll take with a colleague to provide support in their work. Exploitation is inward-focused, it may not be the most attractive part, yet it is essential to the success of the company

In the fast-paced world of startups, I often see some entrepreneurs leaning excessively towards exploration, neglecting the daily necessities of exploitation. And others immerse themselves too much in exploitation, neglecting openness to innovation and strategy. For me, the right entrepreneur is not the one who prefers one over the other or chooses between them; it’s the one who considers both exploration and exploitation in the allocation of their priorities. The real quest, which is not so obvious at first, lies in the ability to find the right balance.

For this, don’t hesitate to regularly take the time to reflect on how you allocate your time between exploitation and exploration. When you are in exploitation, don’t let yourself be distracted by exploration, as it is very tempting to get carried away by it. And when you devote whole periods to exploration, be able to completely disconnect from the daily routine… even though I know it’s sometimes impossible!

As entrepreneurs, you are both the navigator and the captain of your ship, so keep the course while ensuring that all the accessories of your boat are functioning!

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