Tuesday Morning Focal Point

Slow Down to Speed Up

I have encountered many entrepreneurs and executives who get caught up in the rat race. Caught up, as if, output and success are some how connected with how fast you drive yourself and how much you do.  You must slow down to speed up.

While there may be times that in business we have to floor the gas pedal, leaders who always gas it are much less effective over the long term compared to those who know how to pace themselves.

Currently, I have a few clients whose situations are requiring them to slow down.  If they don’t slow down, they will never be able to speed up to their maximum speed.

Slow Down, Mc Queen

It reminds me of the famous line in the Disney Pixar movie, Cars.  Of course, the cocky young speed demon Lightning McQueen is all about speed, speed, and speed.  True enough, there was no competitor who could go faster than him on a straightaway.  However, speed along on a straightaway was not enough.  In fact, Lightning McQueen’s view of speed is what did him in.  Later in the movie, when he is being mentored by a former champion, the champion teaches him to slow down, to speed up.  Just one place this was relevant was in cornering.  Lightning had to learn to come into the corners much slower.  When he did, he was able to speed up much faster coming out of the corners.

Speeding to Crash

Do you ever slow down in business?  I think of one client who launched his company in 2017 and within a year was doing several million in business with over 30 employees.  He sprinted out of the gate and enjoyed some early success.  Within 2 years he was almost bankrupt, lost all his employees and carried a major debt load.  I won’t even get into how this impacted his personal life and mental health, but it was not desirable.

Earlier this year this entrepreneur contacted us.  When I interviewed him as a potential client for our roster, I made it very clear that he would need to slow down.  We needed him to slow into some strategic thinking.  I needed him to slow into building a plan along with process, etc.  There is no question this company will ramp up again quickly and will earn huge profits for many years to come.  However, it will require the slow down.

Easing in to the Slow Lane

Another client I am thinking of I have worked with for two full years.  At the outset, she had; in a sense; just created for herself a full-time job, surrounded by around 10 employees.  However, the mentality was all wrong.  The company was all built around her professional design services, selling to homeowners.  The only way she was going to make more money was to sell more of her services, leading her to have to run faster and faster and faster.  She was headed for a crash and burn and complete burnout.

It took a lot of effort, but just in the last 90-days I have been able to say to her that she is now ready to properly scale her business.  It is no longer built around selling her time.  Yes, she will be the fuel in the engine, but her company is now set up so it can scale without her having to constantly run and run and run.

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Planning your Acceleration

Yet another potential client is a managing partner of an accounting firm with around 150 employees.  We met this summer, introduced by another fellow in our respective networks.  We are actively discussing the possibility of working together next year.  This is another story about someone who after having worked with the firm for 22 years and now ready to take on managing partner, will have to slow down.  What concerns me at the outset, is he has no plan at this moment to slow down anything.  Yet he takes on this massive new role. 

Cameron’s Call to Action so you can Slow Down to Speed Up

  1. Review your key activities and the pacing of your endeavors – is it sustainable?
  2. Do you have a Scaling Up plan for your company that does not revolve around you doing more output yourself, but rather includes a team and an infrastructure of supports systems and processes?
  3. Consider, how much have you been working on the business recently, as a senior leader, versus just working in the business?
  4. Think of an upcoming turn you need to make (using the race car analogy of a corner).  Are you anticipating how slow you may need to go, in order to make that corner safely and then speed up fully on the next straightaway?
Speeding up in your business means you are not slowing down to work on your business

Cameron is an Executive Coach and Consultant specializing in business growth and creating psychologically healthy workplaces.