Sometimes moving too quickly will slow you down in the long run. Making the right decision, not the fast decision is critical when your goal is long-term, sustainable, profitable growth. The wrong fit customer, the big but unprofitable sale, the commitment without the ability to deliver… these are all moments when companies think they are moving fast, but often ultimately end up moving backwards. But when you feel a sense of urgency and opportunity, what is the alternative? Take a deep breath, try out these small business tips, and remember: slow is smooth, smooth is fast.
And he is right.
I’ve been taking that mantra to heart not just in the day-to-day of our projects at Six-Point, but to my own strategy for my business as we ease out of pandemic lock-down, and to my work as an advisor for our clients. Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.
In the spring of 2020, I felt like there was no time for inaction. Anyone who froze and didn’t act was in jeopardy. Since we couldn’t control the landscape shifting under our feet, just moving forward was the smartest way to go.
In the spring of 2021, I feel differently. I feel like there are major opportunities for growth, but particularly for smart growth, because all growth isn’t created equal. And being ready with the right solutions for the right people at the right time will be the difference between catching that wave and getting either overwhelmed or left behind.
So I have taken the past two months and gone into listening mode. Because slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.
What am I doing during this intentional slow down?
I am reading a lot and I am listening to a lot of podcasts. There are a lot of smart people who are extremely generous with their expertise and insights. I am also connecting with the authors and podcast hosts that I find the most valuable on LinkedIn (and sometimes offline, too) to be able to stay connected and in tune with what they are seeing and talking about.
I am interviewing leaders of successful brands in industries where I feel like my team can create true value. I’ve been having conversations with CEOs, sales directors, and marketing directors, and I am learning a lot about what it feels like on the ground in companies right now.
Our team is collaborating with Bean Group Global to survey business leaders all over the globe to better understand the effects of this acceleration into a hybrid world of both virtual and in-person workforces.
I am speaking less and listening more. And I am becoming much clearer for it.
I know it is tempting to just jump at opportunities, especially after you have either experienced a drought last year, or to keep your head down if you were overwhelmed with unexpected demand. But resist that temptation.
I would invite you to figure out what slowing down looks like for your business and your opportunity. Sometimes, the brave thing to do is to move forward even when you don’t know what tomorrow will bring. But right now, I would argue that truly courageous leaders are practicing discipline.
What might this look like? You might:
Start “auditioning” new relationships instead of selling to them.
Survey your customers to better understand what has changed in their world.
Set up some virtual coffees with key customers and just listen to what their world is like.
Talk with the competition. (I know, I know… terrifying! But we have seen some amazing collaborations when small competitors take on the big guys together.)
Collaborate with someone else who serves your industry and share insights.
Scan the social feeds of your ideal customers and see what they are talking about and doing that is not related to your product or service.
Read a lot, and not just about your industry. Find macro trends that you should be aware of and incorporate into your planning.
Prioritize with your team. You can’t do everything well, so what are the 1-3 things that are most important to knock out of the park? Allow them to really focus on those.
Now is the time to slow down.
To pick your head up and look down the playing field. To listen closely to your current and future customers. Listen, learn, and pick your best opportunity, not just any opportunity.
And then you will really catch that growth wave at its peak and let it carry you swiftly and smoothly to what’s next.