Why Being Boring is Sometimes the Best Strategy For Your Business
There will be time for planning and strategy, visions and goals – absolutely, there will. Just not right now. Learning to sit still for a little while is maturity not just for a business, but for the business owner.
I’ve been working with this client (let’s call him Greg) for a few years and those few years have been filled with major changes for Greg as he wrestled his business out of the fire, and dedicated himself to maturing all areas – production, financial management, people, etc. No stone was left unturned and the company is a pretty amazing little sight to behold these days and he has seen the impacts on his revenue and his profit.
While all this is great, it also mean Greg has become used to a pretty much constant presence of stress and change, problem solving and realignment. He’s learned that running a business means feeling like you’re always on edge, that you need to be perpetually one step ahead of the next thing that will take up your time.
After a few years of hard work, Greg has found himself in a place where we have established very disciplined controls, routines and patterns, and for the first time, things are humming along nicely. Customers are happy, work is getting done with quality, the staff is happy, and although he’s still not swimming happily in the black, the finances are finally stabilizing.
We met for our weekly check in last week and I noticed him looking antsy and agitated, like he was feeling anxious and worried. While we chatted about his upcoming week’s activities, he asked me repeatedly if we should be creating a 3-5 year plan and making some arrangements to make big changes to all sorts of things – our lease agreement, our machinery, maybe we should get investors and buy a building.
We talked through all of these things and what became clear to me was that he was anxious to have something big happening. He wanted to feel like he had his next big dragon to slay, or a new big project to work on, even though these were the things that had been keeping him up at night for the last few years and had been wearing him down so heavily.
From my perspective, he didn’t need to worry about these things right now. We are still in recovery mode, and I want to see him in a stable, solid financial position for at least a few months before we start planning for something else that is big. While I am a strong believer in taking calculated risk, for Greg’s own sanity and for the health of the company, I believe he needs to stay the course for a little while, hunker down and let the changes he has made take hold and mature. He also needs a mental and emotional rest, but he’s the type of entrepreneur who is wired to always want to see the next big step (a trait I love and admire, but in great quantities can also be damaging to a business and a person).
“Greg,” I said, “You need to be boring for a while.”
He looked at me as if I had just told him to jump in the glacier-fed river that coursed through the property.
Greg expected me to say “Yes! Yes! Planning until we can’t see any more! Vision! Goals!”. But, I didn’t. He might have been disappointed.
See, I was Greg a decade ago. I madly, incessantly strove for big goals, big projects, no rest, no calm. I also ran myself into the ground and ended up trying to juggle many, many balls that each eventually fell. What I needed to do, and what Greg needs to do, was to sit with my results and let them percolate. I needed to learn from what had transpired, and make smart choices about what I invest my time and money in.
Greg needs some time to sit. He needs to learn how to see the progress in his business, which has been significant, and allow everyone to catch up to where he is. There will be time for planning and strategy, visions and goals – absolutely, there will. Just not right now. This is also a great lesson for him in calming his urge to change something and worry about something. This is maturity not just for his business, but for him.
In the end, he agreed, and we set a date to embark on a more holistic planning exercise in 6 months’ time, when he and the business have been able to recover from its fatigue, and the success has been allowed to gain a foothold. He will learn to grow his business in a smart way and reflect on his successes to plan for his next investments. Most importantly, he will fall back in love with his business because he will see, and believe in his success.
Tell me in the comments…
Are you being boring or rushing to fill up your time with all the things?
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