How Slowing Down Helps Your Business (and how we did it)

It's true- as an entrepreneur, it can be hard to slow down.  Generally speaking, business owners are a "Can Do" type of people, and being "slow" isn't generally an appropriate adjective for them.  

Even so, we're finding out during a season of slowing down and eliminating as small business owners, our business and even bottom line are actually doing fine (and even getting better).  Why? It all goes back to the Hedgehog Theory.

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In Good to Great, Jim Collins writes at length about how to use laser focus- what he calls The Hedgehog Theory- to become the best in your industry.  Focusing on what you do best means “cutting the fat” of everything else. You can be a jack of all trades, or an expert at one thing, but not both. When you choose to slow down, you are forced to focus on what you can do best and what you want to do most. This principal was one that Jim Collins found helped businesses make the leap from mediocre business to one of the giants in their industry.

While our goal at FIVE:thirty isn't exactly growing to become one of the biggest companies in America, we can appreciate this concept now more than ever.  As our family is growing and we've recently welcomed another baby, we've seen the need to slow down, eliminate, and revise almost every area of our lives and business.  This has come with surprisingly good results, as we're more focused than ever, waste less time, and take only projects and commitments that fit with our big picture goals.  Already, it's come with surprising results, like better turnaround time, better internal team communication, and more income versus time spend on a project. Here's the short story of how we got there:

  1. Decide what is essential to you

    This includes your business, family, personal life. Don't overcomplicate this step!

  2. Adopt a "One Thing" mentality.

    Decide, moment to moment, what your "one" focus will be.  Is this hour for work? Then do the ONE thing that would prove most beneficial for work.  Are you spending time with your family? Then get away from your phone or device and focus on them.  We adopted this principal by writing on our clients file what our "NEXT ONE THING" will be, so that each time we start working, we know what thing to start with.  That's gone a long way, and saved us time (and our clients money). If you want to learn more, check out the book by by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, The One Thing.

  3. Get cozy with white space. 

    When you have free time, don't automatically fill it up with something.  Now that you know what's essential, and know what to "do" next, you'll find yourself having moments of "nothing".  This is a good thing. Don't find something to fill these times.  Don't "sneak" in anything.  This "free time" has been so beneficial for our team in ways we never imagined.  We've found new ways to be more creative, find shortcuts, and generally make our lives easier. The white space is truly where the best ideas come from!

  4. Define clear duties for everyone, then let go. 

    I used to do absolutely everything in my business.  Now, I've learned to not only outsource, but to outsource well.  We found people to either join the team, or freelance with us, that can completely handle their duties, thus freeing us from checking up on them all the time.  

These things might not be perfect for every business, or possible for every industry.  For us, these little shifts have make a world of difference in our speed, helping us slow down, yet somehow do more.  If you want to work with a team that's living that slow life, be sure to get in touch!