3 Ways to Slow Down the Busy Entrepreneur
Contrary to popular belief, being wickedly busy doesn’t translate to longterm success, in fact the opposite is true. Our best entrepreneurs, in terms of long-term growth and impact, are the ones that know how to slow down. As I’ve transitioned away from running the business to coaching other entrepreneurs the busyness issue is in my face on a daily basis. I routinely see entrepreneurs running their companies as if tomorrow will never come. Everything is an issue. Everything is a priority. Everything is right now.
Our culture has propagated the message the busy = productive, but that’s a lie. It’s the opposite of productive. Busy simply means you are doing something that takes up your time. Productive means the things you are doing are moving the business forward towards a goal.
Focus on being productive instead of busy.” Tim Ferriss
It’s the smaller companies that are the biggest offenders. Typically that’s the company that is still heavily lead by the founder(s) and lacking true team definitions and roles within the organization. It’s the sheer power of the founder that keeps the company running. Yet, this does not scale.
Companies making the leap from small to mid-sized have taken the time to step out of the whirlwind and work on their business. They’ve gotten away from being busy, to being productive.
Here are 3 tips for the small company to step back from the busyness and start doing what needs to be done to be productive.
- Identify “Unhealthy” Practices — Work as a team to identify practices and behaviors in the business that create unnecessary re-prioritization or introduce stress and confusion with everyone around the founders. This is usually the senior team, executive team or directors. Call this the “Long-Term Issues” list. At the start of a quarter, upvote the top three issues that can be addresses in the upcoming quarter. Work as a team to put the structures, expectations and roles in place to remove these unhealthy practices.
- Ask for Priority and Push Back — The members of the team need to be empowered to work on the goals of the company and execute their day-to-day roles. When a founder lobs an urgent task or high-priority item to the team, be sure to ask follow up questions directed back to the founder, such as: What on my plate needs to drop off to make room for this priority? How does this urgent request align with the goals of the business? Yes, this does introduce a bit of conflict, but conflict is necessary for behaviors to change.
- Identify the Root Issue — In most cases, founders that are micromanaging or meddling in the affairs of the team are doing so because they aren’t feeling confident the need is being addressed. Having started the company, the founder is often capable of fulfilling most roles and thus it’s too easy for them to step in and “just do it.” I often hear founders say things like “it will take me too long to explain how to do it so I’ll just do it instead,” and it’s this type of thinking which limits the ability of the company to scale. In such a situation, stop the founder and ask, “what do you need to see from me to make you feel comfortable?” or “if I provide you with X,Y and Z, will you be able to back-off and let me do my job?”
The best entrepreneurs know how to slow down and manage their time in a more productive way. Stepping away from the busyness allows them to focus on what’s important and make progress on their goals. Take a deep breath, identify the unhealthy practices in your company, and start making changes!