Which Business Strategy: Sprint to the Finish… Or Slow Down to Speed Up?

Last updated: 03-03-2021

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Which Business Strategy: Sprint to the Finish… Or Slow Down to Speed Up?

My high school cross country team was one of the top in the nation.

And our coach had this great race strategy: Start out strong, accelerate in the middle, and sprint to the finish.

It was almost as good as our basketball coach’s advice: The strategy to win the game is to score more points than the other team.

Who can deny the sports logic of gritting your teeth and muscling through? Yet in the world of business, such behavior will burn you out. Physical analogies don’t work, since you can’t think harder. You can’t think faster– if anything, you slow down under pressure.

Social media creates this real-time anxiety of needing to be available 24×7, everywhere. But you’re not a computer program that can run non-stop and multi-thread.

Yet I fear that us business owners are compelled to work harder and do more. Americans are most susceptible, since being a workaholic is a valiant trait.

The end of the nonsense comes when:

Services like Uber and AirBnb threaten to turn humans into robots. Just plug the hose into the back of your neck.

But marketing automation does the opposite, by doing things you’d be doing repetitively.

IT was superseded by marketing perhaps 5 years ago, when marketers governed wasteful geek spending. And now it’s marketing’s turn to get the comeuppance, being unable to answer the ROI question. When finance is able to track marketing effectiveness to reign in budget, we eliminate waste.

The snake oil sellers with cures for every ailment, newsfeed algo reach, and conversion rate problem, pack their wagons. You’ll know their time is up, just like the SEO people that drop SEO from their name and position themselves as content marketers. No more algorithm or soothsaying oracles– just solid focus on the customer and measurable business results.

A frenzy of activity is not necessarily a sign of productivity. In business, it often means you don’t know what you’re doing– no plan means you try everything.

Snarky managers like to trot out the “work smarter, not harder” mantra to struggling employees. Sounds good, but not actionable in how to get more efficient and prioritize better. So the employee (which is still you if you’re an entrepreneur) can’t jettison any priorities. They end up working as hard as ever.

Saying no to some things is the only way to ensure you’re actually saying yes to what matters.

The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, says that 20% of your effort produces 80% of the result. Instead of being a hero and trying to do more and more, what can do less of?

Make it intentional and high quality. Cut back on the number of close relationships you have.

You can’t have twenty best friends, any more than you can take a 10 slice large pizza, cut each slice in half, and say you now have twice as much pizza.

So instead of sprinting on the hamster wheel, trying everything out there and pretending it’s sooo amazing, stop. Resist the impulse and save yourself a ton of dead ends.


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