Find your own intrinsically optimal rate of growth along with a plan for consistent improvement to lay a foundation on which you can continue to build a successful enterprise, year after year.
August 20, 2018 7 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Do you remember the fable from your childhood of the tortoise and the hare competing in a race? By moving slowly but steadily, the tortoise unexpectedly wins the race because the hare, knowing that he’s much faster than the tortoise, stops halfway through the race and falls asleep. The point of the fable is, of course, slow and steady wins the race.
The lesson learned from this fable is one of the most valuable you’ll ever learn as an entrepreneur. I believe in the philosophy presented in this fable so much that it has become one of my company’s 10 core values: Slow down to go fast. This means that we strive to get the job done right the first time around.
The step-by-step approach
I believe my company, Nerium International, is a great example of steady growth. After launching in the United States in 2011 with the mission to make people better and a corporate staff of 13, the company was built upon one product. Today, Nerium has achieved record-breaking sales, industry accolades and has expanded to international markets. We’re just getting started!
If you really think about what I just said, you’ll understand I’m not trying to convince you that going slow is better than going fast. Both ways — slow or fast — can have detrimental consequences. What’s important is that you find your own intrinsically optimal rate of growth. Your rate of growth along with your plan for consistent improvement is what will lay a foundation on which you can continue to build your enterprise, year after year.
The key is consistency along with using these four powerful tools to drive your business home.
1. The power of momentum
Nearly one in four Americans are now part of the gig economy, according to the Pew Research Center, with more and more men and women of all ages seeing the value in exchanging the corporate 9-to-5 grind for earning an income on their own terms. The transformation of the labor market over the past decade have allowed startup companies like Lyft and Uber to expertly tap into the momentum of an increasingly popular digital “platform economy” by offering adults a flexible way to earn an extra income while also providing more convenient services to customers. It’s a win-win, and after 5 billion trips, it’s no wonder that Uber has remained one of the highest value startup companies in the world, according to Business Insider.
You, too, can use the power of momentum. Utilize the energetic force behind positive thoughts, behaviors and relationships to build momentum so that once you commit to essential activities, there’s no turning back. Every step you take is a step forward. All you have to do is find your rhythm. Once set in motion, momentum will keep you going as long as you work on achieving goals and learning from any missteps along the way.
2. The power of completion
Put a stop to all the draining forces in your life by using the power of completion. Incomplete activities — promises, commitments, agreements — take away from the energy and exhilaration you gain from accomplishing a goal. Incomplete activities prevent you from closing one door and opening the door to your future, i.e., it holds you back. Use the power of completion to leave, in the past, things you can’t change while focusing on improving and prioritizing what you can. Use the power of completion and get things done:
Do more of what matters most. It’s unlikely you’ll have time to attend every birthday party or watch every series on TV. Successful people understand sacrifice, which is why they don’t even start a project, or commit to a date if they know they’re not going to follow through. It’s a waste of time! Focus your energy on completing the task that will get you closer to accomplishing your dreams.
Cross off one item at a time. Studies reveal people perform better when they write down a list of what they need to accomplish. Interestingly, Professors Baumeister and Masicampo from Wake Forest University showed “while tasks we haven’t done distract us, just making a plan to get them done can free us from this anxiety.”
Know when to peaceably detach. “Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they’ve started,” said David Allen, author of Getting Things Done. I once read that the average person has as many as 25,000 to 50,000 thoughts each day and 70 percent of those thoughts are negative. At some point, you need to let go of mistakes and disappointment. Sit down with your to-do list and decide which items you can let go of.
3. The power of reflection
Instead of obsessing about what you still need to accomplish today, take time to reflect on concrete actions you’ve already taken that is going to help you move the needle. Regularly reflect on your actions to train your brain to recognize shortcomings, which allows you to start working on self-improvements with your adjusted goals in mind. More importantly, all your self-reflection is going to shine a bright light on all the positive steps you’re taking, too.
Here’s a great example: Recently, Uber charged the new CEO “with turning the scandal-plagued startup into a traditional company — without sacrificing what made it successful,” according to the New Yorker. In 2017, Business Insider reported that more than 200,000 Uber customers deleted their accounts after the #DeleteUber movement. After several scandals, Uber reflected on its deteriorating self-image and is now taking the necessary steps to improve the brand.
4. The power of celebration
Acknowledge your successes, no matter how insignificant they may seem. It’s easy to focus on all the things you’re doing wrong but it’s equally, if not more, important to recognize what you’re doing right. Shift your mindset to acknowledge small victories, and you’ll start to feel the balance of scales shifting in your favor because nothing breeds success like more success.
Additionally, there are many ways you can help breed success within your team. In an article for the Harvard Business Review, David Sturt found that data from a 2014 study “suggests a strong correlation between loyalty and acknowledgment.” He says, “Among the 512 U.S. employees who say their company has strong recognition practices, 87 percent feel a strong relationship with their direct manager.” You see, sometimes, all you need to boost morale is to recognize the hard work others are putting into your business.
The road to success
Mary Kay Ash, the founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics Inc., had the right idea when she said, “Give yourself something to work toward — constantly.” Whether you choose to go slow or fast is up to you. But, know this: Your journey can be a lot more fluid once you realize the power you have in momentum, completion, reflection and celebration.