Take a Step Back

Productivity guru David Allen on entrepreneurship…

Many successful entrepreneurs I have worked with over the years could be characterized (and have been, by their employees and friends) as ‘highly creative control freaks.’ It’s understandable because usually it takes that kind of strong, directed energy to create a business, to make something out of nothing. Much like a parent will go to superhuman lengths to protect its vulnerable offspring, someone who gives birth to an enterprise almost of necessity must have skin as thick as an elephant’s and the aggressive/defensive capacity of a samurai warrior. It takes tremendous focus, determination, and, yes, a certain lack of sensitivity, to create something new and get it to stick around in this world.

Sometimes it is easy to get stuck in the day-to-day minutiae of running your business, but it’s important to step back occasionally and look at things from the standpoint of exactly what it is you’re trying to build. The successful venture outlives its founder, so what do you want to leave behind? How can you best incubate your business now to ensure that the company’s future unfolds as planned?

Bill Gates (who, I think we all can agree is a fairly successful entrepreneur) sets aside everything he wants to read, and once a year goes on secluded “reading weeks” where he sits by a fire and parses through reams of information. It was on one of these reading weeks that he decided to split with IBM and push Windows instead of OS/2– no doubt the turning point in the company’s road to dominance. Had he not removed himself from the day-to-day stress of running Microsoft and taken the time to think about trends within his company and its industry he might not have made the same call.

Without stepping back and analyzing what is and isn’t working in your company, and how it relates to the big picture, you can’t grow in a controlled way. You may grow, but it might not be in the direction you want. Take the time– you’ll be glad you did.