Brad Feld, entrepreneur and co-founder of Foundry Group, once wrote in his own Huffington Post piece that his common advice to TechStars teams is to slow down to speed up. "I see so many startups rushing to just get stuff out, without thinking hard about what that stuff is and why anyone would care."
Sound familiar? As entrepreneurs and small business owners, we are programmed to work around the clock and while our customers may be taking time off, we are determined to spend our summer months toiling away at our offices. But, as Feld suggests, that may not be the best way for us to grow our businesses. While you may not be ready to put the phone on mute and enjoy a week at the beach, here are 4 things you can do this summer that will help you slow down and grow your business:
Learn Something New
This is the perfect time of year to learn something new that will actually enhance your business. Learn a foreign language so you can connect with customers and business partners in other countries. Enroll in an improv class to improve your presentational skills and allow you to better pitch your ideas to new clients and investors. Search for local workshops or register for online classes and programs that fit your schedule. Whatever you choose, you will not only have fun learning something new but you will gain valuable skills that will help you grow your business.
Do Something New
Doing the same things each day can land you in a rut and being in a rut is never good for business. Take some time this summer to do something you've never done--whitewater raft, swim in the ocean, or volunteer at a homeless shelter. While doing new things can be scary and sometimes intimidating (remember when you started your business?) it also builds your confidence and gives you a little bit of perspective--allowing you to see all things in completely new ways.
Revisit Your Goals
Those goals you made at the beginning of the year? Dust them off and spend some time with them. What goals did you accomplish? Where did you fall short? Re-assess where you've been as well as where you would like to go--making sure you think hard about what you are doing, why you are doing it and, as Feld says, "why anyone would care." Take some time to realign your daily tasks with your overall business goals to help you stay on track.
Explore Your Ideas
Using my Evernote app on my phone, I am able to write down ideas that come to me in the most unusual moments--riding in a cab, cooking dinner, walking the dog. While my phone is always with me, I must admit, that I rarely take time to look back at those nuggets of inspiration and see how I can add them to my business. Spend time this summer exploring your ideas and seeing how they may become a part of growing your brand. In addition, spend time getting inspired--walk around your neighborhood, visit a museum, take in a street festival. As a social entrepreneur, I also recommend getting inspired by your cause--spending time with others who are passionate about what you are doing as well as those who your cause affects.
I realize slowing down is against the nature of most entrepreneurs and even seems counterintuitive to us as a way to grow our business. If we give ourselves space to breathe, to think, to reflect, we are actually giving into the idea that our businesses--and our missions--can be bigger and more successful than what we've imagined.
This blogger graduated from Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.