One of the unexpected lessons I’ve learned and continue to improve upon throughout this process, is recognizing the false illusion of urgency. Often times when people find a solution to a problem that is not currently being addressed in the market, they develop this fear that if they don’t launch their solution tomorrow, someone else will. On a more micro level, you can get so caught up in executing, and checking off your to-do list that you rush ahead without understanding the scope or impact of the decisions you make. Putting this imaginary countdown on important objectives is natural. We’ve been conditioned to do it our entire lives. From having a fixed amount of time to finish exams, to arriving at the airport 3 hours before an international flight...you’re rewarded for respecting, and meeting deadlines.
So why should running your own company be any different? In my entrepreneurial journey to date, the majority of rushed decisions I’ve made have been due to arbitrary deadlines I have imposed on myself. My default setting as a human is to “act first, ask questions later”, and having the freedom to do this with my business whenever I please is one of the most rewarding aspects of being an entrepreneur. Additionally, setting up deadlines holds me accountable, and allows me to stay efficient in my day-to-day initiatives. However, moving full speed ahead and making quick decisions has at times caused unnecessary headaches for me and my business. For example, on the production side of things, I cut corners with quality control checks and size/measurement approvals on a production run last year. I did the bare minimum so we could get our products online and sell them as soon as possible. The time we made up in deliveries to the warehouse did not outweigh the less than amazing experience some customers had. Not by a million miles. Had I allowed myself another week or two to thoroughly trust the process, we could’ve turned sub-par product experiences into incredible ones. Another time where I made quick decisions that weren’t the best, happened to be on the partnership side of things. I rushed an agreement with an Instagram influencer in order to meet a random start date we both agreed on. This time I was in such a rush to agree that I committed to terms I didn’t read thoroughly through, and thus couldn’t honor. If I had just “slept on it” and reviewed the plan with fresh eyes, I would’ve been able to highlight the issue.
Every day, business owners make hundreds if not thousands of decisions; some small and some potentially life-changing. It’s a constant game to identify which decisions look like they’re urgent, and which truly need immediate attention...although again the large majority of choices you need to make should have some breathing room. And because most decisions have some time, I try and use an approach I first learned on the lacrosse field. There’s a concept in sports called “slow-play”, and skilled athletes will implement it sometimes when playing. Slow-play involves withholding from any immediate action so you can determine the best move to take. In a game, instead of lunging for the ball or trying to guard the opponent, you might sit back and see what they do. In business, you can “slow-play” by not acting immediately, and gathering more information before deciding the best move to make. Some people think business can be analogized to chess, but the concept of slow-playing decisions is the #1 reason I think this is a fallacy. In chess, you must always move before and after your opponent (unless of course you’ve been checkmated). Yes, there is an opportunity to develop a strategy and anticipate future moves in chess, but in a real business decision-making environment you can use time to your benefit.
The learnings I developed from rushing too quickly into decisions has been critical to my development as an entrepreneur. Every time I have a choice to make, I always think about the true deadline or time I have. Being able to gather more information, or even taking a few days to mull the decision over can be incredibly valuable to the path your company takes.