As a small business owner, I know that there’s tremendous pressure—both from yourself and from others—to always be looking for new ways to help your small business grow.
We read blog posts, participate in forums, sign up for email newsletters, and attend webinars all offering advice on the 51 things we need to be doing yesterday to increase everything 1000x. But I’ll bet that half the time you finish each day even more uncertain about what to do to help your small business grow.
Well, allow me to throw one more piece of advice on the pile: you shouldn’t be afraid to slow down.
My family has its share of accomplished gardeners, and when you start talking about caring for plants the concept of rest just keeps coming up.
Rotate your crops to let the soil rest. Don’t over-prune your hedges to let the branches rest, recover, and grow new shoots. Learn that most plants are happy with a type of care best described as “benign neglect”.
No plant can grow at full tilt, all the time.
Too Much of a Good Thing
People, and the businesses they run, operate by the same rules (although we try to ignore them sometimes). The constant avalanche of advice, both on-line and off, about what you can do to help your small business grow, makes resting seem like wasted time.
The advice-givers sometimes amplify this by adding urgency to their advice, either the positive kind (“do this NOW to TRIPLE your opt-ins”) or the negative kind (“what mistakes does your website make that could land you IN JAIL?!?”).
Despite my best efforts to keep my advice positive and low-pressure, I know I slip every now and again. And sometimes even positive, low-pressure advice is too much.
So let just say: it’s okay to take things slow, at a pace that is right for you. And it’s also okay—no, necessary—to stop for a rest sometimes.
How to Help Your Small Business Grow by Slowing Down
I don’t want to contribute any further to your business advice overload, so let’s get to the list!
1. Prune your Subscription Lists
I know, each newsletter or online forum has the potential to have some amazing insight that you can’t afford to miss.
But if you’re too busy to read all of them and too overwhelmed to figure out which advice is right for you, what’s the point? Keep only the ones you look forward to reading or visiting, and give the rest the axe.
2. Stop checking your stats
Humans love games, and watching your online stats is a particularly addictive one. How many followers do you have today? Shares? Likes? Favorites? Hits to your website? Signups to your newsletter? Sales? Stop!
Make a promise to yourself that you won’t check your stats more than once a week. Unless you’re getting tens of thousands of visits to your site a day, a week is pretty much the minimum amount of data you need to make meaningful inferences. Want to go pro? Only check once a MONTH!
3. Don’t do anything to your website
Don’t install that new plugin. Don’t rearrange your home page again. Don’t rewrite the meta descriptions on all your blog posts for the fifth time in as many weeks. Let it rest.
Like I just said, for most small business websites a week is the minimum amount of time you need to wait to see what the effect of a change is, and you really should be waiting at least a month to flatten out normal variability. So log out of your admin panel and take the dog (or cat, or iguana, or tarantula) for a walk.
4. Put your social media on autopilot
I’m going to guess your business has active accounts on at least three social media networks. Maybe more. If you are posting to each network individually, by hand, you are spending way too much time on social media.
Try out a service like Viraltag, Buffer, or Hootsuite (depending on what social media networks you use—they all support a different mix). They let you schedule posts in advance, so you can spend a couple of hours one day a week queuing up all of your social media posts for the next seven days—and then forget about it.
5. Go Outside
Those are two of my dog’s favorite words. Actually, to him they are part of his favorite word, which is spelled “goferwalkOUTSIDE?!?!?” They should be your favorite words as well. I actually don’t care if you go outside, to the gym, the library, the movies, a concert, or if you just take a long nap.
The point here is to get off the internet and stop thinking about how you are going to help your small business grow today. Let your brain rest and think about other things. Get inspired by something simple. You’ll come back more motivated, more focused, and in a much better mood.
OK, why are you still reading?
Let me say it again: get off the internet and stop thinking about how you are going to help your small business grow today. Take the day off. Get some rest! It will all still be here when you get back, and you know what? It won’t be as bad as you remember, and you’ll be energized and ready to get back to work again—slowly and sustainably. Have fun!