Why it’s OK to grow slowly…

Didn’t you read the tortoise and the hare?

We’ve become a culture of speed. Fast and furious, the rat race blazes ahead in all aspects of life. Everyone wants the quick trick to losing weight, the fast track to success, and to become an overnight millionaire. “HUSTLE, HUSTLE, HUSTLE,” is the mantra chanted by many in the business world — but is it the only way? I don’t think so.

When everyone else is doing something, it’s easy to follow.

Fast is easy — everyone is doing it.
Slow is hard — it requires discipline and patience.

Growing fast looks something like this: You want to look like all of the “big shots” in whatever industry you’re in and think you need all of the fancy swag. Obviously a nice office is needed and ritzy furniture to go along with it. And a top of the line luxury sedan or over-sized extended cab truck will of course be obligatory to establish credibility. Last, but not least you must hire with a frenzy before someone else snatches up all the talent. Right?

All of this often involves getting into debt, bringing in investors you may not be a fit for, or a combination of both. As a result, your “incredible, awesome, one-of-a-kind idea” no longer really belongs to you, it belongs to the bank.

SLOW THE HECK DOWN!

Growing slow means building within your means and thinking before spending. It may mean you’re not the first to market, but it may also mean you stand the test of time.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying don’t work hard. Growing slowly has nothing to do with lack of effort, it just means learning to be creative within your constraints and embracing them. Growing slowly means not being foolish enough to think that if your idea is not launched tomorrow you will fail. You’re much more likely to fail by growing too fast.

Don’t believe me? Look at Apple — even with a virtually unlimited supply of cash, they still grow slow (or at least that’s what the media would have you believe). Competitors are pushing products out left and right that might not be ready (see Microsoft Surface, Samsung Gear Watch, Google Glass, etc.), but Apple is disciplined enough to let their ideas grow before they start selling fruit that’s not ripe yet. Where is the grand AppleTV or iWatch that’s supposedly in development? They’re not done yet, they’re not ready for launch. They’re growing slowly.

Some would say “fail fast and fail often,” but I’d rather grow through continual and measurable successes rather over constant small failures.

Fifteen years ago, I started a web design business — www.designextensions.com. (Shamless plug!) That business has grown year over year since 1999 — slow, but steady. Maybe we could have grown bigger and faster during that time period, but by growing slowly, we’ve become extremely stable. And since I have four kids to feed, I’ll take stable any day over higher risk.

Will you miss opportunites by growing slow?
Absolutely. And that’s ok.

I’m not saying don’t take chances or risks. Just don’t be foolish about them and think that everything must happen today. Be willing to spend the time researching what others have done, ask for help, search the internet, find a mentor, and be smart about growth. Be smart enough to grow slowly and your risks to be more calculated and successful.

Like a good wine, be willing to let ideas breathe from time to time.

There will be many hares that sprint past you on the journey to success and one day, you, the tortoise, will stroll past them as they sit worn out on the side of the road. Smile, nod, and even stop to help — but keep moving, slowly, successfully, forward.