The “Busy-ness” Myth: Why a Little Downtime Might Be the Best Thing for Your Business Growth and Success

First, let’s be clear… this is not one of those “feel-good but little-substance” articles trying to pretend that the COVID-19 shutdown and economic crisis isn’t crushing the hopes and dreams of many American business owners. It’s not intended to be glib or a puff piece that tries to get you to simply “see the bright side.”

Well… not really. Hopefully, it does help you to see a brighter side of all this strife and stress that we as business owners have been dealing with for the last few months. However, the goal is not to do so by insulting your intelligence or common sense with a few cliche’s such as. “This too shall pass,” or “You probably needed the break.”

Of course, all entrepreneurs and business owners are likely always a little overworked. Thus, sure, we could all probably benefit physically and mentally from a little down time. However, the point of this piece is a little more — a little bigger — than that.

Most of the time business owners are so busy working in our business, we forget to work on our business. We think that if we are “busy” we must be moving forward in a positive way… right? Yet, could it be that we often get so caught up in the busy-ness of running a business that we might miss other long-term threats or opportunities that could create a much greater impact over time?

That’s why it might just be true… a little down time might be the best thing for your business growth and success… whether it feels like it or not.

Again, the intent of this article is not to make light of the pain and suffering many small business owners and companies are facing right now. On the other hand, since many of us have been forced to slow down whether we like it or not, it is also important to take a step back and see if there are some positives we can take from this time.

Here are just three benefits a business owner or business might see from a little “down time”:

  1. Downtime allows time for reflection, evaluation, and strategic planning that often get overlooked when we are busy.

No business is going to achieve or realize its best possible growth and success if you are so busy running through the motions that you lose sight of longer-term goals and strategy. In fact, often times we are like that hamster on a wheel that seems like it’s working so hard and fast but not really making true “progress.” On the other hand, when we have the opportunity take a moment and start asking questions about “why” and “how” we are doing certain things, we usually identify factors that will be much more beneficial to us and our company in the future. Examples such as where efficiencies can be put in place to maximize profit or streamline workflows are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.  By using this time to work on those things, you should find yourself in a stronger position again much sooner when things get back to normal.

  • We are forced to look at where and how we might either be wasting money or leaving money on the table.

No doubt, many of us are feeling strain in our business “pocketbook” right now. However, many business owners are also reporting that this has forced them to delve deeply into where they might be wasting money. Again, because they were so “busy” before, this was something that was often getting overlooked or neglected.

Likewise, it has forced a lot of us to consider whether we might be ignoring additional revenue opportunities. A good example of this can be seen in restaurants that have optimized their to-go dining. Another place this can be seen is in the benefits curbside pickup has uncovered for retail outlets since many are finding customers are actually ordering and spending more when the pickup experience is simpler. And let’s not forget the rise of services from grocery stores where people shop for you and then deliver the groceries to your house. Many big and small stores alike have added or partnered with such services and they are seeing profits go up — or at least only minimally decline — as well.

Basically, businesses that have looked at this time as an opportunity to innovate may find that creative enthusiasm bubbling over into other areas of the business as well, so that its literally being reinvented in new and exciting ways that may have been ignored in busier times.

  • We are quite literally forced to slow down a little ourselves. Since we are the backbone of our business, this can be powerful.

Often, when we are so busy being busy, our personal mental and physical health can suffer. This means we can’t possibly be the leader we need to be, for the greatest success, for and within our business. This “respite” for business owners is something many are reporting is the saving graces of the economic shutdown. In other words, many business owners have used this as a time to re-charge and re-invigorate themselves. In the long-term, this can provide a plethora of benefits not only for you, but also for your business too!

While your business may be struggling still, that’s not fun and hopefully, this too WILL pass quickly. Yet, if you have not yet done soon, it may still be worthwhile to consider these points or take a lesson from businesses you do see re-inventing themselves, to consider whether that is something you can or should do with your business. You never know what hidden gems in the form of new ideas, income streams, or processes, you might uncover that can have your business come out on the other side of these challenges ready to kick butt and be stronger than ever.