The different rhythms of business life require different perspectives on time

Pocket watch showing time

One of the many interesting aspects of working with business owners is their view on timescales. They can be impatient when things don’t happen quickly enough, yet display a lack of urgency when action is required.

A business has many cycles of activity. It is a constant juggling act and takes a particular skill to be comfortable in managing each business activity to its correct rhythm.

Some may be long-term, such as your business plan, new product development, and financing; others short and quick – a customer purchase, product delivery or payment.

If you overlay the life cycle of any particular company as it goes through planning, start-up, initial sales, scaling, systemisation, maturing, refresh and so on each phase has its own inherent ‘pace’. Start-up is characterised by frenetic activity and a rush to get the first revenues in the door. It’s not surprising therefore that in this phase the business owner sees the world through a very short time frame and feels impatience at anything that requires more time to bear fruit.

In a mature business many of the activities are familiar and well-oiled and with this the timescales tend to stretch out. However a maturing business also needs to guard against atrophy so it may be necessary to inject more pace, for example into new service innovation.

The following are some examples where we have seen the needs of the business and the pace of management out of sync:

  1. Cash flow management. Invariably smaller businesses need to speed up their invoice and collection cycles. Being too busy to issue invoices or nervous about enforcing payment terms is a recipe for cash flow problems and slower growth.
  2. People and team development. This is an area where we see impatience with new team members who need proper induction and training before they can fully deliver value in their roles.
  3. Proposition. Getting the right product or service into the market can take time and multiple iterations. As a business owner you need to be both patient in getting your proposition right and decisive to withdraw or modify what isn’t working.
  4. Pricing. Customers receiving good service tend to be resilient and accepting of price increases, the planning of which should be part of your usual business practices.
  5. Wealth creation. Play the long game and ensure the business is getting the benefits of reinvested profits to sustain its growth. This is the longest and slowest of the business cycles as it spans the whole life of the company. Your patience will be rewarded.

There are many aphorisms and wise words about ‘time’, in short the essence is “sometimes you have to slow down to get to your destination more quickly”.

If you sense that some aspects of your business need to speed up or there are others that need more time contact us for an informal initial conversation. One of our attributes is being able to work at your pace and get in sync with your business.