How to Make Time Your Friend
By Kevin Daum, Contributor
Business people are constantly in a hurry. They have no shortage of justification. They want to get the new product out fast and be the first to market, or be the first mover in tech, or build sales quickly before they run out of cash. For those reasons, many have a tense relationship with time. They are thinking there’s never enough of it, it is not on their side, they’re working against it, it’s the enemy, etc.
Rather than your enemy, time can be your ally. There are many benefits to taking your time, moving a little more slowly and deliberating. Whether you are building a company or your career, if you learn to work with time, it not only reduces stress, but can produce better and more valuable results. Here are five ways you can get time on your side:
1.Work the bugs out of a new system.
The problem with rushing an item to market is that fatal problems can be overlooked. It doesn’t take long before customers go from great excitement to disappointment and anger, especially if they have paid a lot of money for something new. New products and systems always have a few kinks. Everyone knows it, early adopters expect it, and most customers will cut you a little slack. That doesn’t mean they appreciate having to deal with constant patches, recalls, or updates. If you wait a bit before release to make sure everything is working smoothly, you look like you have a lot more on the ball than the competition.
2. Do the thought and analysis that produces bigger and better ideas.
Everyone loves to tell the story of the brilliant idea that suddenly occurred to them in an unguarded moment–waking in the morning, or getting out of the shower, or sitting in traffic. But most great ideas don’t come to fruition without careful thought and investigation. Those moments may seem like they drop from the sky, but inspiration doesn’t actually come from nowhere. It comes from preparation and education. If you want to have more of those incredible flashes of genius, you need to spend time reading, thinking and talking to smart people. Your subconscious mind will collate all the data you put in and reward you with the great ideas that drive success.
3. Deliver proof of concept and rally support.
You know who doesn’t like to rush? Investors. Sure, they like to be the first to discover a winning company, but most have learned from hard experience that not every seemingly great idea will be widely accepted, and every bubble will eventually bust. They want evidence that your brilliant new idea will actually be accepted in the marketplace and ultimately deliver the ROI they want. If you can demonstrate that you’ve done the research and that your numbers really are solid, your idea will get a lot more attractive. That means slowing down and putting everything together with care and precision. You also need real feedback to make the adjustments that will improve the odds of success. Time helps you show that buyers will actually buy given the right impetus and become raving fans.
4. Work out a strategy to put your competitors miles behind.
A competitor can most likely replicate anything you do quickly. If you want true differentiators, you need to create aspects that your competitors can’t or won’t do without great effort or expense. One side effect of hurrying is that it diminishes your ability to pay attention to what’s going on around you. Slowing down allows you to observe more fully, to pay attention to what your competition is doing, and to anticipate their moves. Then you can slowly and methodically create a strategy that will put them years behind you.
5. Hone your “opportunity sense.”
You can enjoy the Metropolitan Museum of Art in a few hours or over a few days. The general overview is nice and uplifting but a more detailed study will expand your thinking and worldview. Taking time to slowly and carefully observe your industry’s behavior and trends allows you to see new and big possibilities as they emerge. The earlier you spot a potential opportunity, the more time you have to take advantage of it, and the further you will get ahead of the rushed, distracted players in the game. Over time you can also gauge momentum to determine the appropriate investment of time and resources. The winners in business are not the fastest, but those who recognize patterns and learn to slowly and consistently make a series of right choices capitalizing on them.
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Want more Kevin? Here are three more columns available on Inc.