How Taking A Step Back Can Lead To Business Growth


For most business owners, the saying “one step forward, two steps back” sounds miserable, but in many cases, taking a step backward can propel you forward and actually change your life for the better.

As an entrepreneur, you have responsibilities outside work. These might include providing for your family’s needs, teaching your children values and growing your relationships. It’s a lot to manage, especially when you’re bogged down fixing issues in your business or exhausted from overwork.

If your business demands so much time that it becomes the obstacle that keeps you from doing the things you’ve always said you wanted to do, it can leave you feeling defeated and depleted, no matter how “successful” you are.

Business owners who feel stuck in their business must first create systems. These systems not only benefit you and your family. They benefit the people in your business and can fuel the growth of your business like wildfire when implemented properly.

My company recently walked a client through this process. I hope following this process will be transformative for your business and life, as well. The client and his family lived a life that from the outside would seem normal. They would take a vacation once per year and go out to dinner once or twice per week.

They would spend as much time together as they could, but something was missing, causing him and his family to suffer because of it. As a business owner, you can likely relate to this story. Things are going well enough — but not great. It’s not what you envisioned your life looking or feeling like.

Our client was a reliable and diligent business owner. He showed up when he said he would. His attention to quality fed his business so he got most of his business through word of mouth. In fact, he would have to turn business away because he was too busy. So, where’s the problem?

The problem was that he was the business. He had a couple helpers working for him, but it was just one small crew. If he couldn’t schedule something on his personal calendar, it couldn’t get done. He came to us looking to outsource his accounting. It was his first step to buy time back.

Over a few calls, he opened up about how much he hated his current business situation, so I asked him, “Why don’t you do what you did with your accounting and unload more of the workload and responsibilities in other parts of your business?”

The first step is always the hardest, because oftentimes, it’s a step back. Most business owners know that if they can start delegating in more areas of their business, they will be able to do what they want. They can live a life of financial freedom and time freedom. They can create more memories with their family and take back control of their life.

After some review, I explained to our client that he would easily qualify for equipment financing with little upfront capital. This would mean he could hire another crew, doubling his ability to serve his customers.

The key to duplicating yourself is duplicating the systems and processes that allow for quality of work to remain high. For most, this is the biggest step back. You see margins drop and your time expenditure temporarily increases. It is predictably more chaotic and uncomfortable.

On the other side of that hard work, though, is a fully operating replica of your workmanship without you doing the work. For people like the client above, this means not having to turn down jobs or work overtime. You can then duplicate your craftsmanship as needed to service growing business inquiries.

To do so, there are a couple of steps you can take in your business to help ensure it stays healthy as you grow. First is ensuring you have a personal runway: Lower margins will mean less available money for you as the owner. Be ready for this with your own finances by not making any large personal purchases that will overextend you before scaling. This should be obvious but can get you into trouble if you’re expecting to be able to pay yourself more in the beginning of the scaling process.

If you’re financing equipment and hiring more crews, your monthly expenses will increase drastically. Be prepared for this by ensuring you have a full pipeline. Make sure you allocate some of your budget to ramp up your marketing, and pay attention to the number of projects you earn from word-of-mouth referrals so you can estimate how many leads you’ll get per project your first team accomplishes.

Also, ensuring you have a lead generation system in place that you can dial up or dial back is key. Not just relying on word of mouth but having an avenue of getting leads through paid ads and understanding how much those leads generally cost and how many convert to customers will also allow you to have more security in scaling. It will feel less risky and you’ll have a feeling of investing your money into your future instead of risking the future of your company trying to build it bigger.

Eventually, you will be able to fully step back and own the business instead of being owned by the business. But how? Create leaders from within your organization. Train them to take ownership of their work by incentivizing with bonuses tied to profit earned and created. Create bullet-proof standard operating procedures that allow high-quality work to be replicated on every job. Invest in your team members’ success so they’ll invest in yours.

What happened with our client? Within 18 months, he has four crews and only has to work 20 hours a week doing the creative stuff he prefers. The best part? It’s attainable for you, too, if you are willing to take the leap of stepping back to skyrocket your business growth.

Cofounder Easier Accounting & Real Business Owners. 20+ years of experience growing & running multiple businesses. Author & public speaker. Read Kale Goodman’s full executive profile here.

Source: How Taking A Step Back Can Lead To Business Growth



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When Meditation and Spirituality Become Obstacles To Maturation

Many skilled Western meditators have noted an uncomfortable gap between their “spiritual” aspect and their everyday personality. For some, it is tempting to use meditation to withdraw from unpleasant feelings or relationship conflicts into a meditative “safe zone.”

One representative example is found the online magazine Aeon. In July 2019, it brought a thoughtful article, “The Problem of Mindfulness,” from a university student, Sahanika Ratnayake.

Sahanika had begun to meditate in her teenage years and then found that the very practice of neutral witnessing interfered with her ability to form judgments about the situations that she was in. She felt as if a membrane had formed between her and the events of her life and the events in the news.

Very sensibly, she ended up using neutral witnessing much more sparingly—and I suspect that loving-kindness meditations might have been helpful as well. What she experienced was not meditative witnessing but dissociation.

Meditation and Immaturity

Other meditators long for glowing visions of divine figures or intricate dreams and past-life images of their spiritual belonging or importance—events that can counterbalance low self-esteem. Others seem to seek refuge in performance: counting daily hours of meditation, collecting data on time spent as a quality guarantee for a valuable life.

Also, a sense of entitlement can easily sneak in: “Because I am such a good and spiritual person, I am entitled to . . . (your love and admiration, your money, sex with you whether you want it or not, the right to throw temper tantrums, the right not to get criticized, not to get disturbed)”—fill in your own favorite privilege. Of course, this is not spirituality but immaturity.

Seeking Comfort

It is important to realize that meditation and prayer don’t automatically create a mature personality. They develop skills in meditating and praying. Interestingly, modern Jungian psychologists have been very alive to this issue. One excellent author on the subject is Robert Moore, whose descriptions are much with me. He writes about the immature tendency to seek comfort in grandiosity (Moore, 2003).

In his view, grandiosity can be either directly self-centered (“I am amazing”) or referred to the group that a person identifies with (“I have the true religion/football team/et cetera)” or to a teacher (“I myself am nothing, but my spiritual teacher or organization is the one true way,” or at the very least “My teacher and spiritual path are better than your teacher and spiritual path”).

Spiritual Sensitivity

Another pitfall is “spiritual sensitivity,” which can be understood as being too sensitive to bear facing the pain of other people or of the world. This position is not exclusive to people with a spiritual practice, and it is also not a sign of purity, but the result of being caught at the maturation level of emotional contagion.

This term refers to the normal emotional maturity that is most evident in the infant at around three to eight months of age. It describes states in which we resonate with the feeling of another person but get caught in that feeling instead of being able to embrace it, feeling it fully and holding it with kindness.

Empathy and Maturation

When we can access slightly higher levels of maturity, we feel more separate, and this makes it possible to develop empathy. This emerges around the age of sixteen to eighteen months of age, and it transforms our emotional resonance into a feeling of care directed to the other.

From empathy we can take a step further in maturation, developing the ability to create a mental image of what the other is experiencing and then reality-testing it—checking it, combining mental clarity with empathy into an attitude of compassion that reaches out to the actual need rather than to our fantasy of the need.

More Meditation Pitfalls

But we are not quite done with the pitfalls. Once we can think about the inner states of others, we can lose the empathic resonance in favor of a safe mental ivory tower of thoughts, explanations, and disengaged mirror-like witnessing. Compassion is the opposite of disengagement. Itliterally means “with-passion” or “in-touch.” We touch pain and joy and allow it to touch us and move us, and perhaps move us to action—but not to drown us.

I might add a final, universal, primitive dynamic: “us” versus “them.” Once again, these issues are not caused by contemplative practices (or religion in general), but contemplative practices do not resolve them. If they did, groups with a high value on prayer and meditation would have little or no conflict, their leadership would be free of aggressive or underhanded competition, and their organizational hierarchies would be helpful and benign.

Splitting into “us” and “them” just wouldn’t happen. Perhaps we would have just one inclusive world religion in which everyone would be able to find common ground and accept each other’s inevitable differences.

Instead, the social dynamics of spiritual organizations and spiritual leadership look just like that of all the other human activities, from war to politics to football to cooking, with mature and immature behavior all mixed together, scandals, infighting, great teamwork here and there, greed, power games, lies, compassionate behavior, sexual abuse, and all the rest of the whole glorious mess of human social life.

The hard fact of human maturation and brain development is that you get better at what you do more of, and you lose skills that you don’t use. Learning meditation and prayer will not make us better at resolving conflicts with other people, because the two practices require different skill set. Meditating will make you better at meditating.

Learning to resolve conflicts in relationships

Faced with questions from students about deeply personal problems and existential issues, many meditation masters have come up with a compassionate cry: “Meditate more! Let go! It will pass!” This is true, everything will pass, including us, but in the meantime, maturity is about taking responsibility for something more than our own comfort or development.

In this century, we are waking up to sharing the care of a whole world. In your daily relationships, this means that no matter how innocent, pure, or spiritual you might feel, if there is a conflict in one of your relationships, understanding yourself as part of this conflict is an essential skill. Learning to work well with others and learning to resolve painful issues in your intimate life and your friendships will develop this skill. It will also give you more depth if and when you meditate.

Learning to resolve conflicts in relationships is likely to enhance your spiritual practice, if you have one. In exactly the same way, a spiritual practice is likely to help you with your relationship issues, if you want to learn how to resolve relationship pain. All learning has an innate structure. It adapts to other fields. Once you know three languages well, a fourth is easier to learn.

In my own experience, it holds true that deep insights about learning transfer well across different fields, such as meditation, relationship issues, and animal training. As I continue to learn how to train a dog or a horse, as well as my recently adopted red-tailed boa Cassie, I improve my ability to listen into animals. During that often frustrating process, I develop nonverbal cues and discover nonverbal principles of how to listen to the aliveness and readiness of my own consciousness—and how to listen to the aliveness of students, clients, friends, and last, but not least, my husband.

photo of the author: Marianne Bentzen

By: Marianne Bentzen

Marianne is a psychotherapist and trainer in neuroaffective development psychology. The author and coauthor of many professional articles and books, including The Neuroaffective Picture Book, she has taught in 17 countries and presented at more than 35 international and national conferences.


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