When I look back on my journey, sometimes I wonder, "why would I ever make such a stupid decision?" But, in one case, one of the dumbest things I did turned out to be exactly what I needed.
It was early 2016 and my agency had just lost a big client. It was depressing, to say the least. But, as all entrepreneurs do, I rallied the troops and assured everyone that all would work out just fine. In truth: I had no idea how to overcome the budget deficit or find a new client. And, to make matters worse, I was getting increasingly frustrated as I frantically searched for a solution within the people, processes and products of the agency. That's when I decided to do something really stupid and scary: I turned my back on the business and ignored it entirely.
To be honest, I didn't know what else to do. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't find the magic bullet I needed to dig us out of the proverbial hole. So, I took off my business owner hat, shrugged my shoulders and started focusing elsewhere. And, that's when magical things began to happen.
With my newfound free time, I ventured into New York and joined Entrepreneurs' Organization. I started attending their events and meeting other entrepreneurs. In hanging out with them, I not only benefitted from their inspiration, but also from the tactical strategies their stories taught me. And, since I had drastically reduced my day-to-day management tasks, I had time to vet those strategies. Within a few months, I had learned about game-changing options like the Entrepreneurial Operating System for systematic accountability; the benefits of a niche strategy; scalable models for new business development; and countless venues for learning, including the Young Entrepreneur Council, which I also joined in mid-2016.
The best part of all: When I stopped obsessing over managing employees, developing new business and attacking problems head-on, I realized that the business was just fine without my meddling. In fact, I had done a better job of creating a sustainable structure than I thought, and by the third quarter of last year we were gaining steam once again with new, even better clients. Plus, as we picked up momentum, I had a plethora of new strategies to propel us to the next level, all thanks to my shamefully ignoring my own business.
Now, I can personally say that temporarily ignoring a big challenge is one scary but effective trick to reaching the next level in business. Trust me, it was frightening to let go of the reins while the ship felt like it was going down. But, in retrospect, a truly fresh perspective was exactly what I needed in the very depths of the business cycle. So, the next time you hit a plateau or a business challenge you can't seem to solve, try to ignore it, pick your head up and go explore new opportunities.
You never know what exactly you'll find out there--but that's exactly the point.