Slow Down to Speed Up



I’ve spent a career scaling up companies.  A life of running hard, making things happen, getting things done. Every day. Head down. Pushing through. Wake up and do it all over again. Sound familiar?


As a lifelong ‘learner’, I’m always looking for ways other people have been successful, gaining useful tips and ideas that can accelerate the outcomes I’m looking for.

Recently, I rediscovered a gem that will help you achieve the highest level of success:  SLOW DOWN to SPEED UP. 

It probably feels wrong just reading that.  I know I pushed back. You might be thinking, as did I, “I don’t have the luxury of slowing down.  There’s no one else to do the work. I HAVE TO RUN THIS HARD.”  

And that’s the growth trap owners get caught in.  When you don’t slow down to develop others, you will never have time for the truly valuable… time to think… to really think, not just react... time to just BE. When you create that space and give yourself permission to stop and think, stop and brainstorm, truly amazing things can happen.

Mount Everest. Think of scaling up your business akin to scaling the tallest mountain in the world.  You don’t do Everest in a day.  You work your way to a base camp where you rest, recover, and plan for the next portion of the journey.  

The same is true in your family business.  You need to SLOW DOWN in order to think, collaborate, and develop the future.  This ‘slow down’ time allows ideas to simmer and become more clear.  With a clearer picture, you can speed up again.  

Here’s another analogy… racing. Elite race car drivers have a counterintuitive approach to reaching super fast speeds – Go slow to go smooth. And go smooth to go fast.  To drive the fastest cars on the planet, you literally need to slow down to speed up. 

So what does SLOW DOWN to SPEED UP look like in your family business? 

It’s creating the TIME to invest in: 

  • developing your key people and help them become the best versions of themselves in those position
  • identifying and mentoring your successor – maybe the most important thing you do as the owner  
  • planning your company’s growth not by being IN the business but working ON the business  


What does SLOW DOWN to SPEED UP look like for your family?

It’s creating the TIME to invest in: 

  • Creating a safe structure that will facilitate communication between family members
  • Discussing as a family the vision for the family business
  • Forming your family values and teaching how to live them
  • Outlining how the family and business will interact with one another
  • Sharing why you are even in the business you are in
  • Developing governance as well the family members who have interest in working in the business
  • Having the crucial conversations that need to be had, that far too many avoid

Investing money in the business is easy. 

Investing time – real DEEP think time – in the business is hard. It requires physical, mental & emotional bandwidth that you will only achieve by embracing SLOW DOWN to SPEED UP. 

THIS may be THE MOST important thing you can do for your family business in the year ahead. You will be amazed at how this one oxymoron has the power to transform your business growth and the family legacy. I know what it has done from me.


Tom Garrity is managing partner at Compass Point Consulting, based in Bethlehem, PA, a business consulting firm specializing in family-owned companies, primarily in the manufacturing, construction & professional service industries. Compass Point provides hands-on consulting & coaching to help businesses close performance gaps; give owners practical, actionable tools that drive growth; deliver training to develop leaders and position the business for successful ownership transition - all on their terms.

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