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4 Ways to Use Your Down Cycle to Grow

All business owners love when they're riding a positive wave, but how do you deal with the down cycle?

4 Ways to Use Your Down Cycle to Grow

Posted Friday December 02nd, 2016 by in Analysis + Strategy.

Ah Business, how I love thee. Starting and growing your own company is exhilarating, exciting and rewarding. It also scares the living crap out of you when you find yourself strapped into a rock-hard seat, brain squished into the earth's gravitational center, rocketing towards the very bottom of the roller coaster ride.

Ups, downs and roller coaster metaphors aside, business is anything but a linear journey. Many businesses are built on momentum, which is an incredible force for growth when you're riding a positive wave. But how do you deal with the down cycle - the part of the journey that few articles or books deal with? The less glamorous, down-and-almost-out part of the entrepreneur's quest is a surety if you stay in the game long enough. I would argue that these down cycles are perhaps even more important than the up cycles, because the down cycles are what define the character and ambition of an entrepreneur. Having been through a few of these times myself, here are my top 4 recommendations on how to use your down cycle to grow:

1. Start a new venture. Really? Yes...start something new. It could be small or insignificant (like replanting all of your flower beds at home), or it could be big and audacious (like launching an entirely new business). This isn't an exercise in distraction; rather, the respite from your normal routine will jump-start both your passion and your learning. Putting your mind to work in another capacity will give you new, creative insights into your down cycle that you can use to dig yourself out of your trench. Furthermore, the down cycle can be a dark place for entrepreneurs, who may choose to abandon the dream or do something regrettable (like fire everyone in a fit of despair). So, staying stimulated and forward-looking during this time can be critical to keeping your original dream alive.

2. Inhale an education. Pick up every interesting book you can find - business or otherwise - and dedicate time every day to reading. You never know where inspiration might strike, and one thoughtful phrase could be exactly what you need to reach your bottom, achieve an inflection point, and come rocketing up the other side of your business cycle. Plus, you'll learn a few things that you can use when you're back on top!

3. Go away. Take a vacation, spend more time working from home, and otherwise get physically distant from your workplace. Perspective can only be achieved if you put yourself in a position to see the problem from a different point of origin. Although your gut will tell you to stick around the office, work longer hours and otherwise fret over your keyboard, I typically do the opposite. I try to put everything down and gain physical and emotional space from the issues. That distance always helps me gain the right insights.

4. Do some soul-searching. Your down cycle is the perfect time to assess your own happiness and spiritual well-being. Ask yourself: "Even when I feel down-and-out, like my business is hitting a bottom, am I still happy and passionate about what I do?" If the answer is yes, you know you're on the right path. If the answer is no, it's time to reassess what makes you happy. Yes, we all start businesses to make money; but, we must also love the journey. Every entrepreneur I've met who has sold a business has told me that the length of the journey is far better than the moment at which you receive a piece of paper with a number on it in return for years of passionate work.

I've been through my fair share of downs, and I've used all of these tactics to keep myself motivated and moving forward. Giving yourself the feeling of forward momentum at all times is key to staying engaged in the entrepreneurial dream. In business as in life, it's true that what goes up must come down. If you pursue your goals with passion and persevere through your down cycle, you'll also see that what goes down will always come back up!


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