Sometimes entrepreneurs need to downshift
By Adil Wali , 2nd Sep 2011

Most entrepreneurs I talk to seem to think there are two speeds when it comes to their business: fast and faster. The reality is there’s an appropriate speed for each stage in an entrepreneur’s journey. You really can go too fast at times.

The early stages of a business venture are usually times where entrepreneurs find themselves in what I call ‘fast-wheel drive’. It seems like you can never do things fast enough. The excitement level is soaring and it seems like everything needs to get done yesterday. As the business takes shape, if you’re lucky enough to get traction and it starts to really take off, it pulls you along for the ride like front-wheel drive.

I’ve been fortunate to have been involved with hyper-growth businesses for the past 4 or 5 years and I’ve been going really fast. It’s definitely invigorating, and sometimes exhausting. But there comes a time in your journey when you need to pull out the map and decide where you’re going next. You don’t want to go too fast at this point because you don’t want to make mistakes and you don’t want to overlook potential opportunities. That’s when you need to downshift.

Downshifting is not a bad thing

I find myself in downshift mode now because I decided it was time to move on and start another company. In downshift mode, I’m realizing I have to push things along like rear-wheel drive or they won’t get done. Nothing’s pulling me along right now. I don’t need to move at warp speed, so why would I?

Downshifting shouldn’t be considered a bad thing. I know I’m at the point where I need to move carefully and deliberately. I know I’m in a time of transition where I need to embrace change. I also know I’ll get to a point where I get back into speedway mode and go much faster. But right now isn’t that time.

Downshifting is just another fascinating part of the entrepreneurial journey. To me, it’s an important one.

About the Author

Hi, I’m Adil Wali. I became a Microsoft certified professional at age 14 and started my first web development company. That led to a career as a serial entrepreneur, advisor, and startup investor. I got my first “real job” at 33, and I’m now a FinTech executive with a passion for the markets.