Remedies For Checking Out, Part I

By Chuck Violand

September 11, 2017

A few years ago, I wrote a booklet about a condition I call Stage 2 Stall™. This is where a Stage 2 company, defined as $1M-$50M in annual revenue, experiences growth that either stops or declines for two or more consecutive years. In the booklet, I highlight four of the leading causes of this condition: Loss of Focus, Checking Out, Arrested Professional Growth, and Swollen Ego and offer remedies to correct them.

A reader of the booklet recently asked me to expand on some of the ways he could recognize and avoid Checking Out. Here are a few suggestions.

Start by clarifying for yourself whether you truly are checking out. Becoming distracted or having a moment of mental weakness doesn’t necessarily mean this is the case. These may just be ways for you to take a few needed mental breathers.

Mentally disengaging from our companies, or checking out, usually happens slowly. Sometimes we don’t even notice it ourselves, although those who work closely with us often do. If we’ve created an open and safe environment for our people to express their opinions, they’ll let us know if we ask.

If you’ve decided that you are checking out, then the next step is to look for the underlying reasons as to why this might be happening. This will require a lot of introspection and candor on your part. Again, it may also require asking some of the people around you for their opinions.

Am I bored? Being bored is a common condition for entrepreneurs. Most who start businesses are high energy, take-charge people who like to make their own rules. They thrive on the adrenalin rush they get from creating new things, solving problems, and the world of fast growth. Most become easily bored, or at least impatient, with routine or the slower pace of steady growth. If you’re a highly intelligent, high-energy person you’re even more susceptible.

To combat boredom, it’s helpful to revisit the reasons you started your business in the first place, and these reasons usually go deeper than just earning the next buck. Was it to provide a certain lifestyle for your family? To prove something to yourself, or to the people around you or those you grew up with? Was it to carry on a family legacy or create one? Rediscovering the original reasons for starting your business often triggers a renewed commitment.

Investigate the types of work that excited you when you launched your business. Was it building relationships and the thrill of closing new customers? Maybe it was solving the technical challenges your customers brought to you or developing the talents of the people in your organization. Just because your title may come along with certain responsibilities that don’t excite you, that doesn’t mean you need to completely abandon all the things you once enjoyed doing. As long as you respect the space and authority of those you’ve hired to perform these jobs, you can still engage in some of this work and maybe find reasons to check back into your business.

In part II of this series, we’ll look at additional causes of checking out and remedies for avoiding them.