Successful entrepreneurs know it takes hard work to start and maintain a business. The challenges that come with striking out on your own are uniquely different from those faced by an employee in a nine-to-five job. Key among them is sustaining your initial enthusiasm and the motivation to keep going when times get tough. It’s all too easy to get dragged down by the weight of the workload or stuck in the rut of doing things the same way day after day.
Today is National Taffy Day, and we think it’s the perfect opportunity to consider some of the common traps small business owners fall into – and share some of our favorite suggestions for getting unstuck.
Maximize your mornings.
Spend time each morning getting centered and focused on the day ahead. Even allocating just 10 minutes of quiet time to clear your mind or collect your thoughts will help you feel better prepared to head into the day. Make a commitment to avoid negative thinking and, instead, consider the positive aspects of running your own business. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude may be all it takes to lift your spirits, boost your energy, and jump-start your productivity.
Look at the big picture.
Are you mired in the minutia of day-to-day tasks? If so, then chances are you are not investing enough time in thinking strategically about how to better manage your business. Make time to consider what’s working and what needs changing. Pause and take stock of where you and your company are today versus when you made your first sale. Set aside some time each week where you do nothing but analyze and plan for the future. Sometimes taking a step back can help you move forward.
Stop doing everything yourself.
Small business owners are notorious for wearing too many hats. While at first this may seem like a successful and money-saving strategy, it can take its toll as the workload gradually increases. Enlist colleagues or service providers who can quickly take care of problems that may take you days to resolve on your own. Consider hiring professional consultants to whom you can hand off complex, time-consuming responsibilities.
Are there are tasks that no longer need your personal attention or expertise? Delegate them. For instance, if you find entering expenses in your accounting software or proofreading proposals to be monotonous, lighten up by giving the responsibility to a capable employee or virtual assistant. Breaking free from the mentality that you have to do it all yourself is a struggle for small business owners, but keep in mind that asking for help is not a sign of weakness.
Reconnect with your “why”.
If you are like most small business owners, you did not start your business simply to make money. Entrepreneurs are typically driven by a passion for helping others, solving common problems, or making the world a better place. Reconnecting with your purpose – or the “why” that determines your business goals and objectives – can help provide much-needed motivation when your enthusiasm wears thin. Consider writing down your “why” and keeping it posted in a prominent place where you will be reminded constantly of the reasons you launched your business in the first place.
Take on a new challenge.
Tackling a project that is inspiring and rewarding or exploring new opportunities may be exactly what you need to pull yourself out of a professional rut. Is there an initiative you would like to take on that falls outside the scope of your everyday responsibilities? If you have always wanted to start a mentorship program or introduce a company-wide recycling program, embrace the challenge and commit to taking steps to move the project forward. Looking for ways to expand your business offerings or enter new markets may also reignite your creative spark.
Break out of your routine.
Doing things the same way over and over again can lead to boredom and stagnation. Break out of your routine by making changes to the way you approach your day. Work outside your office. Go to a networking event geared toward a different sector of the market. If you rarely leave your desk, take yourself to lunch or head outdoors for a 15-minute walk. If you always tackle daily tasks in a certain order, try to mix things up. You may find that a little variety will shift your perspective and breathe new life into your workday.
Find a mentor.
Many small business owners come to realize they don’t have all of the answers. Seeking support from mentors or other business owners can be extremely helpful during tough times. A mentor can provide the honest feedback and guidance you need to get back on track when you are struggling or strike out in a new direction. Reach out to someone in your industry or professional network who you admire and respect. Discuss their willingness to brainstorm, serve as a sounding board, or provide help and motivation as needed. Knowing you have someone in your corner can help shift your mindset about your business and revive your determination to succeed.
Running a business is no easy task. There will always be responsibilities you find difficult or boring, but the rewards of entrepreneurship can be well worth the struggles. Reconnecting with why you started your business and making small, but impactful changes in how you work and think can help you break out of your rut – and inspire you to take your business to new heights.
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