With the ups and downs of owning a business, there are going to be those times. Days, weeks or even months when you are struggling. When you’ve been working your tail off but can’t see the fruits of your labour. Where are the sales? The referrals? Where’s the respect? Where’s the money?!
You may be asking yourself: Why, exactly, did I think starting my own business would be a good idea?
It’s sort of a running joke with entrepreneurs: ‘If I knew then what I know now, I never would’ve started the business!’ Of course for most of us, that’s not really true. But it’s a phrase that encompasses the sheer volume of sh*t you’ve had to deal with since you began.
You are not alone. I’m sending you deep love and respect. Thousands of entrepreneurs on the same journey are cheering you on at this moment. You’ve chosen a heroic path. Look in the mirror and take pride in that. Hang in there!
If you’re in the trenches right now, here are three strategies to help you turn the boat around:
Prioritize Self-Care. This is no joke. You are the engine of your business. If you’re not functioning well, neither is your business. If you’re currently feeling at the end of your rope, take one healthy, loving action to care for yourself and it will set you in a positive direction.
Some suggestions: Turn off all media, the lights, and any other distractions for ten minutes. Close your eyes and take deep, slow breaths; slowly drink a cool glass of water; walk around the block; go to bed early; do ten minutes of stretching to get your circulation going.
I like to call these little breaks ‘sips of sanity’. They aren’t rocket science, I know. What is radically effective is the leap of faith it takes to implement them when you’re pressured, instead of reaching for unhelpful habits like coffee (my go-to), TV (another go-to) and snacks (Okay, crap. These are three of my go-to’s!). I have begun replacing these old coping habits with the quieter, healthier choices and the difference from using even just one of these each day is remarkable.
Reach out. Running a business can be incredibly isolating. If you don’t have a community of like-minded people to lean on and celebrate with, you will suffer unnecessarily. The benefits I’ve received from my community are immeasurable!
Just some of the advantages: Fast-tracking decisions – being able to leverage the collective experience and wisdom of your community allows you to avoid costly mistakes, find creative solutions and better leverage the opportunities coming up; Emotional support – no one understands the challenges you’re dealing with like other entrepreneurs. They will share their own war stories and help you see the light at the end of the tunnel when you cannot. And of course business opportunities – sharing resources, making referrals, forming joint ventures and many other ways of collaborating are all available when you get to know fellow entrepreneurs more deeply.
Charge up your cash flow. If cash is the issue, make some radical – if temporary – changes. Cut out all non-essential activity. Brainstorm an exhaustive list of ideas to get the money flowing again. Call two or three trusted friends and colleagues who believe in you, and brainstorm again with them.
Here are a few you may not have thought of: Send out a one-time special offer to your list. Call all your previous happy clients with a short-term special ‘thank you’ offer. While you’re on the phone with them, ask them who else they know that is experiencing the challenge that your service fixes, and ask for an email introduction.
Offer friends and relatives to do odd-jobs for quick cash.
Look around your home and office and see what you can sell. Take a picture of each item and get them up on Kijiji or Craigslist. Don’t have time for this? Hire a student and tell them they get half the proceeds from each item sold.
Here’s a creative idea that my coach used when she was in a money crunch early on: drive around and pick up the high-quality cast-offs you find at the curb in wealthier neighbourhoods and sell those online.
You will notice that some of these ideas require a lot of humility. Your ego may scream in resistance. Take a deep breath and keep your eyes on the long game. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and ask for help. When you’re willing to step up and do what it takes, you’ll be amazed at how much support there is for you.
From the trenches…hang in there – you can do it!