If you’re like some of your colleagues, then you might feel as if the new year has you flying high, enjoying the fruits of your labor from years past.
But, maybe you’re like others who are (secretly, natch) sick and tired of reading those social media posts about a rockin’ new year. Maybe you seethe with annoyance (or jealously, really) when you notice that your colleagues (or, your competition) has ramped up their email marketing into over-drive.
Seriously, does everyone have to remind you (although they really aren’t trying to hurt you) that you still haven’t been able to gain traction in your marketing, find the cream-of-the-crop clients, or get off the revenue-generation hamster wheel from hell?
Are you secretly reading industry articles such as this, wondering to yourself why you thought that it was a good idea to start an agency, or go freelance?
Are you experiencing burn-out, or are you this close to throwing in the towel?
You’re Not Weak Or Weird
First off, if you’re experiencing dark, depressing, unproductive emotions as they pertain to your business, then you should know that you’re not the only person who feels this way.
Seriously, although you might feel as if you’re the only entrepreneur who isn’t getting it, the current population of the world (Over 7 billion as of the publishing of this article) dictates that you can’t be the only entrepreneur who feels this way.
Here’s a classic television commercial quote from the 80s that has stuck with me:
Lead, follow, or get out of the way!
Now, I don’t share this to encourage those of you struggling with feelings of failure to quit! I share this because, in case you didn’t realize this, you, maverick entrepreneur, are a leader!
It takes a special person to believe in themselves enough to thumb up their noses at a corporate job. It takes bravery and moxie to realize that you’ve got what it takes to create work for yourself (instead of begging someone for work).
And, it takes vision to understand that you can produce a marketable product that in some industries qualifies as a utility of business operations.
These are all leadership skills. But, there’s one more leadership skill that you’ll need to tune into, if you’re ready to stop navel gazing, seething in jealousy, or drowning in inadequacy.
Here’s a refresher on what that word means, especially what it means for you:
The ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens
The ability of something to return to its original shape after it has been pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc.
The first definition is obvious. If any aspect of your business is lacking, then it’s necessary for you to develop a mind-set of resilience if you hope to learn from your mistakes, learn what you’ve been lacking, and move forward successfully.
But, the second definition is very interesting. See, after surviving months (or, the previous year) scurrying for revenue, then stating that you’re feeling “stretched” or “pressed” might be an understatement!
And, trying in vain to figure out why your marketing or your proposal tactics aren’t working, along with dealing with blood-curdling clients will certainly leave you feeling pulled in all sorts of directions, and bent out of shape!
But, as an entrepreneur it’s crucial that you develop the ability to bounce back into form (or figure out how to get there in the first place) when you’re feeling like slumping against the figurative wall of failure.
So, how do you go molding yourself and your business into an industry-respected, revenue-busting brand? How do you put resilience into place so that you can begin to perceive your business slumps as what they are…slumps (or bumps) in the road?
Try the following tips, if you’re ready to stop picking lint out of your navel and get back to business:
Own Your Fear Of Failure
We all have witnessed those who seem to thrive when placed in high-pressure situations. It seems that these are the people who use fear as their jet fuel.
But, maybe you’re not one of those people.
Maybe your fears motivate you to ignore your emails, your voice messages, and your social media accounts. Maybe your fears make you curl up into a ball and cry as you ask yourself why you’re bothering to get out of bed in the morning.
Okay, these emotions are fair. But, these aren’t the type of emotions that are going to teach you where you’re going wrong.
These aren’t the type of emotions that are going to help you learn what you don’t know about building and operating your business. And, bottom line, these aren’t the type of emotions that keep the lights on, the bills paid, and food in your belly!
So, while you don’t need to take on a posturing personae, you do need to find some safe middle-ground in your approach.
Why not take an inventory of what’s lacking? Take some time to research your industry. Read pertinent information about entrepreneurship. Read educational, inspiring blog articles such as this one (I couldn’t resist!)
The point is, take ownership for the fact that you’re scared because you fear that you’re not good enough. Then, do what it takes to become good enough. Or, why not become great?
Listen To What The Market Is Telling You
Speaking of reading educational, informative blog posts, it’s easy to become confused regarding whose blog subscriptions to sign up for, and whose voice you should listen to.
There’s so many seemingly-good industry mentors out there, and like many, you probably fear missing out on any nugget of info that will take your business to the next level. But, sometimes mentorship comes from your market.
Take a look at your marketing and operations processes over the last year. Take inventory of what has worked and what hasn’t worked. This will be very easy to determine, because the processes that have worked should be generating you money.
If you’re noticing low social engagement, scant email subscription sign-ups, or if your proposals are being ignored, then your market is telling you that they aren’t feeling your business offerings and processes. Pinpoint the problem areas, and see if this makes a difference.
Remember, no matter how great your idea is, and no matter what utility it serves, it’s all about your clients, not you. No clients, no money, no growth!
Confession Is Good For The Soul
No, I’m not recommending that you place membership at your local place of worship (unless that’s your thing). What I’m recommending is for you to find a trusted tribe of colleagues and confess your inadequacies.
It’s very easy for us creative and techie entrepreneurs to create a bubble around ourselves. We shut out those who couldn’t possibly understand what we do, and we hide from colleagues who are further along in their success than we are.
How are we supposed to get outside input if we’re creating walls to block out any type of input (or thoughts) besides our own?
Sometimes, we need input from those on the outside looking in! We need to know that we experience isn’t “just us”. And, learning that someone we perceived as having their “act together” once faced the same struggles as we’re facing is often like balm to our souls!
These are just a few tips that should help you to get back on track, and hopefully, remain on track. And, when you find yourself off the track towards success again, just repeat the successful initiatives you took in the past, and you’ll be on your way again.
Now, it’s your turn: Are you this close to throwing in the towel on your business? How did you survive those tough, lean times? What advice would you give to the version of yourself that was scared, doubtful, or self-pitying?
Share in the comments below!