I was once considering selling my Clubsport R8. It was still running beautifully, but it just wasn’t exciting me anymore. I am a “car guy”, so if my pride and joy isn’t making my heart beat a little faster when I open my garage door every morning, then it’s probably time to move it on.
To prepare for the sale I booked a professional detailing. They did a great job; buffing and polishing until she looked like new. As she rolled out of the shop, I realised I wouldn’t part with her – I was in love all over again.
It can be the same with your small business. It’s running well, you’ve assembled a dream team, you’re meeting your goals and there’s nothing “wrong” exactly… the shine has just worn off a little.
When my small business coaching clients have come to me feeling like this, I mentor them to give their business a detail. Here are five philosophies to guide you through that process:
Sleep on it
“This, too, shall pass” – ancient proverb
As with any long-term relationship, it is completely normal to have times when you think, “is this the one for me?”. More often than not, these feelings are just a phase and you may just need to ride it out.
If you’ve been stressed lately, it might be that you’re looking at your business through mud-coloured glasses. Acknowledge that being “the boss” can be tough sometimes. Ask yourself what else might be going on in your life; are you run-down, need a holiday, need to get more exercise or just need a good laugh more often?
Give yourself a timeframe to make some positive changes; stick with it for, say, six more months and revisit the idea down the track. In the meantime…
Re-connect with your “Why”
“He who has a why can endure any how.” – Frederick Nietzsche
The great Simon Sinek reminds us in his TED Talk, How great leaders inspire action, to place your “Why” at the centre. I mentor my Tenfold clients to remind themselves why they do what they do.
- What is it that gets you out the door in the morning?
- What drove you to start your business?
- Is that still what keeps you working at your business?
If you feel like your business purpose has changed, maybe you even need to discover a new “Why”? That’s a great insight to have! Fresh motivation and inspiration could be the key to unlocking that door and taking your business to the next level.
Set some new (SMART) goals
“Are you green and growing or ripe and rotting” – Ray Kroc (MacDonald’s founder)
If you’re feeling a little more on the “ripe” side, you could just be feeling a bit too ‘comfortable’ in your small business. I mentor my business coaching clients to keep themselves motivated by always having a clear goal that they are actively working towards.
This is a quick 4-step guide to setting goals in your small business:
Spend some quiet time meditating on your business; where you’ve come from, what you have achieved and where you are headed.
- Pick a destination
based on your thoughts above, write down the things that keep occurring to you; perhaps you want to improve your time efficiency, responsiveness to clients or improve communication in your business. Try to pick just one to tackle at a time!
- Build a roadmap
Look at your business right now, face in the direction that you want to take it and break down all the steps it takes to get there. This way you don’t get overwhelmed at the changes ahead. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!Be sure to turn each step into an action. If your goal is to improve your communication in your business, for example, brainstorm ideas about how to do this (skype, phone apps, more meetings etc). Make sure that you turn each of these ideas into an action eg send out e-invite to weekly meeting etc.
- Make a commitment
Often the act of writing goals down helps them feel more “official”; draw up that roadmap, print it off and stick it to the wall where you can see it. Give yourself timeframes for achieving each step and throw yourself a welcome party when you arrive at your destination!
A note on SMART goals:
You may have come across the idea of SMART goals before, but it is worth a reminder. All goals that you set in your small business should be:
- S – specific; eg “I want to increase time efficiency in my business”
- M – measurable; eg “I want to get 20% more done in a day”
- A – attainable; if it can’t truly be done it will de-motivate you, so be realistic!
- R – relevant; make sure your goal fits with your business model
- T – time-based; have a timeframe in which you intend to achieve your goal
eg “I will be 20% more efficient within 6 months”
Adopt an attitude of gratitude
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein
The simple act of practicing gratitude can have a real and measurable effect on your business and get that fire back in your belly!
In his TED talk, The happy secret to better work, Shawn Achor explains how we can use a simple exercise to rewire our brain to see the positive first.
He implores us to reverse the traditional model of “work harder = more success = happiness”. By bringing our happiness ‘into the now’, we can make our brains 31% more productive. You can impact your business outcomes simply by changing the lens through which you view your reality.
It’s worth the 12-minute investment to watch Achor’s presentation, but here’s a rundown of his research as it relates to your business:
- 90% of long-term happiness is determined not by your external world, but by how you see it
- 75% of our success comes from being optimistic, having a sense of social support and viewing stressful situations as a challenge not a threat
- your positive brain is 37% better at sales than a brain that is in a negative, neutral or stressed state
How can you change your brain to see the positive first? It really couldn’t be simpler; you practice gratitude. Have yourself and your team members write down three (new) things you are grateful for every day. Repeat the exercise for 21 days and by the end you will have a shiny new positive perspective on life that will help you to work harder, smarter, faster.
Check your boundaries
“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say ‘No’ to almost everything” – Warren Buffett
Are you waking in the middle of the night with the cold sweats or sitting at your kid’s birthday party worrying about that job that starts on Monday? If so, it might be time to check your work/life balance.
True balance is hard to achieve but making time for yourself, friends and family is crucial to success in your business. If you or your loved ones start feeling resentful of the time it takes up in your life, your relationship with your business will suffer.
Set (flexible) boundaries around your time:
Make a realistic time that you clock off for the day and stick to it. It can be hard at first but make the effort to leave work “at work” for at least part of your day. For example, share at least one meal a day with your family. During that time switch off your phone and shut down the laptop. Taking this time away will allow you to refocus and work smarter when you clock back on.
Make some simple rules
Make a list of “I will never” rules that fit with your values. If you don’t wish to give your personal phone number to clients, don’t make any exceptions. If you have decided that you need more sleep, don’t check your phone between 10.00pm and 6.00am (perhaps even turn it off!). It’s a personal choice, but whatever rules you come up with, make sure you look at the list often to check that you aren’t overstepping your own boundaries!
Decide (ahead of time) what an emergency looks like
There will be times where an emergency situation forces you to stay back at work or take that late-night call. To make sure that these stay the exception and don’t become the rule, figure out what exactly qualifies as an emergency. You might ask:
- Is anyone in physical or emotional danger?
- Will I lose significant business if I don’t act immediately?
- What will happen if I put this off until later?
Also have a plan to reinstate boundaries or rules that get broken, to make sure it doesn’t happen in the next non-emergency situation.
So, for our ‘victory lap’…
Hopefully, after this 5-point detail, your business has emerged looking a little shinier and your heart’s beating just a little faster. You can continue to revisit the ideas and exercises above, to prevent any future slumps in passion and excitement. You truly do get out of your business what you put into it. As the Beatles used to say, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make” (I do love a good quote).