In today’s fast-paced world, small business owners are even more hyper-connected and overloaded with information, choices, and distractions. One of the hardest things to determine is whether you’re on the right path or not. Great work requires taking risks. Couch Sessions offers practical information, new perspectives and quick tips to help point you in the right direction.
Are you a struggling, frustrated or just inquisitive small business owner? Got a question you just can’t seem to find the answer for? Please submit your small business questions here. Be sure to bookmark and check this page each week, your question and the reply could appear right here in “Couch Sessions” for entrepreneurs and small business owners. This week on Couch Sessions…
Q: I'm a co-founder of a tech start-up started a few years ago, which is totally un-related to my previous life in the consumer goods sector. For the past few years, I have become more and more myopic in my personal life. I don't see my friends as much, and I don't even talk to them about work when I do - we are constantly in a race against time to keep our runway open while we seek funding and close revenue deals. Frankly, it’s exhausting to repeat the same story over and over again. It's even worse because inevitably someone will say, "why don't you go back to your old job?" It doesn't help that I've been taking no salary; going out is a luxury I cannot afford. Plus, no one understands the work we do because it's in the medical tech sector - totally foreign to people who sell clothes, bedding and air conditioners for a living. So, how do I not isolate myself from my friends? And get them to see things from my perspective? Thanks Ming S. Ming Ooi, www.taptrakmed.com
No man is an island, no matter how independent and strong he is. Human interaction is what gives us all a sense of belonging and community. The amount of stress it sounds like you are under has taken its toll emotionally and if not checked, physically. Not only may going out with friends be a luxury, but bringing work home with you is something that you can no longer afford to do either. You may want to start with an honest conversation with your friends and let them know that you don’t want to talk about work. You would rather hear about what is going on in their personal lives and keep conversations light and fun. Be in the moment and enjoy each other’s company. Work will always be there. It’s work. Get back to sharing and engaging in the things you all enjoy. Instead of going out, why not rotate a potluck at each other’s home? Don’t wait for your health to fail before you take stock of your reality. When work starts to affect your emotional and physical health, it’s time to seriously consider your options and make some changes. I would start with leaving work at work. Occupy your mind and off-time with things that re-energize or relax you and you bring you some level of happiness and enjoyment. Get out and get some fresh air, take a drive, take a walk. If you are still overwhelmed or find yourself in a depressed state, you may want to consider the assistance of a professional via therapy. I wish you the best.
Q: My name is Sévère Erase, I'm own a small handbag company. This is my second chance around. Why do I say second chance? Well, I stopped being productive and disappeared from the handbag world. I relocated, got depressed, lost the drive, lost touch with my followers and was left for dead. I missed out on a licensing deal, on being carried by a NYC high-end boutique on Fifth avenue and on many reorders from other boutiques that I had great relationships with. Looking back at it now, it haunts me in my sleep, I'm frustrated, angry with myself for the damage I have caused to myself and my family. So, this year I'm relaunching in September. I want to know how can I mend the broken relationships and be trusted again by them? Should I reach out to them for my launching? I'm stronger than ever and want to prove it. Desperately, wanting to mend and thrive this time around. Sévère Erase, www.sevybags.com
I believe in second chances, Sévère. Most of us wouldn’t be here without them, myself included. I also believe in the power of forgiveness. Not only from others, but of ourselves. Before you can approach your broken relationships, you must first forgive yourself. You made a mistake. Yes, a big one. But it was a mistake. They happen. Where do you think our wisdom comes from? Experience and errors. Take your new found wisdom and move forward with confidence in knowing that the lesson was learned. As for your broken relationships, I would reach out to each and every one of them individually. Be it by card (handwritten, they go a long way) or phone. Don’t be so hard on yourself, not all of us are strong enough to make the effort. Be humble and mindful of the pain you may have caused and simply ask for forgiveness. Ask for an opportunity to regain their trust in whatever manner they are comfortable with. And then use that opportunity to do just that, regain their trust. Be prepared for some rejection. Not everyone will welcome you with open arms. However, know that you made the effort, accept their decision and sleep well at night. Those lost relationships are par for the course for the previous decisions and choices you made.
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Couch Sessions is a weekly small business advice column designed to answer questions from struggling and/or simply inquisitive entrepreneurs. Micro Business Therapist™, A.Michelle Blakeley, is a small business professional with over two decades of experience in sustainable, holistic and progressive business practices who has successfully guided new and seasoned small business owners through the daily challenges of operating a small business with timely and transformative small business advice. She is featured in Forbes.com and the Financial Post as one of 30 Women Entrepreneurs to Follow on Twitter, contributor for the San Francisco Examiner and Women On Business; curator of the online magazine, Micro Business Therapy™ and was the host of Simple Truths for Women Entrepreneurs on BlogTalkRadio.com.