Some say it’s “lonely at the top.” Many solopreneurs would probably say, “It’s lonely going it alone.” How do you conjure the energy and motivation to go on when your business is circling the drain? Micro business owners are likely to experience “circling the drain” days on more than one occasion. However, not everyone is able to grab a hold to the rim and stretch his or her way to safety.
No business owner goes into business thinking they will fail. Yet, it is fear of failure that can paralyze them with inaction when things begin to unravel and business doesn’t turn out the way they may have envisioned. No one brags about their business failing. In fact, often times small business owners will put on a front to save face and keep others from knowing their business is failing. The truth is, there is nothing to be ashamed of. Business is just that, business. We’ve all heard it before, “some of the most successful business owners started out as failures.” They key is knowing when to regroup and when to give up and only you have the power to do either. Surviving your darkest hours as a small business owner depends on your capacity to effectively navigate the following:
It’s business, don’t internalize. You are an individual. You are a human being. Your business does not define you. You define your business. You have to be able to separate yourself from your business. Your business is an entity that you manage and control. If it fails, you will survive. It will be tough, but you will.
Know your limits. There is only so much one person can do. Many small business owners make the mistake of trying to do it all themselves, lack a mental outlet and focus on areas that are not in their wheelhouse. In order for any business (and business owner, for that matter) to grow, you have to recognize and acknowledge what your capacity is and be able to seek the appropriate advice, assistance and guidance needed to move in an effective direction.
Make decisions and commitments. When your business is circling the drain, it is time for candid reflection and lucid decisions. You are at the brink of closing up shop or at the cusp turning it all around. Either way, you have to decide “how” you will commit to that choice. If you decide to turn it around, you need to have a clear and realistic plan to move forward and take immediate action. If you decide to close up shop, you have to make preparations and do it properly (i.e. notify clients and vendors, sell off assets, close out accounts, negotiate with collectors, etc.) You can’t just leave your “closed” sign on the door and stop answering the phone.
Do the tasks you enjoy for inspiration and energy. Sometimes when you are at your darkest hour, all you can do is step back and do something that brings you a little bit of joy. Focus on what it was/is that got you excited about your business in the first place. Rekindle your love for your business. What brought you the most joy? Can you recapture it? Despite your frustration, you have to get back to being inspired. Inspiration can come from anywhere. Change your habits, change your routine, and change your environment. A fresh pair of eyes can make a world of difference.
Give yourself a deadline for results. The longer you wait, the worse things will get. Don’t waste time on ineffective tasks and activities. Do the work that creates progress and mark your time. “Things” don’t change on their own. You have to be the catalyst. Be realistic in your expectations for the results of your new action plan. Every day that you work your plan, you are one day closer to achieving what you set out to do.
When you find your business circling the drain, and most of us will at some point, stop for a moment of truth and reflection about your state of affairs, get some sage advice and wisdom from a trusted 3rd party, give yourself a fresh pair of eyes, make a decision and commitment to stop or move forward and work the plan. Sometimes the darkest days bring us the brightest ideas.
A.Michelle Blakeley is the founder of Simplicity Mastered. Blakeley is a Micro Business Therapist professional with extensive experience in business organization and has successfully counseled hundreds of small business owners through the daily challenges of operating a small business.
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