When you first start out in business it is very exciting. A chance to build the business of your dreams. To help others. To be there for your children. To make some money. To wake up every morning excited to get working. But there comes a point, for so many businesses, when you realise that you don’t love what you have built.
There will always be moments in your business when you have doubts. When things don’t go quite to plan. The dips on the entrepreneur roller coaster. That’s normal and to be expected.
But what about when you find it a grind? Every day (or most days)? When you realise you have built yourself a job (not necessarily a well paid one either)? When your business has become a chore? When you have fallen out of love with it? Maybe you even start to dream of manning the tills in Tesco?
What can you do? Can you fall back in love with your business?
It is definitely worth a try. This is your dream remember!
But you do have to do something. Continuing on with the status quo won’t help. It will just grind you down further. So what can you do?
1. Remember your Why
Why did you set up your business? I don’t mean “to work around my family”, but why do you do what you do? Most people set up businesses because they have a particular skill and want to help others.
I set up Beyond the Kitchen Table because I wanted to help the very small businesses succeed. It’s not easy – the big businesses have the budget and the people to dominate. But small businesses are the backbone of the community. They make our communities better places. And with the right help, I believe they can succeed.
That’s why I run the business I do.
Reconnecting with your why is one of the most powerful things you can do to fall back in love with your business. It gives a core motivation. It reframes it.
And so it is worth spending some time thinking about who you help. What difference does it make to them? And what would they do if you weren’t there?
2. Rethink your Business
Are you helping these people in the best way?
I don’t just mean for them, but for you too?
Do you have the right suite of products or services?
When I first started a business I was helping people making products to sell online via an online marketplace I set up and at fairs. I realised this wasn’t the best way for me to help small businesses. I was helping the right kind of people, but not in the way that worked best for me (or them).
I wasn’t enjoying this kind of work (it had become a “job”) and it wasn’t the best use of my skills. So I had a rethink.
And that is exactly what is needed sometimes. Are you helping the people you want to help in the right way? Or is there an alternative?
It doesn’t have to be a wholescale change. It can be dropping or slightly changing a service that you know is not working for you. It can also be adding a new one that you really want to do. That you know will help. That you’re fired up about.
If dropping a service is too scary, try increasing the price (significantly). That way you might feel better about the service if someone books it!
Remember it is your business. You can choose what you do. There’s no law that says because you are a _ you must offer _
3. Is it the Clients?
All clients are different. Some are a joy to work with. Others might be more challenging. And often it is the challenging ones that make us question our business.
Who are the clients you love working with? What do they have in common? You will probably find similarities between the kind of clients you enjoy working with. Maybe it is a particular issue they all struggle with. Work out what it is. What can you do to attract more of them? Because you can influence these things with your marketing.
The kind of images you use on your website (and in your social media), the testimonials you share and the case studies you use all influence the kind of people who are attracted to working with you.
What is challenging about the ones you don’t enjoy working with? I had a client change their mind about how they wanted their website to look several times, all the way until their website was almost ready. It drove me mad but, being early in my business, I had sold myself on the basis that you don’t pay unless you love your website. I gave the client permission to keep changing their mind. I learnt! I now have a process of signing off on the design earlier. I still allow revisions, but limit them and don’t build out the whole website until the design is agreed.
This wasn’t a problem client. I had made the problem because of how I ran my business. I haven’t had many negative experiences, but when I have, I have learnt from them. You can do the same.
And if a client is not working out for you and causing you to dislike your business? Ditch them. Simple. Life is too short. And you will find it opens the door to new clients and opportunities.
4. Get Rid of the Parts of your Business you don’t love
As a small business owner, you have to wear a lot of hats. There are so many things to do. Some of them you might love, some you’re good at, others you dislike (maybe intensely!)
A really helpful thing to do is to write out everything you have to do for your business. Everything! Then rank them in 3 different ways.
- How much you enjoy or hate doing that job
- How good you are at that job
- The value of that job
Then take a look at the jobs you dislike, the ones you’re not great at and the “low value” jobs (ie the ones that you can pay someone else to do and it doesn’t cost you much per hour). What can you do about each of them?
Do they really need doing? Do they bring value to your business? If not, just don’t do them!
Can you automate them? I have been manually invoicing all my clients for their website maintenance. I’m just in the process of moving them onto a direct debit system. Something I should have done ages ago. Yes, it has taken time to investigate the best way of doing this and to set it up. But it was a job that sucked joy out of me each month (and even more if I then needed to chase unpaid invoices). There are lots of things you can automate in your business (see my blog post 6 ways to automate your business for a better client experience)
Can you delegate or outsource these jobs? This one is harder, I know. You have to find someone you trust to do it as well as you (or better) and you have to pay them. I have failed on this many a time! But it is worth persevering. Because it is worth it! It is the answer to the things you don’t enjoy or aren’t good at (and anything which is low value). It is also the only way you will ever grow your business (but that’s another post!).
When you are able to focus on the parts of the business that you love doing (or which add more value) the joy should come back into your business.
5. Ensure Balance
Running your business is hard. There’s always a lot of things that need doing. That to-do list never seems to get shorter!
But are you taking proper time away from your business? Are you containing your business or is it encroaching on other parts of your life (she says writing this on a Sunday afternoon!). Can you set boundaries?
Having boundaries with clients is important. You do not need to be and cannot be available 24/7. What is urgent for clients is often because they haven’t allowed the time. That is not your responsibility. Of course we want to help them when we can, but you do need to put boundaries in place to protect your own health and business.
Having time away from your business is healthy. You need it to refresh and recharge. Spend time with family and friends from outside work. Spend time outside. Spend time alone just “being”. You’ll probably find you have your best business ideas at that time too. I know I certainly get mine then!
Know when it is time to quit
Sometimes, despite what you do, it is just not working out. What do you do then?
My suggestion is to give it some time. It may be a temporary blip. And if you still feel that way maybe it is time to do something else. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Yes sometimes you do have to know that the business has run it’s course and it is time for you to quit and do something else.
Most entrepreneurs fall in and out of love with their business. It’s normal. It’s the rollercoaster of running a business.
But sometimes it can last longer. And there are things you can do to help get out of that rut.
- Reconnecting with why you do what you do. Who is it you help?
- Rethinking your business. The suite of products/services you offer
- Relook at your clients. Which ones have you enjoyed working with and want to attract more like that? Which ones haven’t worked out and why?
- Get rid of the parts of the business you don’t love. Those jobs you hate doing, aren’t very good at or which can be outsourced cheaply
- Maintain balance by having better boundaries and a healthy life outside work
And if that doesn’t work, give it time. See how you feel. There’s nothing wrong with stopping and doing something else.