It probably happens to more entrepreneurs than you think: One day, you realize you're bored with your own business. You no longer wake up excited to get to work, and you no longer go to bed thinking about how to tweak your logo or draft a new social media plan.
And the question you ask yourself is one that plenty of other business owners have asked themselves at some point: How do I get my mojo back?
There's no one answer that works for everyone, of course. Each entrepreneur's personality and business model is different, so each of you will have your own individual journey from blah to bliss.
But it should help to know that if you're feeling underwhelmed by your own business, you're not alone—others have come before you and learned how to turn things around. Here are six proven ideas for restoring your business mojo:
Throw Yourself Into Marketing
If work has been a little boring lately, maybe you need to challenge yourself to find ways to attract new business. Perhaps because you haven't been trying to bring in new customers, you've just been going through the motions. That's the place Matthew Reischer, CEO of LegalAdvice.com, found himself not long after launching his new business.
"As a business owner, I've definitely had the 'blues' several times over the course of trying to gain traction with my startup venture," Reischer says, who officially started his company in 2012 after spending 18 months getting the rights to use his domain name. "When you hit a wall that you don't know how to go around but you're still going through the motions of working with the resources you have, it can be very depressing."
Reischer says he spent about a full year feeling blue about his business and kind of going nowhere. Running out of cash didn't help either. But once he started employing "pure guerrilla marketing" by approaching journalists and convincing them to write about his business to get the word out about his company, new clients and more sales started lifting him out of his malaise.
Develop New Ideas for Your Business
Sometimes, it's doing the same thing day in and day out that makes what you used to love feel like a daily grind. "I've owned my own manufacturing company for 27 years now," says Allan Gourlie, whose business makes a brand of cleaning products called Quick n Brite. "We had our great times early on, then slowed a bunch, then it got a little monotonous. For the past few years, it's been mostly about going to trade shows and trying to hire new salespeople and train them for the shows. If you've ever worked a lot of trade shows, you know how hard it is to keep working them over and over.
"I got out of my funk by creating a new concept for selling our products and by creating a few new lines of cleaners for specific [customers]," Gourlie adds. "New ideas and formats can really energize you."
Find a Mentor
"I think every business owner [has] moments when they lose their joy for their business. Six years ago, I found myself on the brink of calling it quits and finding something else to do, or even going back to a regular job. I was stuck in a cycle of feeling unfulfilled by attracting clients who weren't willing to do the work and not ready for what I had to offer as a business consultant," says Carol Sankar, an entrepreneurship coach.
But instead of shutting down her business, Sankar found someone who could help her reignite her love for her business. After she found a mentor, Sankar says, "I found my joy again. I found the spark I used to have when I initially started."
Stop Doing the Parts of Your Job You Hate
Maybe you love interacting with customers but hate the number-crunching that comes with running a business. Or perhaps you need to unload some of the grunt work you've taken on so you can work on more of the big-picture tasks that will help your business grow. No matter what activities your business requires, you can always find a way to do more of the things you love.
Gina Storr, a social media and online business consultant, admits she once felt joyless and lackluster about her own business. Although she loved social media, Storr explains, "I hated creating content using HTML."
She did, however, love WordPress. "So I spent every waking hour learning how to use it," Storr says. "Once I was confident in my newly acquired skill, I started only creating WordPress sites and no longer worked with clients who rejected that platform."
And Storr's joy was back. While you may be tempted to tell yourself to suck it up and just do what needs to be done, Storr says that outsourcing those tasks you hate might be absolutely crucial to the survival of your business. As she explains, "Better to do that than to find yourself neglecting it because you hate doing it."
Take up a Hobby
If running your business seems to be a 24/7 venture, maybe you need to carve out more of a life outside your business. Earlier this year, the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology came out with a study of about 350 people with a variety of jobs and hobbies, as well as a second group of 90 U.S. Air Force captains, and found that the more people engaged with a hobby, the more likely they were to be better problem-solvers in their job.
"Listening to music, folk dancing or playing with Legos can be a form of relaxing that can open up the mind," suggests Joseph Sherman, the dean of Israel Business School in Jerusalem. And even if the hobby doesn't improve your problem-solving skills, it gets you away from your desk, which may be what's really bringing you down. "A walk in the park may sound like a cliché," Sheman adds, "but it works."
If you've really lost the spark that inspired you to start your business in the first place, maybe it's time to try something new. Abigail Tiefenthaler runs a consulting company for female entrepreneurs and businesswomen called Sweetspot Strategies Inc. She loves her business.
But she used to run a promotional products company. She didn't love that so much.
About eight years into it, Tiefenthaler says, "I lost interest in my company from a combination of factors." Her husband had returned to school full time, and her daughters' activities were pulling her focus away from the business. But mostly, it was just the business. "I had a steady decline of clients due to an industry consolidation, and it seemed every order had some type of delivery issue," Tiefenthaler says.
Looking back on it now, she realizes, "I was running the business without really focusing on growing the business." And it was a successful business—almost $2 million in revenue just a few years in. But the industry consolidation meant she lost clients, and she didn't try hard enough to replace the clients she lost, Tiefenthaler explains.
Eventually, Tiefenthaler's business slowly started to die—at one point, she owed 26 vendors a collective $56,000 and she started thinking about bankruptcy. Despite it being pretty clear that the business needed to be put out of its misery, she paid off her vendors and kept the company open and running.
"I was afraid of letting go and not having anything to replace it," she says. After much thought, she finally shut it down in 2012, and in 2013, she founded Sweetspot Strategies.
"I'm loving the opportunity to grow something from scratch again," Tiefenthaler says. And unlike her last business, she's growing this one more thoughtfully and deliberately. It helps that she's passionate about what she's doing—she feels as if she's making a difference in people's lives in a way that she wasn't with her other company.
When it comes to keeping the business fires burning, there's a pattern in these strategies and stories: If you want to regain your passion for your company, you have to change something about the way you're running your business or living your life.
If you can learn to do that, you can learn to get your mojo back. And while "mojo" may sound silly, there's nothing silly about losing it. Because losing your love for your business may just result in you losing your business entirely.
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