In life, we've all been there at one time or another: You get stuck in a rut.
Maybe it's in a personal relationship, the sport you play on weekends or something at work. Regardless, you've probably been doing some things in your life the same way for a long time, and now you're finding it hard to break out into something new.
Similarly, when it comes to owning a small business, getting stuck in a rut can be hard to avoid. Maybe revenue is flat or it's getting harder and harder to motivate employees. It could be a million small things, but they tend to add up. When they do, you're stuck.
So, how can you snap out of it? I have discovered a few tried-and-true ways over the years. The process can sometimes be painful, but it's often worth it in order to move on and grow.
1. Change your surroundings.
You can go in a lot of different directions here (literally), but the key is that change doesn't have to be complicated. It could be as simple as moving your desk or working from a remote location. Or you could relocate your entire office to a more inviting space.
When you think about the daily routines of working life, it's no surprise we get stuck in ruts. The time you wake up, the route you take to work, your favorite parking spot—it all creates a routine. Sometimes that routine is helpful, but it often blocks creativity as well. That's where changing the scenery comes in.
Seeing, smelling and touching new things can do wonders. Start small and encourage your team to do the same. I'm confident that new, creative ideas will start popping up as a result.
2. Talk with a trusted adviser.
Business owners frequently feel as though they are stuck on an island—just them and a pile of problems to keep them company.
But as alone as some entrepreneurs assume they are, there are plenty of people who have walked in their shoes before. That's why finding and developing a strong relationship with a trusted adviser is a great way to break out of a rut.
The key is to find someone—likely in your own industry, but sometimes a different perspective can be equally helpful—who has fought the battles that you face now. You can take comfort in the fact that there are other people in business who understand what you're going through, and who can provide tangible help and strong advice. In addition, they can look at things in different and refreshing ways.
Once you do find one, meet with this adviser often—and you may find yourself less likely to fall into a rut in the first place. And when you inevitably do, like we all do at some point, they can be a lifeline out.
3. Change your mind to change your world.
Most business owners believe that their problems are clear-cut and easy to define. For example, if you're struggling to make payroll, that's obviously a problem.
But I'd suggest that in just about any situation, the “problem" isn't the problem. The problem lies in the way you're thinking about the problem. When people shift their thinking to approach challenges in a different way, looking at root causes rather than symptoms, amazing things can happen.
The key here is to take time aside to think about and examine problems. Real, dedicated, critical thinking is necessary to get to the root of problems and see them in different ways. When you do that, you may find yourself able to shake out of your rut in no time.
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. But, often in business, we get stuck in our ways and have a hard time snapping out of it and moving forward. If you can change your surroundings, lean on a trusted adviser and shift the way you approach problems, you may find yourself spending less time stuck—and instead, more time forging ahead.