2011 is still only weeks old. Winter is hanging on… and on (in some parts of the country, at least). Your New Year’s resolutions for your company have either been put into motion or (more likely) forgotten.
When you’re slogging through snow, struggling with a lingering winter cold as you finish an overdue client proposal, feeling like you’ve failed at the goals you so eagerly set only weeks ago, it’s understandable if your enthusiasm for your business is flagging a bit.
Running a small business is hard—and it’s been especially difficult for the past few years. But negativity is contagious. As your business’s leader, you can’t afford to show it when you feel discouraged or even just plain “blah.” If the evidence that the economy is finally sending up some small green shoots isn’t enough to inspire you, how do you recapture your passion for your business? Here are some ideas.
Remember how it all began. Why did you start your business? Maybe you wanted to control your own destiny, have flexible hours, work only on what inspires you, or get rich. As your business grows, it’s all too easy to lose touch with those initial goals. Revisit your reasons for becoming your own boss, and figure out how to get closer to them again. If you’re working on projects you don’t enjoy, what can you change? If you’re spending every minute at the office, how can you build in more free time? Remember, you’re the boss—there are ways to make everything work.
Appreciate what you’ve got. The old saying is true—the grass always seems greener on the other side. If you find yourself wishing you were an employee again, do a reality check, and focus on what you appreciate about owning your own business. Maybe it’s not having to go to endless (and pointless) meetings. Maybe it’s having the freedom to work from your home office with a cat on your lap. Maybe it’s having the final say in who you hire. Or maybe it’s not working your butt off to put money in someone else’s pocket. Whatever your motivation, make a list of all the things you’re grateful for, and refer to it often.
Shake it up. It’s easy to feel uninspired when you’re in a business rut. Shake things up by learning new skills, pushing your business into a new area or challenging yourself to try something that scares you: public speaking, going on sales calls, blogging, whatever it is. You might try selling online, or overseas. (Put some thought into your choices, of course, and make sure there’s a good reason you chose it.) Whether you love it or hate it, whether the move works out or doesn’t, you’ll learn something of value.
Get moral support. I never fail to feel revitalized when I talk to other small-business owners. Whether it’s a networking event, working with college students considering entrepreneurship, or just having coffee or lunch with friends who own businesses too, being around others with a similar mindset pumps me up.
We entrepreneurs are optimistic and action-oriented by nature, so if you’re feeling down, grab some fellow business owners for a quick pep talk. You’ll leave feeling encouraged and inspired. (If it’s 3 a.m., tap your social network to get encouragement online. But remember, the Internet isn’t a long-term substitute for meeting face-to-face. Build in time for moral support in person.)
Of course, if you’re getting support, it’s equally important to give support as well. Make time to listen to the friends and colleagues who ask you for advice, or just a shoulder to lean on. By helping others, you’ll help yourself be a better boss, a better leader, and a better business owner.
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