Our panel of experts provides tips on what to do when business isn't so great.
It’s great to be your own boss when everything is going well. On bad days? Not so much.
Gail Goodman, owner of PhoneTeacher.com, told us via our 1,000 Stories project that her biggest challenge is continuing to go forward when she’s in a slump. “Yes, all businesses have ups and downs, but as a sole owner of my business, I have to find ways to be creative, motivated and energized by myself,” she says. “Though I like working alone, the down side is a pretty strong down side.”
How do you power through a slump, especially when you’re a solo entrepreneur?
A slump is just a negative state of mind. Remember: You get what you focus on. So in these moments, you just need to shift what your mind is telling you.
Put your Pandora/Spotify on “chill/yoga music.” Get into a seated/cross legged pose on the floor. Sit on a pillow so you’re slightly elevated. Light a candle and place it centered in front of you. Close your eyes and put palms on knees. Meditate on this: “Everything is happening FOR me, not to me…including this slump. I am positive thoughts. I am positive energy. This slump is happening to make me better and more resilient. To show me something I may not understand now. I am success. I am extraordinary. I am fearless. I am positive thoughts. I am positive energy…”
Inhale the good. Exhale the negative. Keep going until you start feeling cleansed of negative thoughts. For me it’s at least 5-10 minutes. You should feel a shift into positive energy. Then open your eyes and go be the greatness you already are!
If you’re in a slump as a solo entrepreneur, get out of your office ASAP and sit down with mentors, advisors, or friends who can help you find perspective. Talking through — or even just writing down — what’s specifically getting you down is a useful way to identify real problems worth addressing versus minor but annoying issues that can suck the energy out of us if we let them. Finally, remind yourself why you chose to start your venture in the first place, and take some time to rediscover that passion. Deep breaths and plenty of sleep help a lot too.
Three words: Never Worry Alone. Ninety percent of all our fears are born of loneliness and fatigue. There’s a remedy for that. Get some proper rest and reach out to someone — a coach, mentor, support group — anyone who will listen without judgment about what you are currently experiencing. Resist the temptation to push people away while you “get your head together.” You will lose perspective, get depressed or make bad decisions. If you’re sharing with friends, just make sure it’s an even exchange. Nobody wants to be dumped on all the time, but a good peer is the one who lets you be yourself, in whatever mood you come. We may not always be able to change a particular circumstance, but with the perspective of another trusted person, you may choose a different interpretation.
My Buddhist practice of chanting/meditating twice a day is what has helps me gain the wisdom, energy and patience to get me through my business slumps. And to get my creative juices flowing so that I can find new ways to solve any business problem, I take a weekly salsa dance class.
First, keeping your big picture goals close-by. This gives you an opportunity to step back and look at the situation with a better perspective. Second, surround yourself with like-minded people… this is where finding a local co-working space can be helpful. At Hera Hub, we have multiple forums and platforms where members can seek support and find mentoring from other female solo-preneurs who have walked their path. f you can’t find a co-working space, then make sure you have a “business buddy,” someone who is in a similar situation, where you can pick up the phone and just say… “I’m having a rough day.” Often times this person can be found through a local industry organization or an entrepreneurial networking group. If you can’t find such a person, then work with a business coach.
Surround yourself with inspiring people. Many entrepreneurs get into “isolation” mode while they are trying to “do everything.” That’s the fastest way to get stuck. Get out-and-about daily. Creativity comes more rapidly from talking with other people and gaining insight and inspiration from others experiences. This is why so many entrepreneurs choose to work in co-working spaces, to feed off of other people’s energy. Also, try stepping out of your comfort zone…that can allow you to quickly become reenergized. Lastly, don’t forget to exercise. Raising your endorphins can surely give anyone a rejuvenated sense of mental clarity and motivation.
Business owners, even those who don’t work solo, can feel isolated. That’s why it’s important, especially when you’re in a slump, to stay connected with other entrepreneurs. Whether you meet with them through a formal networking group or more casually, they can help you stay motivated and keep things in perspective.
The best solution to counter a slump is to help someone else. I have a philosophy called, “Give, Give, Get.” The more you give, the more you get. Why? Because when you solve someone else’s problems, you are actually increasing your endorphin and creativity levels. The most amazing breakthroughs come from increased creativity, which get you to think outside of the box.
Whenever I feel stuck, I pick up the phone and call a friend or colleague and offer a “Give, Give, Get” session. We help each other to power through a challenge. I always feeling AMAZING after because not only did I get some viable and workable solutions to explore, I gave my own creative thoughts, which gives me the rush needed to get me through a momentary slump.
I always rely on fellow entrepreneurs to just talk it out. Having a person or group of fellow entrepreneurs to just be able to talk about issues or concerns that are happening, allows you to breathe a bit. It’s also a great time to be able to not only open up to one another but to support each other. It can be your support system. I also always suggest finding time to do something besides work that you love. We know that you love what you do, but you need to find something else that you are passionate about that also fills your life with joy. For me it is going for a run or a bike ride. I call this time my “Jen Zen Zone” and it helps me clear my head and enjoy the outdoors.
You may be running a company by yourself, but in my opinion, there’s no such thing as a “solo entrepreneur.” The United States is home to nearly 30 million small businesses, which means you’re never really alone. I assure you, every challenge you’re facing, every frustration you’re feeling — someone has been there before.
I’ve found that entrepreneurship is almost its own religion. Entrepreneurs are incredibly welcoming and generous with their time. It’s a community that loves to give back. All you have to do is ask.
Sure, you could seek out peers in your industry, or take advantage of any number of the entrepreneurship networking groups that have proliferated in recent years. Or maybe it’s finding a shared workspace, so you’re not alone day-to-day. But often, the most helpful thing is simply having a few entrepreneur friends on speed dial who you can meet for a cup of coffee and vent with. There’s plenty of time to discuss marketing strategies and hiring tactics and the nitty-gritty of running a business, but being able to commiserate on a human level is what will really get you through the tough times.
Rod Kurtz, @rodkurtz
Posted: September 2, 2014