Entrepreneurship and small-business ownership is glamorous, right? Well…..sure….ummmm……..more often than not. OK, let’s just say it and get it out in the open. Sometimes running your small business can be a real challenge. The glamor of day-to-day business – selling, churning out products, making deliveries, and (maybe our fave!) doing the accounting – is not lost on you! So, who can blame us if every once in a while we need a little jumpstart? More than your daily venti latte can deliver. We need excitement. Something to be enthusiastic about. We need something to get our (business) motors running again.
Over the years I’ve seen that look in a lot of my clients’ faces. And, yes, I’ve seen it in the mirror too. I learned that there Let’s see if we can make it just a little bit easier. Here are some ways for you to regain that enthusiasm for your business.
1. Mission reconnect
Usually we start a business because we are passionate about something. Whether it’s world-changing like bringing healthy water to arid, impoverished regions or simply a better way to wash cars….there’s a reason we started out. When was the last time you thought about what yours was? Do you even remember? Working with my clients over the years I have found that revisiting their mission has been a great place to start.
Take some time to reconsider your mission. Go back and look at your business’s mission statement. It might be (should be) in there. Why did you go into this business in the first place? Is it still true? Do you still feel the same way? Not only will you reconnect with your initial mission, but you will also see if and when and where you may have veered away from that. That might be the source of your loss of enthusiasm – over time you shifted to solve something besides what you set out to do. Hey, it happens.
Once you’ve spent a little time thinking about that alone, do it again with your team. Openly share your thoughts and your vision. It will be good for you and for them.
2. Forests and trees
In the day-to-day running of your business, it’s so easy to get disconnected with the “big” picture. It’s hard to see the forest for…..well, you know. We DO often forget that we have accomplished a lot. Sometimes one of the best steps you can take is to take a look back at where you started. Where does your business stand compared to where it was when you started? What successes have you had in the last year or two?
One thing this exercise often does is to bring up stories. You know, those war stories about what it was like when you started out. The good, the bad, and the just downright hilarious and outrageous. It’s good to revisit these successes and these stories. Bring your team into it. Not only will they have a good laugh about how you used to run things by the seat of your pants, but they will also understand where this business came from – and really what it’s all about.
3. Listen Up
It can be very helpful to have someone from outside your organization give you input. It can be more formal (like a focus group or a survey) or less formal (like a chat with customers and/or trusted colleagues, friends, advisors, or mentors). I talk a little more about this in item #5 below.
In general, you are looking for what your business and your brand means to them – and trying to keep an eye open for new ideas. Does your brand have positive meaning? Have you made the impact you wanted to make? (Again, that mission thing.)
When talking to customers consider meeting face-to-face with some of your longest, most-trusted customers and contacts – with nothing on the agenda except talking about their businesses. See what challenges they are facing. See what new ideas or new opportunities crop up. I can honestly say that these meetings are well worth the time and effort. They can be informal.
A number of years ago I was working with a few business partners. One of the markets we served was university alumni associations. At one point I decided to put together a trip to the Midwest and visit several schools. I met with alumni directors at 4-6 universities. Some were clients. Some weren’t. All were people I knew and was relatively comfortable talking with. They were NOT sales calls. They were just informal chats. I can honestly say in these face-to-face meetings I learned a ton about them and their organizations. It deepened our relationships. Ideas popped up for things we could do to better help them. Introductions were made at their colleges and at other schools. I honestly think there’s no way I would have learned what I learned if I hadn’t been with these people face-to-face. It gave me some great new ideas to come back and get to work on – and I think even 1-2 project opportunities.
Doing all or some of these feedback activities can really give you insights about where your business is currently and new, innovative ways to go forward. And it can reconnect you with your customers. Very, very useful!
4. Set Out on a New Adventure
Most of us small-business types love and need a challenge, don’t we? Kind of building on that last point, perhaps what you need is a new goal, a new adventure. Is it time to expand your business?
What new goals do you have? What new ideas do you have that you want to explore?
As they would say on Love Boat, “Set a course for adventure, your mind on a new romance…” (Admit it, you know you were humming along…at least if you are close to my age.)
5. Don’t be scared of outsiders
OK, this point is somewhat related to item 3 above. One of my favorite parts of being a business advisor and coach is being a sounding board for people I know – clients and friends. There’s nothing I love more than sitting down over a cup of coffee and talking about people’s businesses with them. We talk of the big picture. We talk of goals. We talk about ideas they may have for the future. We talk about how they got to this point – and where to go from here. I really think it helps them get excited about their business again.
So my advice to you is to get out there. Talk with someone you trust from outside your business. It might give you some perspective and enthusiasm again. I know the conversations I have had have been truly valuable to me as a business owner – and to my clients.
6. Can you spell “sabbatical”?
OK, it doesn’t have to be as drastic as taking months off. But when was the last time you took some time away from your business? Even a few days. Be honest with yourself. And we entrepreneurs are great at letting our business seep into our lives pretty much 24/7.
Man, I remember when I worked for a big company. And most days I just left at the end of the day and didn’t give it another thought. Now, so much of who I am feels tied up in this business. It’s easy to think about it every waking (and sometimes sleeping) minute, isn’t it?
Plan some time away. Put someone you trust in charge. And DO NOT check in. Allow them to contact you ONLY in an emergency.
A great one (if your funds permit) is a cruise. (And, yes, turn down that wi-fi offer!) It will REQUIRE you to be away. Some quiet time. Some eating and drinking time. Some beach and pool time. Some reading time. No deadlines. And you get to sleep past 6am.
Heck, even if you are only staying home and reading a book (or catching up on NCIS) you need that time away. It will give you some distance and some perspective.
This is all about changing your routine. Give yourself that jolt that you need. Get the adrenaline flowing again. It happens to all of us at some point or another.
Your mission now is to adopt one or more of these ideas over the next 2 weeks. And I’d LOVE it if you’d report back and tell me/us what you learned.
Please feel free to reach out and get in touch and let's explore how I can help you and your business succeed. No pressure. Just an informal discussion to explore some ideas. You can reach me at (713) 907-8429 or BCohen@IDiscoverConsulting.com I hope you are enjoying these blog posts If so, please help spread the word. Tell others about IDiscover Consulting Group and my blog. Share these posts. Comment on them. I’d really love to hear your ideas!