I bet we could all come up with several reasons as to why we haven’t ticked certain things off our ‘to do’ lists yet, and they’re probably perfectly valid. Over time, I have tried to take note of which items never seem to make it to the top of the list, and invariably they fall into one of two camps:
Administrative tasks that must be done but is simply dull, and
Work that I think I should be doing to grow my business because it has worked for others, rather than work that is right for me and my business.
Both of these things can make it difficult to maintain momentum and motivation when growing a business, and part of becoming self-aware as a business owner is learning to identify these ‘blocks’ and understand how to negotiate them. I do believe that it is possible to learn how to distinguish between the two camps, enabling you to stay focused on the work you want to do and the people you hope to serve.
When faced with those periods or tasks that damage your enthusiasm and energy, it’s important to:
be honest with yourself
be clear on your values and your mission, and review these regularly
take note of the things you’re enjoying and the things that seem to drag, and reflect on this.
Here are three of the methods I use to keep me moving forward, and that help me to stay in my own lane.
1. No More Excuses
There are always several reasons not to do something, and I have been (and still am!) prone to defaulting to excuses such as:
“Oh well I’ve been away a lot”
“I’m not sleeping so well so I better take it easy”
“I’m sure that task won’t take too long, it can wait until tomorrow”.
To be fair, these have all been valid reasons at times, but six months into building Be Stubborn, I reviewed what I had been doing so far. I noticed that when it came to the work I had not done, I had broadly: over-scheduled myself, and avoided showing up fully because I was afraid.
For me, 2018 was a year to explore: the world, myself, and the kind of work I want to do. I was so lucky to be able to do all of that, but I struggled to find the right balance with the work I wanted to do. I’d set deadlines to write blog posts or create resources, and then not hit them because I was away. And on reflection, I avoided hitting publish sometimes because I was afraid that the business would fail, so while my audience was still small I sometimes buried my head in the sand and figured that no one would really notice.
In time, I felt dissatisfied with the volume of work I was producing, and confronted myself with the words: NO MORE EXCUSES. Hard as building a business can be, we have to show up. If we really want this, and are on the right path, then it is worth pushing through the mistakes and fears. After all, no one will do the work for us.
Growing a business is not a race, and we are allowed to set the pace. But, we need to own that pace and remember that we get out what we put in. Many of us balance building a business with another job, and need to be careful about how we pace ourselves to ensure that we don’t burn out, but also that we don’t over schedule ourselves sand essentially set ourselves up to fail.
If the business is something we are passionate about we will always find the time and energy to spend on it, which brings us to point number two…
2. Reflect & Adjust
Some people start a business feeling very clear about their mission, and how they will serve their customers. Others have a fairly good idea but are also to make a start and see where the path leads, gaining clarity as they proceed. Sometimes you need to do ‘the wrong things’ in order to know what it absolutely right for you. And sometimes you just don’t know which idea is not quite right for you until you try.
When creating Be Stubborn I was a mixture of these things. I was clear that I wanted to help people to pursue the things that mattered most to them through introducing a touch of stubbornness into their lives and work. But upon reviewing my work experiences to date, and after being influenced by what other successful coaches were doing, I thought that I could best achieve my goals by providing lot’s of “How To’s” about business building and marketing.
There is nothing wrong with those things, but they just weren’t for me. And I couldn’t shake the feeling that other people were already doing that work, and doing a brilliant job. Ultimately, it just didn’t light me up, and therefore I wasn’t producing my best work, or wasn’t finishing projects.
As good as an idea is, you’ve got to really want it if you’re going to do it justice. If you’re only doing it because you think you should, or because it has worked for someone else, the likelihood is that:
it won’t be your best work;
and / or you won’t enjoy doing it, but may get trapped in a cycle of doing even more work like that.
So, whether you start your business from a position of great clarity or not, check in with yourself at least every three months. Have a mini-mission statement, a list of your values, a note of what it is you want to achieve, and see if you’re still aligned with that. If you’re not, reflect on whether you’ve grown in a new direction and so need to change those fundamentals, or whether you need to get back on track.
This might mean that a whole host of your ideas will not come to fruition as planned. But if it’s not working for you, then it is unlikely to work for my audience. And you don’t need to totally scrap those ideas, but you might rework them to better suit you, your ethos, and those you wish to reach.
Embrace this process, whether you’re three months into your business or three years. There’s something surprisingly liberating about accepting what doesn’t work and adjusting accordingly to ensure that you grow in a way that is intentional and sustainable.
3. accept the things that must be done
This one speaks for itself really. Especially in the early days of running a business, it’s unlikely that you’ll have the funds to outsource the things you don’t like or really understand. You’ll probably just have to learn, and get the things done.
But this is actually powerful; say you don’t really understand accounting and tax, or income, expenditure and profit. It would be nice to pass all of that over to an accountant, but while you’re in the early stages of your business, it is so useful (arguable critical) to learn about all of these things and fully understand them. This helps you to really know how your business works, enabling you to fully understand challenges and opportunities.
The same goes for crafting social media posts that are fit for purpose, growing a mailing list and an engaged community, even building a simple website if you’re up for that.
Once you acknowledge the benefits of just getting these things done, it gets a bit easier to just do it. And remember, if you put the work in now, one day you’ll be able to outsource whatever you want to!
ONE STEP at a time…
Be kind to yourself as a business owner, but try to find the balance between cutting yourself some slack and cutting through the stories you tell yourself. One of the most underestimated parts of having your own business is the self-development work required / forced upon you. You’ll get to know yourself in a whole new way, which can be scary but is ultimately incredibly useful. Embrace the process.
You may find yourself repeating this cycle of gaining then losing motivation, momentum and even clarity as your business grows. This can feel frustrating, but know that you are not the only one going through this. There’s a whole community of us out there. You can and will find your way again, and it will be worth it.
“Everything had to happen exactly as it did to get you to where you’re going next.”