I'm the editor of entrepreneur-ette magazine... and founder of the entrepreneur-ette community. Like lots of other women in business, I started my business with a dream (mine was to start a magazine for women in business) and along the way I've met lots of inspirational women and learnt lots too... I'm looking forward to sharing my knowledge and stories from other women in business here.View all articles by Fiona Powell
What keeps you going when you’ve worked until two in the morning to finish a proposal, when you pay your staff but can’t afford to pay yourself, when your new brochure is printed back to front and when you’re juggling eating your dinner, talking on the phone, writing in your diary and hugging the dog/child/spouse?
When money is tight, when you’re tired and feeling overwhelmed and when things just don’t go to plan…. it’s enough to make you think ‘why am I doing this?’
Here are some strategies to help get you through those days:
Think of the big picture
Grab a piece of paper and go somewhere quiet. Even if that place is the bathroom. A café with a reviving cup of coffee is even better. Ask yourself why am I doing this? Ask yourself why am I working all these crazy hours, having no money, being stressed out and feeling overwhelmed? Try and remember why you started your business in the first place – was it to fulfil a dream, to spend more time with the kids (or the dog), to make a difference to other people’s lives, to become financially secure, or to just give it a go…. Whatever your reason, write it down, remember it, and take deep breaths.
Delegate, prioritise, work smarter
If you are feeling overwhelmed while the person you employed to help you out is texting her boyfriend, then you aren’t delegating. There are some good books and articles around on the internet about delegating. Basically the idea is to let go of some of your work… and trust others. Let them have some responsibility so they can be a real part of your business. Coach them and support them… but let go. Sure, they may not colour code the incoming mail like you did, but they could do the job differently and sometimes even better – while you concentrate on the important stuff.
At the beginning of each week, and of each day, write in your diary your ‘important outcomes’ for that week or day. Then you won’t beat yourself up if you didn’t ‘vacuum the office’ but you did finish your GST return.
Your goal is to spend every day doing things you love to do, that bring you closer to your goals and that are profitable.
If you’re dreaming about reacquainting yourself with your pillow, or people are avoiding you and your snappish one word replies, or your creativity has ground to a halt, then you probably need a break to re-fuel.
Take a break, even if it’s a walk around the block. A change of scenery does wonders for your mind. Weekends off are even better.
You may not feel like you have the time, but time out will pay dividends three fold.
Asking for help is okay. Ask friends to babysit, ask clients to pay their over due invoices, ask the bank for an over draft, ask a printer to explain what CMYK means. Most people are only too happy to help you out – they want to be part of your success too.
Join a local business network and soak up the encouragement from like-minded people.
On a tough day open your success journal – you know, the journal or diary with the scribbled happy faces recording all your ‘wins’. If you don’t have some way of recording your successes, start now! Nothing beats being reminded of the time you got that phone call asking for your first big order.
Keep a scrap book of inspirational quotes, read biographies, attend events with inspirational speakers… whatever it takes, sometimes we need an injection of motivation to get us over a hump.
Sometimes you just have to accept that this is not the right path toward your dream. Maybe you’re before your time, maybe there could be another way.
If, with your hand on your heart, you can say to yourself, ‘I gave this my best shot, I will not, in hindsight, regret walking away’… then it’s okay to say, okay this didn’t work, I’m ready for my next adventure. Then it’s okay to walk away.
There will be (lots of) days when you feel like throwing your computer out of a tall building and yelling ‘I quit’ but…. when you’re the boss you sometimes have to take a deep breath and remember why you started your business in the first place. And not give up.
Fiona Powell is the founder of entrepreneur-ette