Let’s get real here: being in business can be hard work. Really hard work. Hopefully you’re doing something you love, something you’re passionate about, but no matter how much you enjoy what you do, you’ll possibly go through times where it feels like you’re running in mud. The relentlessness of business can get even the most enthusiastic businessperson down. If you’re not careful, it can all get on top of you, so let’s talk about what you can do now to help pull yourself out of that hole…
Firstly, burnout is a big issue for many business owners. Ask yourself, am I exhausted? Am I over it? Do I need some time off? Tell me, when was the last time you took a holiday? When was the last time you took a mental health day or afternoon? Salaried employees get 4 weeks off a year but most of the business owners I talk to are lucky to get a few weeks at Christmas, unless they really challenge themselves to take more.
Dion Nash was at our Nurture Change Business Retreat last month and he said it was the first time in 8.5 years of owning a business that he felt like he could get away with not checking his emails for a few days. That’s what I mean about business being hard.
Leaving your business for a few days may seem impossible but you need to do it. Book a long weekend or even an afternoon off. Do something you love in that time – go for a run, go on an adventure with your family, cook a good meal, do something creative. Stepping out of the business to do something you enjoy will actually make you MORE productive on your return.
Ask yourself if you need more help. As a business owner the to-do list is always massive, especially in the early days when funds are tight, but it’s worth looking at where you’re spending your time and asking yourself if there are things you should be outsourcing. Things that aren’t your strength, that don’t make your business money, things you hate doing. If you’re doing to many of these things, and not enough of what you’re good at and love, it will absolutely impact on the passion you have for your business.
Graham Henry was also at our business retreat last month and he talked about having a stop-doing list alongside of your to-do list. What do you need to stop doing so you can stop feeling overwhelmed and unhappy? Will paying someone to take over some of your tasks put you in a better head space?
Most of us have gone into business excited about helping a set of customers or solving a problem. I do what I do (Business Changing and the Nurture retreats) to help our business community with connection and learning, so even when things get crazy busy or stressful, I remind myself of what it’s all for. Figure out your why and remember that. Print it out if you need to. Remind yourself of it on your tough days. If your why isn’t strong enough, you need to work on it.
Sometimes in business you move up the ranks and move away from what excited you about your business to start with: the customers. To get some passion back about what you do, get on the ground floor and talk to your customers to remind yourself of why you do what you do. This is also good to do to hear first-hand the issues they’re grappling with or the problems they need solved, which might end up in another product or revenue stream for your business.
I want to talk about mental health, because it’s a very real issue for business owners. Owning a business can be isolating and lonely. It comes with so many pressures, financial and otherwise. If I can urge you to do one thing this year, it’s to find a supportive network of people who understand what it’s like. Talking to others about your issues makes you feel less alone. Other people can actually help you solve the problems you’re facing because they’ve possibly faced the same issue before. Find a group of likeminded people – let them help you, challenge you and inspire you. It’s why we set up the Nurture business retreats – to help business owners and senior leaders connect with others like them, to make this journey a far less lonely and isolated one. A problem shared is a problem halved – and talking to others can actually make you feel enthusiastic and excited about what you do again.
And remember: celebrate your successes, however small. Too often we keep moving without stopping to see what we’ve achieved. Take time to stop and smell the roses (or daphne, as Rachel Taulelei says) – do the mahi, get the treats.