I remember when I started my own business. I couldn’t believe the time had finally arrived! Was I scared? Heck yes! But my desire for my own gig was greater than my fear. To be fair, my boss back then gave me the final nudge. He knew it was the right time and told me so. And in that moment, I was on my own.
Deer, meet headlights.
I ventured into the unknown of business ownership armed with just my rolling rack and five garment bags. It was seven months until my first check and two years before I really hit my stride. It was so exciting! I literally ate and breathed my work and loved every minute of it. Even figuring out how to overcome the many obstacles that presented themselves were fun challenges.
That was 20 years ago. There have been many highs, some lows, and life got in the way at times, as it tends to do, but my business is my longest relationship to date! While I love having my own gig, I did have some bouts of boredom and monotony, and the travel that was once exciting, at times became tedious. It’s all normal! What’s also normal is that the crazy pace of self employment is not sustainable forever (as I write this at 9pm in my home office after spending 10 minutes with my partner. Yes, I see the irony).
How do we keep the fire alive in our businesses over the long haul? Hell how about the short haul? Inspiration. A seriously overused word, but oh so appropriate. Here’s how you know you’ve hit it. That moment when you smile to the sky, close your eyes, breathe deep and your heart feels full. Like you can’t believe this moment is yours. Here’s some ways to get back to that feeling.
Take time away. Leave your baby? Yes! This may sound antithetical but stepping away from your business or project will free your mind. It could be as little as 30 minutes of uninterrupted you-time or actually getting on a plane to an exotic getaway. Either way, the time away from your business unhinges your mind from the grind, so to speak, and frees it to receive other things. Things that move and inspire you. Some ideas for quick mental getaways are: Spend time on a hobby you probably haven’t touched since you started your business, start reading that book that’s collecting dust on your nightstand, take the exercise class your friend has been bugging you to try, or book a room for one or two nights close to home but “away.” Then don’t be surprised when, as a result, new ideas and solutions start popping into your head.
Feed your talent. I love this one. No matter where you are in your journey, always continue learning and staying on top of what you’re already good at. In other words, feed your passion with your passion. Participate in webinars, workshops, or online courses regularly. Start a blog or newsletter to share your passion. Talking or writing about your passion is a great way to keep it alive. I recently started a blog (the one you’re reading, actually) to share the stories of my retailers and to offer the bits of wisdom I’ve picked up along the way.
Take a Social break. Social media plays an important role in marketing our businesses, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the black hole of scrolling through feeds and stories where time slides by faster than you realize. Not only can it be a waste of your precious time but also a thief of joy. The comparison game is a passion killer. Do what you have to do for business then get off and take a walk or get on with the important tasks of the day.
Delegate. When you started your business, you likely ran the show yourself and wore a lot of, if not all the, hats. But as you know, when your biz grows, you have to add people so you can fuel the growth. Delegating empowers those that work with you and makes them feel important. They feel like a part of the business’s success and are motivated to solve its problems. As you determine which parts of the job to delegate, remember to keep tasks for yourself that fuel YOU. They’re probably the reason you started this biz in the first place.
Regularly brainstorm with your staff about new products or services you could offer or revamp your current offering. Sometimes we hang on to products or services that no longer serve our business or customer. Your staff is on the front lines with you dealing directly with customers on a regular basis. They are a treasure trove of valuable information. While you’re at it, make the brainstorming sessions “no judgement” zones and record all ideas. You never know when an idea that initially seemed crazy might turn into an idea that saves the day. It’s also nice to save big ideas as goals for the future. Maybe you aren’t capable of activating some of them, but after some time, you may be able to. In which case, it’s nice to use an idea as a goal.
Read. Books, online articles, follow people you admire. Success is built on failure…many failures. I don’t know who said that, but boy is it true. Find people who are successful that have encountered some of the challenges you have and learn what they did to overcome them. Keep in mind that you can learn from businesses that lie outside your industry. You’ll find their stories motivating and inspiring. In addition, reading – even if it has nothing to do with business – can fuel creativity and build mental agility.
Join (or start) a professional networking group with other business owners and professionals – surrounding yourself with other business owners can be very positive and empowering. Hearing new stories and perspectives can also be energizing. It might help you solve a problem or it could give you the resolve that your idea is the right one. The possibilities are as numerous as the people you meet!
Is there something you do stay motivated and inspired that I didn’t mention? Please share it with us. I promise – this is a no-judgement brainstorming zone!