Passion, ambition, energy, and confidence… a few common traits of a successful entrepreneur. But let’s not forget – we’re all human, and running a business is more of a marathon than a sprint. No one can keep their foot on the gas day in, day out – there will likely be energy lulls and setbacks that naturally come with the territory. Some projects might not work out as planned, unforeseen costs might crop up – a pandemic might hit-! – all challenges that can chip away at your entrepreneurial spirit.
Losing your spark will not only slow you down, but could have lasting consequences for your business. Luckily, there’s a number of proactive steps you can take to reclaim the ambition and drive that compelled you to launch your business in the first place.
1. Retreat, reflect, regroup
A pretty obvious one, but essential nonetheless! It’s time to take a break. Step away from your inbox and WhatsApp messages, set your out of office and (quite literally) switch off. Your body and mind need time to fully rest and rejuvenate. If you don’t look after yourself, you’re not going to be able to look after your business.
Once you’ve rested, enjoy reflecting on all that you’ve achieved so far, and what you think might need to change in order for growth. Make sure to put self care on your to-do list – whether it’s going for a walk or taking a full lunch break away from your desk/workplace. Schedule future holidays and personal time off into your calendar, you’ll feel much better handling stressful work scenarios when you know you have some TLC on the horizon.
2. Improve your work environment
While retreating and focusing on your wellbeing can provide the important break you need, returning to an unchanged work environment is only going to put you back to where you started from. Running your own business is rewarding, but it also comes with a lot of stress and anxiety – which can impact your passion. If you want to thrive in the long term, you have to focus on cleaning up the environment that’s affecting you every day. Psychologist and popular Instagrammer, Dr Julie, makes the point perfectly with a fish tank:
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Do you feel your work environment could be extinguishing your spark? Think about the type of worker you are – what’s your happiest type of work environment and does your current set up offer you this? For example, do you have a designated quiet space to take a break in and decompress? Could the decor be jazzed up a bit, with brighter colours, plants? Are things neatly organised, with designated zones for certain tasks? Keep trial and error in mind – try something new and see what impact it has on your energy, enthusiasm and productivity.
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3. Talk to someone
According to a recent survey of small business owners by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), 96% said they keep the stress of running a business bottled up. Two-thirds felt as though they have nobody to talk to about their problem, with 63% admitting to deprioritising their mental health in the name of success. 56% feel like they need help with their mental health, but aren’t sure where to start. Talking to a counsellor is a really positive step forward. You don’t have to be at rock bottom to seek counselling – it’s an opportunity to explore your thoughts, feelings and behaviours so you can develop a better understanding of yourself and others. A counsellor will help you find your own solutions, whether it’s making changes in your life or finding ways of coping with problems. A great place to start is the BACP website (choosing a BACP-registered counsellor gives you an assurance that they meet the standards of proficiency, training and ethical practice you would expect).
4. Set goals for the year ahead
Having plans and goals for the upcoming year is a good idea. Set aside time to break these goals into smaller tasks to action each month, or even weekly. By scheduling them, you’re not only ensuring they’re actioned, but you know you’ve allocated time for them, helping you compartmentalise your workload. It’s a good feeling knowing you’re regularly working towards your business goals, as well as taking care of the more menial day-to-day tasks.
As your business grows, you might find yourself taking care of more menial tasks to keep your business ticking over. However, it’s in these moments that you are working in your business, rather than on it. While it’s hard to let go of certain tasks, it’s important to step away from the smaller tasks in order to focus on the bigger picture. Your employees will appreciate the additional responsibility and trust you’re giving them, which can only strengthen your team further.
If you’re not in a position to hire a team just yet, have a look at technology solutions that could streamline your workload, from accounting software to social media scheduling tools. Working with a qualified accountant will also assist in the running of your business – some offer bookkeeping, budgeting, cash flow forecasting, credit control and overall financial advice such as setting suitable, competitive prices. An accountant will also be able to offer you up-to-date information on any general or legal enquiries and be aware of the latest tax laws, regulations and deadlines. In short, they can take some of the stress off your shoulders when it comes to your finances, while working with you to ensure your business is on track to meet its goals.