Not every day as an entrepreneur will be profitable--or even satisfying. If you’re having one of those days, you may question why you started a business in the first place. Long hours, difficult employees, unreliable suppliers, poor cash flow and demanding customers will drive any human being to question their vocational choice.
Last week I worked with three separate business owners who all felt let down by their lack of entrepreneurial knowledge and preparedness. It’s not their fault. As the old saying goes, you don’t know what you don’t know. These smart, ambitious people once believed that if they practiced their trade well, clients would flock to their doors. They simply didn’t know that a new entrepreneur needs to wear many hats and that their once coveted skills of the trade would soon become the weakest link to success. This build it and they shall come attitude (which nearly every entrepreneur possesses at one time or another) can lead to high stress, anxiety, anger and even financial devastation. It squelches dreams and diminishes optimism, leaving a once hopeful business owner feeling trapped and overwhelmed.
Don’t worry. Even a seasoned entrepreneur can become disillusioned by the constant learning curve associated with growing a business in changing times. But instead of dwelling in confusion and negativity you can make positive choices and resolve, or prevent, many problems quickly and effectively. Begin by shifting your perspective with these simple steps.
1. Research and read.
In her frustration, one of my clients recently stated that there is no information out there to teach someone how to be an entrepreneur. Wrong! There’s a wealth of information out there. Subscribe to feeds on sites like Inc.com and Entrepreneur.com, listen to informative podcasts, seek out associations and organizations that educate and support entrepreneurs, and build time into your schedule to read one business book per month.
2. Don’t assume there is no solution.
A frustrated business owner can easily fall into feeling trapped and without options, but there is always an answer to your problem. If you assume there are no solutions you are mistaken and you will perpetuate that mistake, allowing it to become overwhelming and costly.
One of the clients mentioned above is a chiropractor. For years he worked under the assumption that he had to supply insurance companies with complex forms for every medical claim. This took hours away from his practice and led to years of frustration and procrastination. He never once thought that he might have been wrong about the insurance protocol. When I learned of this problem I suggested he attend a seminar on insurance billing. What he learned resulted in a substantial time savings, allowing him to increase his patient load and therefore his income--not to mention save his sanity.
3. Pay attention to your emotions.
Emotions, even when they feel negative, are a good thing. Those that don’t feel good, like anger, frustration and hopelessness are a barometer that tells us that the pressure is getting too great. At these times you may feel like you want to burst.
Don’t wait for your emotions to feel out of control before you take constructive action. A strong emotional response, if not tended to, will inhibit your ability to handle any given situation and grow your business. When you feel pangs of discomfort take the time to analyze why they are there and who or what can help you to resolve them.
4. Step away from the mess.
That’s how it feels, right? Like a giant mess that you can’t find your way out of. An entrepreneur must have the ability to take his or her emotions out of the mix to see the business objectively. It’s like building a puzzle: if you keep all of the pieces in the box it’s messy and nearly impossible to sort them out. But if you lay them out and examine them individually you can see how they all fit into the big picture.
When you are mired in emotions you waste a lot of time and energy. Take a day off! Do something you love and hit the reset button. Then approach your problem in a systematic way while remaining detached from the outcome. It takes patience and practice.
5. Engage a coach.
An experienced coach knows what questions to ask in order to assess the state of your business, as well as your state of mind. Coaching is not therapy, nor is it something that is reserved for struggling business owners. Successful people have coaches, unsuccessful people do not. Your coach can see the red flags and suggest solutions and resources to address them. His or her experience will become your guide to learning what you don’t know or understand. Coaches have seen and heard it all so there is no reason to feel shame or embarrassment about your situation. Your coach is your ally and will not only help you to sort it all out; she will help you to fall in love with your business again.