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Or coping with the ups and downs of running a business

I’ll admit it’s been a tough couple of months.

I fired a difficult client and took a gigantic financial hit. I’ve had issues with competitors and copycats and I’ve faced some fairly harsh criticisms online. This is on top of the thousands of everyday niggles and tiny problems that come with running your own business.

It’s made me question whether this entrepreneurial thing is really for me.

Lately I’ve longed for the warm comfort and stupefying tedium of working for ‘the man’. And this past week I’ve struggled to find my business mojo and scrape together sufficient enthusiasm to get through the day. But talk to me tomorrow and I’ll no doubt be happy again.

Perhaps a cool new project will plop into my inbox, an interesting opportunity will come a knocking. or an old client will write me a glowing testimonial.

It doesn’t take much to get me on the up and up again.

The truth, is running a small business is a constant series of peaks and troughs and feasts and famines.

One day your business crumpet lands butter side down, the next it’s butter side up.

So, how do you deal with this business rollercoaster?

Well here are my tips:

  • Seek support: Having a good network of shoulders to cry on and ears to bend really helps when you’re having a bad day or month. Often simply by talking it out (even in an online forum) you can find resolution.
  • Focus on the positive: Easier said than done I know but when things are going wrong, try to think of just one thing, however small, that went right.
  • Avoid negativity: Stay away from poo pooers and negative thinkers who fill your head with doom and gloom. And avoid those who let you wallow in self-pity (for too long).
  • Be realistic: While it’s important to have plans, it’s equally important not to get too attached to them. Yes you wanted to achieve X by Y, but does it really matter? Don’t stress if your ebook is a month late or you miss posting a blog or two. Most of your customers won’t even realise.
  • Find perspective: Try to remember that you’re not curing cancer (unless you’re an Oncologist). So your computer explodes and you miss a deadline. Big deal, sure your client may be disappointed, even angry, but it’s not the end of the world.
  • Do what you love: If you genuinely love your occupation you’ll cling onto that rollercoaster for dear life. Think of your business like your annoying toddler, who spills juice on the couch for the fifth time. Yes it’s annoying, even costly, but you still love them to bits and wouldn’t be without them.
  • Take a break: Sometimes when it all seems bleak, it’s a good idea to separate yourself from your business. Whether that’s a one hour yoga session or a sneaky day off at the movies. A little time away from the problem will help you see things more clearly.
  • Build processes: Usually businesses face the same problems again and again. So try to learn from each bad experience and create a process or plan for how you’ll handle it next time.
  • Be kind to yourself: Running a business is hard. If it were easy then everyone would be doing it, right? Most would agree it takes guts, determination, hard work, and intelligence to build and manage your own enterprise. But there’s one quality that’s often forgotten – compassion. Compassion not just for your clients but also for yourself.

business crumpetRemember to give yourself a slap on the back once in a while and be proud of all you’ve achieved.

Remember why you started your own business and use that as a light to guide you through the dark times.

Remember that running your own business can be emotional and stressful, but don’t forget that working for someone else has it’s own stresses. So cling on tight, enjoy the highs and cruise through the lows.

It may be a rollercoaster but at least you get to choose your own seat.

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confessions of a misfit entrepreneur with Kate Toon

You might like my book ‘Confessions of a Misfit Entrepreneur | How to succeed despite yourself’ – buy it online here.


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This article first appeared in Roar Magazine.

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