Back when you started your small business, you were probably full of energy, ideas and a can-do attitude. Life has changed a little since then. This isn’t the best climate for business success without sacrifice, fancy footwork, and burning a few barrels of midnight oil. If too many sleepless nights and endless work chores are making you regret taking the entrepreneurial path:
Make a list. Small business problems fall into two broad categories: things you can do something about and things you can’t do anything about right now. Sit down and start putting the things that are bugging you into “can fix” and “can’t fix” columns. You might discover that addressing a few of the things on the can fix side of your list will help you feel better about everything else.
Feeling discouraged about your business can be the result of worry over one or two huge problems, but it can also be cumulative — a response to dozens of smaller complications that seem more daunting than they actually are. The process of writing them down will get you moving in the right direction. The exercise can be cathartic all by itself, which is one reason this suggestion is first on our list.
Keep your employees motivated. One of the hardest things to do on a daily basis is walk into a hostile work environment. Employees perform assigned tasks for pay, but their contribution doesn’t stop there. Employee attitudes and their combined energy help create a work environment that will either buoy you up or bring you down. If morale is an issue at your office, store, or warehouse, start addressing it today. Resolve longstanding issues, and get grievances out in the open where they can be dealt with. Once you clear the air, work will be a much more productive and enriching place to be — for you and for your staff, too.
Embrace research. In the electronic age, information is just a click away — and it can liberate you. One of the best ways to get out of a slump is to learn something new. New manufacturing processes, construction materials, energy options, marketing strategies, transportation tactics, and management maneuvers will get your creative juices flowing and help you refocus your business plans or change them altogether.
Take things a step at a time. You have to perform some long range planning in your small business, but anticipating problems and focusing on all the things that could go wrong is a big waste of energy. It’s an enthusiasm zapper you just don’t need.
Schedule some down time. You’ve heard it before: All work and no play (sleep or home life) is bad for you. It’s bad for your business too. If you’ve ever forgotten someone’s name and then thought about something else for a moment only to have the name pop into your head, you know the value of changing your focus, even for a little while.
Sleep is a big attitude adjustment tool, too. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), at least one in three of us is walking around sleep deprived, a condition that makes us more easily irritated and less able to think quickly when we have to.
If you’re starting to think your small business glass is half empty, do something about it. Your business may need an infusion of cash and more hands to do the work, but even if those things aren’t available right now, changing your attitude for the better will make working with fewer resources easier. It could even help you discover new ways to solve those knotty problems that have been keeping you up nights.