As a small business owner there are many pitfalls that await you. There are countless ruts along the road to success that can threaten to drag you down and impede your progress.
But if you’re aware and have some strategies in place to deal with them BEFORE they happen, it’s more likely that they will be stumbles, rather than complete wipeouts that take weeks to recover from.
Today I want to talk about a few common ruts I see my clients getting into and provide some suggestions for recognizing them, and getting out of them quickly, when they inevitably happen.
First thing, let’s assess WHY you getting stuck in a rut…are you letting insecurities about your business get you down? Are you regularly letting problems and glitches that arise trainwreck your week? Are you doing too much dreaming and not enough execution? Here are my suggestions to combat each of these scenarios:
1. Negative Nelly
Are you whispering damaging thoughts to yourself? For example, have you told yourself recently that you should be further along in your business? Have you criticized yourself for getting behind on your emails? If this is the issue, you must recalibrate your mindset. Try to re-set when these thoughts creep into your psyche. If you aren’t able to reduce or eliminate them, work on a counter-thought. For example, remind yourself of your goal for the week, which will help take your mind off the negative and focus on something productive. Or review your accomplishments from the prior week so you don’t lose sight of what IS getting done. It’s very easy to drift to the land of problems instead of stepping back to look at the full picture — resist the urge!
2. Trainwreck Central
Problems are going to arise in your business, that’s just part of the game. Some problems need to be dealt with immediately, and it’s a good idea to have some time planned into each week to do just that. However, a lot of business owners get caught up in EVERY unhappy customer and EVERY glitch that happens in a day. Warning! That’s when you will find yourself in a constant state of putting out fires, never having the time to do the important work that you ALSO need to accomplish.
If it’s a real problem that you need to deal with (but not something you have to deal with this minute), create a new task in your project management system to address the issue (I highly recommend using a project management tool if you aren’t already using one). When you do this it allows you to let problems go since you know they have been captured and are scheduled to be addressed. Don’t let impatience throw your week off by making you feel like you have to put everything aside and deal with every problem that arises RIGHT NOW — sometimes that’s necessary, but often it’s not. Putting a process like this in place can go a long way to helping to reduce anxiety and allow you to stay on track.
3. Dream vs Reality
When you’re a small business owner, particularly a solopreneur, it’s important to dream and to always be looking ahead. But watch out for that caution sign! If you’re looking ahead TOO much, you may be missing what’s right in front of you today. The truth is there’s always a new project, idea or concept to chase, and it can be easy to get stuck in the cycle of “the shiny new thing”. While it’s great to dream, it’s also important to make sure you are taking the necessary steps towards making those dreams a reality. This means ensuring that with every great idea you have a plan to help execute it.
A good way to avoid getting stuck in that “shiny new thing” cycle is to schedule planning sessions in your business, and know that THIS is your time to dream. You don’t want to develop a power struggle between dreaming and execution so, on a monthly basis, develop a project plan with scheduled weekly tasks. On a weekly basis, focus on your goal(s) for the week. It’s hard to go an entire week in execution mode, especially if you are a dreamer, so dedicate at least 2 or 3 days to pure execution. This way you can strike a balance rather than jump between extremes, and by hyper focusing on execution a few days per week, you can streamline your days, which will eventually free up more time to research, network or even clean up your email account.
No matter what the cause of your rut is, when you feel those gears grinding and slowing, having a strategy to get them moving again can save you a lot of time, money and heartache. The reality is there will be many ruts along the road, and it’s the wise business person who is present and prepared enough to recognize and resist them BEFORE falling into the quagmire.
If you find yourself stuck in a rut, take a few minutes to think about what is causing your blockage. Could it be one of the items above? If so, take the suggested steps to move yourself forward.