This is a recent post I wrote on sanity in small business for Flying Solo, of which I am a regular contributor. It’s a great place to find information on how to run a better business as a solopreneur. There are a lot of really talented business people and writers over there and I’m blessed to be in such esteemed company. Let me know what you think!
Small business and sanity?
Sanity in small business – is it really possible? We all have our breaking points as small business owners, so what are you going to do about it?
I’m not going to lie. Being in business can quite literally feel like it’s doing your head in. Like an out-of-control freight train, my biz has almost wiped out my marbles on a number of occasions and I’ve found when you’re not in top mental health ‘business’ gets a whole lot harder.
Here are some steps I took a few months ago to try and get both my business and my mind back on track.
I took a holiday
I’d been in business for more than two years working around the clock and I’d never taken a proper holiday. So at Christmas last year I’d decided I was taking three weeks off and I wasn’t doing any client work – I wasn’t going to reply to emails or take phone calls. Of course, I let my clients know as a courtesy that I’d be away and I gave them plenty of time to have content written before I shut up shop. For me, shutting up shop meant no income for those three weeks. But I didn’t care. I desperately needed time out.
I sacked my clients
Not all of them, just the ones who weren’t ideal. Now this may sound like a severe thing to do – and it was. I did it right before Christmas too, so I was genuinely wondering (AKA worrying) how I was going to take said holiday given the clients I broke up with accounted for around 40-50 per cent of my regular monthly revenue.
“Like an out-of-control freight train, my biz has almost wiped out my marbles on a number of occasions.”
I’d given it a lot of thought though and to be honest these clients were stressing me out. I knew I had to do something drastic for the sake of my health.
I stopped networking
Now, don’t get me wrong here, networking is at the top of my marketing funnel because of the relationships and work I can generate from it fairly quickly. What I did in this instance was I stopped going to events where my ideal customers weren’t going to be and started going to places where they were hanging out.
I said NO
I also stopped saying yes to every opportunity thinking it would help in the future.
I said no to things that didn’t suit me. I said no to things that weren’t going to work for me. I said no to things that were going to require a lot of work from my end. I upset a few people along the way. But do you know how liberating it is to say no without justification or explanation? Very.
At this point you may be thinking, “OMG are you crazy? Liz, have you gone mad?”. But guess what happened when I did these things:
When I took a holiday and did no client work I was able to look at my small business as a whole and really think about what I wanted and where I wanted to go. Funnily, it wasn’t where I was taking the business (or should I say, where the business was taking me). So I changed its direction and now I’m on a new and different track, travelling in a direction that really excites me.
I also relaxed and had some chill time with myself to just be. Best. Decision. Ever.
When I sacked those clients I made way for new ones to come into my life; those ideal ones who value what I do and appreciate how I can help. The income I lost by winding up contracts was quickly replaced with new ways to generate revenue and beautiful ideal clients in my chosen target market. It really did happen that quickly.
When I stopped going to networking events (or any other events for that matter) where my ideal clients weren’t hanging out, I found new opportunities and started meeting some really cool, like-minded people in my chosen space. Instead of the usual one-off jobs, I’ve found new partnerships where I’m able to do bigger, better and more ongoing work.
When I said no, I felt empowered and ready to take on the world. I didn’t get into my small business to work for someone else. If I wanted to do that I would have stayed on as an employee chained to my desk for the rest of my life. I wanted more. I wanted to design my own life. I wanted to do something I loved every single day.
What I actually wanted was to do my grocery shopping on Wednesday at 11.30am. I wanted to work from Cairns while being with my family. I wanted to stay in my PJ’s until 3pm every day if I chose to. (I actually did that for the first week. The sheen wears off pretty quickly).
Saying no allowed me to really check in with myself and ensure my business was delivering the lifestyle I needed to.