This week the same point keeps coming up to me, whether it is in the podcasts I’m listening to, blogs and articles I’m reading or business groups I take part in. Either everyone is talking about the same topic or I am just highly tuned in to its presence - and that is that the overriding advice given by those who have achieved 'success' (whatever their success looks like) to those who seek it, is to continue to show up, every day, especially when times are the hardest.
This doesn’t mean slogging away alone in the name of unrelenting ‘showing up’ - this usually leads to increasing despair. The support of others can make the toughest times so much less harrowing. Chris Ducker says ‘surround yourself with other like-minded entrepreneurs that ‘get it’ to be able to take your own business to the next level’, and I have to say I agree!
Mentors, if you find the right one, are great to meet with regularly to discuss your business, to raise your head from the day to day running of it, and to help you to think strategically about the mid/longer term. Online groups offer a relatively immediate network of like-minded people not restricted by location, and of course, face to face meet ups give you the personal touch, with added tea and cake of course!
Neither does 'showing up' mean that you have to pursue a goal that you have decided is not for you, just for the sake of ‘keeping going’. This is most definitely wasting precious time that you could be dedicating to the right project.
But however passionate you are about your business, your skills and creativity, and the great service you are offering to your customers, running your own business is hard. We all have bills to pay with no guaranteed income at the end of the month. You might be working another job at the same time to fund your startup, so one work day blends in to another in the evening for many months, until you feel that you can make the leap and leave your ‘day job’. Often working from home can be demotivating and lonely, the days and weeks can become long and worry filled.
This is the time to dig deep.
It’s a well known fact, that despite small business survival rates being as high as 91 per cent after one year of trading, unfortunately after five years just four in ten small businesses will still be trading.
What are the main reasons?
"The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won't. It's whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere."
-- Barack Obama
Here are my top three tips for helping you to stay the course:
Set achievable goals… and be sure to celebrate the small wins. It’s easy to lose sight of where we have come over time, especially if we don’t look! Create a gratitude journal or similar to track your progress and look back regularly on how far you and your business have come! Reward yourself for a job well done and take credit for your hard work.
Take action. It is so easy to become stagnant and complacent in our progress, whether through general busyness, overwhelm, or sheer saturation of information and overthinking things. Take some time to work ON your business, and not just IN it. This is one of the greatest lessons I have learned. Be mindful of it. Leap into action and get out there to create results!
Surround yourself with inspiration. Associate yourself with other like minded people and utilise the ideas, support and motivation of others. Equally, take time out to renew and fuel your drive once more and appreciate the reasons you started your business in the first place.
It is my desire to help small businesses through the hard times and The Hills is here to promote the too-often unsung heroes and beauties of our British countryside. I want to work with you, and whatever your struggle, I’m here, with my network of other small supportive businesses.
I hope that you’ll become part of our ongoing conversation here at The Hills, sharing your thoughts, experiences and advice and engaging with other countryside lovers. Come and say hello and join our community network at The Hills!