Once upon a time, you boldly walked away from a job and opened your own business. Whether your office was a corner table at Starbucks, or your kitchen table, you were creating work on your own terms and it was thrilling. You were energized by the freedom and flexibility of doing work that you loved with the clients that you chose.
Over time, the burning fires of love for your business have grown cold. Your dream has become a grind. A client campaign did not go well, or perhaps you lost a client or two. Your business feels stagnant and you feel stuck. You are browsing jobs on LinkedIn and dreaming of a simpler life. You may even go on an interview, only to realize that you would rather stab yourself with a fork than return to cubicle nation.
If you wish you could turn back time to the good old days, below are a few ideas to help you renew the romance or begin a new and exciting relationship.
Review your job responsibilities
Running your own business means you wear a multitude of hats. As your business grows, you may be doing less of what you love and more of the necessary, but not so fun back-end tasks. If you are spending a great deal of time doing things you do not enjoy such as compiling reports, invoicing or putting information into spreadsheets, it may be time to tweak your job description. Assess your day-to-day activities with a critical eye. What really needs to be done by you and only you? Outsource the tasks that are important to the business but can be done by others. Your time and peace of mind are well worth the investment.
Serve a different market
Sometimes the friends you keep could be the problem. A market that once may have been interesting may no longer be the best fit. Or, perhaps you are serving a market that is no longer growing. As a communications professional, your skill set is transferable. You don’t have to be stuck in the same market. Test the waters by subcontracting with an agency or another solo in a different market, or start out with smaller projects before you take the leap.
Reinvent your offering
You may no longer be in love with the services that you are offering. You may have had a plan for what you offer and took on work initially to pay the bills that now comprise your entire practice. Or, perhaps you are burned out on certain tasks that you once loved. The good news is that you can change it, you’re the boss! If you no longer want to offer writing or media relations, remove it from your services or bring on a team member or contractor to perform the work under your guidance.
Learn something new
There is nothing more energizing than learning something new. Are there services you would love to offer but don’t have the skill set to do? Take an online class, read a book or sign up for a community college course. Learning and applying it to your business is a great way to reenergize yourself but you can also learn something completely for the fun of it. Take a painting or cooking class, or indulge in TED talks. Stretching yourself can put the spring back in your step and give you a fresh perspective on your business.
Find your tribe
You are not alone. Other solo pros have been in your shoes and can offer the support and camaraderie that you need. Find a meetup, participate in an industry group or join a group like Solo PR Pro Premium. Having the support and camaraderie of a like-minded group can reenergize your outlook as well as give you ideas on how to make your business more interesting again.
Working with other people is a great way to recharge your batteries. Team up with another solo pro or collaborate with a business that serves your market with complementary services. This allows you to remain independent while enjoying the benefits of teamwork.
Take time off
Take a vacation! Whether you treat yourself to an extra long weekend or a week off, you need a break. It is easy to burn out when you are never stepping away from the business. You need time away from email, Google alerts and client phone calls. Grab your calendar and plan a few short breaks and at least one real vacation this year. You can take a day off with very little planning. For longer breaks, prep your clients in advance and ask another consultant to back you up if there is an emergency in your absence.
If you’re not feeling the love for your business, you do not have to give up your entrepreneurial dreams. You may be in a rut and need to shake up your process, offerings or the market you serve to rekindle your passion. Remember that even people in a dream job can get bored or have bad days.
Have you tried any of these tips? What would you add to the list? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos | imagerymajestic