There are a lot of things that mirror business and a relationship. In the beginning the excitement is palpable and you can’t wait for the next thing you are going to together. The excitement is bound to wear off somewhere just after the honeymoon…that is when real life sets it in and for us it really happened when we had kids. All of the sudden all of your time is just spent dealing with what is right in front of you. What a client is asking for at the moment or who needs their diaper changed…neither one of those can wait very long and tend to trump all the other stuff you would like to be doing.
After elements had been open for a while the reality that all of these people are depending on us to make their work situation viable set in. Everything we do in our lives has to take the studio into account. Much like when you get married, you have another person (or business entity…) that is part of all of your decision making.
We have found some things that can really help get you through the end of the honeymoon period as you work towards the stability and longevity period.
Remember and define why you are doing what you are doing.
We joke that we started Elements for minivan money. We did it because of our kids and we wanted to be able to provide for their future. Our “Why” is education and experiences for our kids.
Find some quick wins. Complete something you have been putting off.
Make the sales call you have been waiting until the perfect moment to make. Do something that you can be happy is off your list. A big part of this stage of the business life cycle for me is that it never feels like I am “caught up”. So doing something that I can check of my list is a great feeling.
Take ownership in the things that are taking the enjoyment out of the business.
If you own problems and accept them as your own, you can begin to fix them. If you walk around feeling like there is nothing could have done to avoid a problem then you also feel like there is nothing you can do to solve it. If I take ownership of the problem then I can get creative to find a way out of it. If I had a part at getting us into this, then I have a part in getting us out as well. I learned this lesson from Troy Hazard after hearing him speak and reading his book, “Future Proofing your Business.”
Make a list of the things that are specifically making it less enjoyable.
Clearly it isn’t the whole thing! If you can write down and define the exact things that need to change to increase your enjoyment level you can begin to tackle them. Give yourself some actionable items. This can also go well with #1 on this list. Some of the things that are bothering you may be very easily solved once they are clearly defined.
Don’t let the challenges of your business make everything else no fun too.
This is no doubt the hardest on the list. As business owners we do take it personally and I believe we should. But don’t let it bleed into your personal/family life. Enjoy things that are enjoyable because while you are doing those things you can’t do anything about the other stuff.
Complaining has never gotten anyone anywhere and no one is listening anyway. It is fine to vent to a friend or mentor. Talk with others about the problem and the angles it can be attacked from. But complaining has the same end result as not owning the problem-it takes you out of control. Complain about the weather because there is nothing you can do about it, but don’t complain about a business problem that can be solved if you put your mind to it.
I am constantly reminding myself this is what we signed up for and we never thought owning our own business would be easy. I know why I like being a small business owner, but that doesn’t mean that I am going to like every task that comes along with it. When we had our first child someone told me that some of the minutes and days would pass very slowly but he years would fly by. It was one of the best predictions I have ever heard and it is also holding true with our business.
While there are some pieces of this growth stage that have been frustrating and less exciting/fun than I had hoped, I look at what we have accomplished over the life of the business and I can’t help but be proud. Today may seem long, but keep the whole picture in perspective.