Running your business can be hard, rewarding, frustrating, exciting, scary and freeing. But what are those all-important qualities you need to nurture to look after yourself in the troughs and triumph in the peaks?
I’ve been running my own businesses since 2013, and it’s not all been an easy ride. There have definitely been times when I started looking at job ads, because I was tired and frustrated by feeling like I always had to hustle to bring in work. To always be ‘on’. And the lure of getting a monthly pay check in my bank every month was great.
But then I would remember the joy I get from working with others, from supporting people to grow their business, from the community I have built up. And when I looked at what I was achieving I knew it was foolhardy to give it all up.
Here are the skills I’ve employed to help me build a successful business, and I want to share them with you!
1. Build your community
This has to be the number one thing that will keep you going when you feel tired and exhausted by running your own business. It will give you strength. There is power in numbers.
You may feel that friends and family you knew before you started your business might not ‘get’ it. Some will, and that’s fabulous, but there’s generally a cohort that will see you when you’re struggling and because they love you suggest you go and get a ‘proper’ job.
Find like-minded people who know what it is to run a business. Meet with them regularly if you can. You can find these connections on twitter chats, in Facebook groups, on Eventbrite, in meet-up. There are groups of entrepreneurs everywhere.
And this doesn’t have to be your stereotypical ‘networking’. Yes, networking is great. The more people know you exist the better.
But really what I am talking about here is a group of people like you.
I started the Blue Stockings Society in 2014 for just these reasons. I needed a group of people like me and if you’re not with us yet and you’re a lady you can join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/bluestockingssociety
2. Go with the flow
Here’s the thing, if you make a business decision and getting it done feels like you are rolling a boulder up a hill, it might not be the right business decision.
Be open to possibilities, see what doors naturally open for you, take the path of least resistance. I’m not saying there will never be resistance, it’s life right? But look for what feels good and natural. If you’re faced with several possibilities what feels like the right choice?
3. Trust your instincts
There are almost always right. Does that new client feel like an arse? You are probably right? Does that social media post your writing feel a little wanky, you are probably right! Is that thing you’re doing make you feel sick in your stomach and you want to turn and run? Listen to that!
Yes, we need to make decisions based on fact, on numbers, on figures, but also listen to what your body is telling you. If it doesn’t ‘feel’ right it generally isn’t.
4. Know your why
What are you put on the planet to do? Why do you do what you do? Why do you love doing what you do you decided to make this big crazy leap of faith and start a business doing it?
Yesterday I was at the ‘Yes’ group in Nottingham, which is a personal development group celebrating success. And the speaker talked about finding out what you were out on the planet to do. He talked about it in terms of a promise you made when you came to earth, which is a little out of my comfort zone. But I do appreciate that we all have a certain thing that we are really passionate about. What is it that you are passionate about?
If you had a megaphone and you could say one thing to the world, what would it be?
5. Be prepared to be vulnerable
Putting yourself out there and saying this is what I do and why I do it is effectively putting yourself on a stage. People will judge you, but then they have been judging you since you came out of the womb, so what’s changed!?
To be truly in your zone, to be able to make the change you want in the world, to live the life you want to live, you have to step out.
There is strength in being vulnerable. Get out, be seen, your business will not be successful with you hiding away.
Your customers need you! And they are only going to find you if you get out there, network, post on social media, create videos, write blog posts, grab the microphone on a stage, be a guest on a podcast.
6. Stretch yourself
If something feels uncomfortable because it’s out of your comfort zone, but you know in your gut it will help your business. Do it.
If you stay where feels comfortable your business will find it hard to grow. Those stretches give your strength, they give you new skills, they give you confidence. You can do it!
7. Work on your mindset
How you feel about things will affect your life. So just like working your muscles while running. Work on your mindset. Note down how you feel about things, write down your wildest possible dreams, focus on the business you want to create, how much profit you want to make.
Stretch your thinking as far as you can. Imagine earning £100,000 – how does that make you feel? What feelings about money came up? Know you might not want to earn £100,000, but it’s interesting to note your reaction. Are you telling yourself stories about money that are holding you back?
Listen to your thoughts? Are you telling yourself this won’t work? If you’re in a period of growth, are you thinking ‘well it won’t last’. Well you know what if you have that attitude it won’t.
Catch those thoughts, and think about how you can turn them around. Just like a muscle it might hurt at first, maybe the muscles contracts and you have less movement for a while. But keep working on it.
If you are negative, and posting negative things on Facebook and moaning to everyone you see (this is the worst case scenario), then guess what? 1. People are going to get pretty bored of you eventually and 2. Your business isn’t going to grow. You’re just not putting out the right vibes!
Dust yourself off, remind yourself why you’re doing this and focus on the positives. There are always positives. If I can find the positives in having cancer and going through 6 months of chemo with a one-year -old baby, you can find the positives in your business and your bank balance.
Focus on what is good and where you are going.
8. Beware of scarcity
More mindset stuff here. But beware of when you think things are scarce. Money, clients, work. Focus on abundance. The more you think work is scarce, the more you start seeing people in your field as evil competition coming to take away your work. 1, that doesn’t feel nice and 2, what are you telling yourself about yourself and your business?
There is enough to go around. Imagine what the first Bangladeshi restaurant owner thought when another restaurant opened next to him in Brick Lane in London?
9. Stop procrastinating
Just do it already! Take action! As scary as it feels, or not quite perfect, procrastination can be the death of you.
Whatever you create now won’t be as good as what you are going to create in 2 years’ time, so give yourself a break and just get it out there!
Thinking about launching an online course, get something out there! Want to speak to someone higher up your think could help you, just reach out and contact them. Want to create a video, just go for it.
The first time you do anything won’t be your greatest achievement, but you know what, people like imperfect people – it makes us all look better.
10. Keep on learning
You’ll learn new things every day. Keep pushing what you know. Watch Ted lectures, read blog posts, catch up on the latest youtube tutorials. There is so much information out there for free and this is before you’ve even looked at working with that coach or signing up to an online course.
Always aim to be the best you can in your field. There has never been an easier time to learn things!
11. Believe in yourself
Kind of a mindset thing here. You have to believe in yourself. Write down ‘I am enough’ 20 times. Write nice messages to yourself. Be your best friend. Don’t judge yourself. Congratulate yourself when things go well. Be kind to yourself when things don’t go quite so well.
Know that you’re just a human who wants to be loved, like everyone else and love yourself.
12. Create goals
Where do you want to go? How are you going to get there if you don’t know where you are going?
Write down those all important goals and then break them down into actions so you can make them a reality!
Know what success looks like. And reward yourself when you reach those goals.