I talk to a LOT of businesspeople every day. I often find the people who are struggling in their day-to-day… maybe not their business in terms of profitability as such, but within themselves. Their own minds work against them, holding them back; they’re worried, stressed, certainly not enjoying their business as much as they should.
Are you smiling and bearing it and hiding your pain? Or driving everyone around you a little cray from your constant worrying?
Now, we all have bad work weeks, even those of us who have followed our dreams and created freedom and flexibility in our lives with our businesses – that’s completely natural.
However it’s those who are continually stressed and freaking out, so much so their work lives have become a misery of their own making, that really concern me. Maybe it’s not every day, but too frequently to tip the scale towards career satisfaction. These people have a few things in common, and I want to share them with you.
The below behaviours are shared by many business people – even those who are inarguably successful in what they do – who find it hard to relax and enjoy what they have created, just as it is. Disclaimer – this is not a pointing of the finger. I’m not trying to haul anybody over the coals, but hold up a mirror so you can take a moment of self-reflection and maybe change your way of thinking to get back to the joy in business.
1. They want to make EVERYONE happy.
Of course we all need to be listening to our clients and concerning ourselves with their opinions (at least to a point!), but you really need to resign yourself to the fact that this is an IMPOSSIBLE feat. There is nobody, not anywhere, not anyhow, who is 100% of the time making absolutely everyone happy. Give up that pursuit and instead make you happy with your business values. If in your actions you are following these, you can’t go wrong. Make a list, refer to it often.
2. They worry far too much what other people will think.
You have an idea for your business, but you’re too afraid to try it out to see what the response is. That’s not cool, guys. You need to be free to take small risks – put out a new concept, try a new service or product. You can always take it out of your packages or off your menu if nobody is biting. At least you can say you gave it a go! Try, fail, learn. There is NO shame in this.
3. They crunch the numbers and FREAK OUT.
Numbers are down from last year. Last year your business grew by 40% in the first quarter, and now you’re down 10%! Eeeeeek, right? No! Last year was just a really big year and you saw unusual growth. If this year is falling just short of that, then you’re NOT failing. HOWEVER, just to be sure… have a look at the activities you were undertaking this time last year, and the three months prior – are you doing the same? Look at the industry as a whole – has it changed? Look at your life right now – is it actually better or worse off than what it was when you were flogging yourself this time last year? Now… do you need that 10% back? And if you genuinely do, how can you generate that growth in the next three months to make up for it? The year isn’t over, friends, and the great thing about self-employment and your career growth – there’s no ceiling! You don’t need to wait for someone to give you a raise or a promotion – you put in more and you go next level all by yourself on your own terms!
4. They compare themselves to everyone else around them.
Looking around at other businesses for motivation isn’t a bad thing. When you see others in your same field flying, this can really get you gritting your teeth, knuckling down and ultimately making magic. However if you’re looking around and moaning, “Why can’t I produce work like that?”, “Dammit, why didn’t I think of that?”, “They’re getting all the clients I want!”, “They’re more talented than me!”, or the worst… “They get all the luck!” Then you’ve got a BAD ATTITUDE, Missy or Mister! And it’s time for you to quit your moaning and get on with what you do best. You do NOT need to have the same style as the person down the road, because guess what – not everyone wants his/her style, anyway! You do you, and let everyone else do them.
If you’re lacking for ideas, it’s time to take a walk to a nice spot, sit and put pen to paper – clarify your goals and develop ideas. If you find this hard to do alone, find someone who you trust and whose opinion you value, shout them a coffee and talk it out with positivity and excitement for what possibilities lie ahead. Appreciation for others’ work is good. Jealousy is bad.
5. They speak poorly of their competitors.
It’s really simple: if you’re doing your best and focusing on your business, there is no need to bag out anyone else. If you’re speaking badly of someone else in your field, it’s time to ask yourself why you feel the need to do this instead of concentrating on your business and doing what you do well. You cannot build your brand while tearing someone else down. Instead either mind your beeswax, or… actually start looking at what others around you do well and speak positively about them. It costs you nothing to give a compliment directly or indirectly to someone doing something well.
6. They’re listening to the wrong people.
People who tell you your goals aren’t achievable are the first you should stop listening to. 10 years ago someone close to me told me I could never – NEVER create my own magazine. “You just can’t do that, Sally”, were the actual words spoken. With a 1-year-old child and barely two coins to rub together, my eyes narrowed and my mind was firmly set. Yes, I bloody well could. So don’t ever tell me you can’t do something, because you bloody well can. Like water off a duck’s back, you let those comments slide right off and get on with your plan – no matter how long it takes!
Other wrong people to listen to include, but are not limited to…
The Ones Who Tell You To Be Ruthless
No, there’s no need to be ruthless in business. You need to have a thick skin and not be anyone’s doormat, but ruthless is not something you NEED to be in business. “Business is business” is bullshit – if you’re saying this, you’re probably just not being very nice and justifying your actions with a dinosaur saying.
The Ones Saying You’re Too Big or Too Small For Certain Opportunities
I say, if it feels right, you’re right for it. Follow your gut!
The Ones Steering You Away From What You Know Works
We all need to keep up with the times and welcome change, but if you have a tried and tested part of your business that has always served you well, but someone’s knocking your confidence by saying it should be thrown out, you do not have to listen to that. If it’s working, then it’s right.
7. They are too concerned with trends.
Sure, have your finger on the pulse, but don’t change your business model with every passing trend, or you’ll be forever chasing a unicorn and your credibility will be shot with a distinct lack of consistency. Be dependable first, on-trend second.
8. They are FEARFUL of new competition.
We all know it – there is always someone waiting in the wings, ready to swoop in and knock you off your pedestal. Sure, competition will come… and sometimes it will be gone as fast as it came. Don’t let new competition throw you off your game. Just be the best at what YOU do.
If you recognise yourself in any of these points, please don’t take it to heart. Just consider whether your thoughts and actions are doing you more harm than good. Chill, self-assess and remember why you started your business in the first place. Get your “Why” firmly back in the forefront of your mind and keep going, because you’re amazing. You really are!