A few months ago, my business and I were in a rut.
I was paying the bills, clients were happy, but somehow it had all turned into just another grind. Not getting a ton of the type of work I love doing and more of the work that drags me down. Then I started thinking maybe it was the business’s fault. I needed a brilliant new idea. I’d start a Rent The Runway/Etsy combo or MAYBE I’d sign up for Mermaid School in Montreal and run mermaid workshops in Seattle. We could sell mermaid costumes, and it would be so much fun!
I’m not saying there is anything wrong with either of those ideas. I think they both could be great, but in reality, both of those businesses would at some point turn into a grind too if I didn’t change my mentality. But, fantasizing about another, newer business is so much fun! The branding! All new colors! What fonts will I pick? Who will my new clients be?
It is EASY to fall in love with a new business idea.
Dreaming up the services and branding, thinking about all the people you can potentially help (and the money you might make!), it is all so exciting! After a while together, your business isn’t so new anymore, and you settle into a routine. In a way ( at least for me as a newer business owner) was nice at first. “Look! I’m doing it! I quit my day job, and I’m supporting myself. My clients love me. Yay!!”
After the initial thrill of just having a new business wore off, I had a lot of thinking to do. This is what I came up with, and it has been working like a charm! I hope it works for you too.
Remember Your “Whys.”
Yes “whys.” You hear a lot about “remembering your why.” I’m sure you’ve heard it approximately one bazillion times. I think this is very important, but I knew I needed two “whys.” One why helps me remember who I’m serving, the one that reminds me of my skills and gifts and how I can use them to make an impact in women’s businesses, even if in small and non-glamorous ways. Definitely spend the time to remember your version of this. Your loftier “why.” This is the one to inspire you and make you feel connected to a purpose and makes you feel valuable and of service.
That’s all well and good. And, believe me, I DO think this is super important, but some days you might find you need a more immediate “why” based on your lifestyle, desires, and needs. This secondary version the one that keeps you grateful for your business and how it provides for you or the potential it has.
For example, I relish working from home. It is just my favorite thing ever. My business lets me do this without working for peanuts. I love setting my own schedule, and I love that I can spend most days wrapped in a blanket in my baked potato slippers without judgment. I love that my two “coworkers” are my husband and my dog. When I’m feeling grumpy, these are the thoughts that pull me out of it. Your second why might look very different than mine, like maybe you just can’t stand staying in the same place, and your business lets you travel, but whatever it is, make this one all about YOUR needs.
See your business through someone else’s eyes.
Reread your testimonials, ask for feedback from peers or mentors, find out how your business has helped others in any way you can! Hearing it from others can help you hear how helpful you really are. And I KNOW you’re doing better than you think you’re doing.
Add some exciting new service or product that pushes you out of your comfort zone.
This will help both you and your business grow. Gretchen Rubin says, “Being happier requires you to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.” A business that pushes you to grow is a business that you love! I suggest picking one new offering that gets you pumped and then work on getting that, and that alone, up and running. I mean, you’ll still be offering whatever services or products you currently have (unless you resent doing them, then stop!), but I think it can be easy to find yourself overwhelmed with all you could be doing or offering. Just pick one new idea for now and get really good at providing it to your customers or clients.
Give your website and biz a makeover.
Maybe everything is just looking a little stale to you. I think refining the look and feel of your website and branding can breathe life back into a business. Switch your site’s theme, change up the graphics and colors, maybe invest in a new logo if you’re not in love with your current one, even get new business cards if those are your jam.
Take a vacation already!
If you can hire help to cover while you’re gone, fantastic. But if that’s not possible, sometimes a little distance makes the heart grow fonder. Tell your clients in advance and make it happen. Staycations are wonderful too. Burnout is a major quandary, and it can be hard to love something that smothers you!
Finally, know when it’s time to move on.
If nothing you do is getting you excited about your business again, it might be time for an exit plan. I’m breaking all the rules as far as how you build a business to sell, but you could start reading up on that. Your freelance business can be an asset! Take your name out of it and get everything tidy, get all your systems clearly defined, and whatever else you need to get it ready and start looking for a buyer.