The Self-Employment Slump

Sometimes running a small business gets lack-luster or stressful.  There are ups and downs, bumps in the road, motivation deficits, and general worries you didn't even see coming.  As with everything in life, there are seasons that are tricky, and unfortunately self-employment is no exception.  When these seasons hit, there are several things we at FIVE:thirty practice, and would like to share with you.  READ: This is not a comprehensive list of "to-do's" that will make any problem disappear, rather a template of ideas you might find useful when running your business is just plain wearing you out! 

  1. Remember Why You Started.
    • The first few days of your company were probably filled with anticipation, a little nervousness, and lots of excitement.  Remember those days, and remind yourself that where you are today is just as filled with potential.  You never know what your next contract or project might be! As in often repeated relationship advice, going back to the reason you "fell in love" with starting a business of your own might help you get back on track with some purpose!
  2. Enjoy the Journey.
    • It can be easy to get caught up wishing for better times in the future when times are tough, but the real magic of success is enjoying every step of the process. Like Wayne Dyer said, "When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor.  It's to enjoy each step along the way." Think of your multi-faceted small business as the music, the dance, and the steps. In business (and in life) the key is to enjoy each step for what it is, even if you stumble or get tripped up a little.  It's only one step, and it's okay to take things lightly even when there's a lot on your plate.
  3. Refuel Your Fire.
    • It's easy to let your physical health go by the wayside when business gets stressful, but the last thing you want is a string of hangovers or a trash can full of candy wrappers that stifle your creativity and focus.  Continue eating normally, moving your body as much as you can, and take time to practice sports or take up a new adventure to keep you active.  We are certainly not saying to add a rigorous workout schedule to your already hectic life, but just take note during slumps or difficult times that you're not putting your health on the back burner entirely. Bonus: endorphins!
  4. Reignite Your Motivators.
    • Whatever you're passionate about- indulge yourself in it! Find a new book you'll love, attend a local government initiative you're passionate about, take a camping trip, paint a piece, or start your DIY project.  Taking time to immerse yourself in things that ignite your creativity or passion are proven to strengthen your problem solving skills. Companies like Google have even practiced "20% time" to stimulate this- they encourage employees to use 20% of on the clock time to work on any project they want that's not a current work project.  Many of their most lucrative services were a result of this creative time.
  5. Attend a Class or Workshop.
    • Sometimes, we just need a new, fresh perspective.  Attending a workshop or local CEU course can help you get a new lease on things you might not have known you needed to consider.  Check a local community calendar to find events near you to attend; many are cost-free, not to mention great networking opportunities.
  6. Step Away from the Screen- More Often.
    • Occasionally, "getting away from work" when things are busy looks like taking an actual lunch break. While we all know it's important to get proper sleep, take time for proper meals, and exercise, sometimes you need a full day off.  It sounds counterintuitive when you're crunched for time, (and trust me- coming from a workaholic I understand just how difficult this is) but studies show taking several mini vacations may lead to more productivity in the long haul. Take a few Friday's off, leave early on a Monday, or create new hours of operation that are more seasonal to your customer base.
  7. Make Mini Changes.
    • You might just need a new office plant, work station tool, or lamp to make your days a little brighter when the season is trying.  Perhaps a re-organization of your desk or filing system is in order to help you feel rejuvenated!  A staff team-bulging session might energize the office, create new operational ideas, and make your days a little easier.  Building in small changes and rewards to your day just might help motivate you when times get tough, or progress is slower than you'd like.
  8. Master Your Trade.
    • Get even better at what you do- studies show mastery (the desire to get better and better) is a snowballing effect of productivity and satisfaction! The more you do, the better you get, the more you want to do it, the better you get, the happier you are. That's a cycle we can get on board with! Mastery is also an "intrinsic reward", meaning that you feel satisfaction just by doing the task itself rather than gaining a reward after the task is complete.
  9. Take Charge.
    • The best thing about self-employment is that you really do have the power to change your days- even when it feels like you don't.  Get up earlier, work later, reschedule your days, take up "No Meeting Monday" or "Email Free Friday". You have the power to restructure, now use it! It's also okay to reinvent your schedule every few months, or seasonally if you have a store-front.  Feeling a sense of autonomy is another "internal motivator", so even remembering you have the ability to change your schedule might feel satisfying enough to boost your productivity and mood!

Like we mentioned, these 9 ideas are certainly not a set of one-size-fits-all solution to everything, but when self-employment feels stressful or challenging, it's nice to have a few tricks up your sleeve.  Let us know what your "go-to" actions are when you're feeling the self-employment slump, and remember to get in touch with us if some of your tasks require a company that will show you how good #ConsultingWithCare can be!