Let’s not sugarcoat it – the entrepreneurial road is often far from smooth. For every peak moment you experience there will be more than a few terrifying lows. It’s part of the journey, the price you pay for stepping away from the comfort and security of the nine-to-five.
Left unattended though, those low points can very easily morph into long-term ruts. It’s all too easy for a few seemingly minor setbacks to blossom into a state of permanent crisis that’s difficult to dig your way out of.
In this article, we’re going to tackle that scenario head-on and break down what you need to do when you find yourself at the bottom of the business barrel staring up.
Commit to action on our points below and you can claw your way out of even the most desperate situation in as little as six month’s time.
Let’s start making things better.
Clarity is the key
If you take nothing else away from this article, take away this: clarity is the key.
Until you get crystal clear about the reality of the situation you find yourself in, taking positive steps to rectify it is going to be nearly impossible. Unfortunately, by nature, we tend to shy away from looking worrying situations squarely in the eye – a shortcoming that gives problems space to breed.
When you’re stuck in the weeds and scrambling for solutions, it’s easy to play the blame game and focus your attention on imaginary causes far from the situation at hand. Maybe you’re convinced the economy is the ultimate source of your woes, or blame that local business rival for the sudden calamitous drop-off in sales leads you’re experiencing.
The uncomfortable truth is, nine times out of ten, the source of your problem usually lies substantially closer to home. You need to bring clarity into your life to address this.
Doing this involves two distinct stages:
- A full account and inventory of the situation you are in. Be massively specific here. You should be looking at concrete numbers rather than general feelings. Actual revenue rather than projected revenue. Deals closed rather than meetings scheduled. Where you are, not where you want to be.
- An honest appraisal of your role in creating that situation.
Tackling these stages is not for the faint-hearted but by forcing yourself to go through them you begin leveraging the awesome power of clarity and setting yourself up for future success.
Regardless of how uncomfortable you find it, the clarity created here will unlock your future capacity for action. Skip this step and you condemn yourself to continual stumbling around in a darkness of your own making.
Put aside any internal resistance you have about this and just do it.
Confidence is the engine of your success
Once you’ve faced up to the reality of your situation, you need to start taking massive immediate action to get out of it. Your new-found sense of clarity should already be helping you here by providing a concrete list of obvious short-term steps to take.
Adrenaline alone is probably enough to propel you through the first action items but you’ll need a slightly more advanced strategy to lock in longer term success.
Confidence is one of the key weapons in your arsenal.
If you’ve been going through some tough times of late, this might seem like a crazy thought. Based on your recent trials and tribulations, confidence is probably currently in pretty short supply. The key realisation you need to get to is that confidence is not some magical innate quality that people either have or don’t. Or something that only arrives after success.
Confidence can be cultivated, prepared in advance, stored up for future use. Begin building your confidence muscle and you’ll be substantially more effective in tackling any obstacles the road ahead may have in store for you.
Patrol the borders of your circle of influence
One of the classic signs of being in a slump is an overall lowering of standards. Little by little, more and more things in your immediate environment will start slipping.
Let things slide too far and you can end up in some spectacularly negative places, both professionally and personally. This is nowhere more apparent than in the circle of people you spend the most time with.
Who you surround yourself with matters.
This could be friends, family, colleagues or acquaintances. You will naturally end up the average of the six people you spend most time with. Start taking a cold, hard look at who those people currently are. This will sound harsh to some but your peer group has such an enormous influence on your prospects that you simply cannot afford to ignore it.
There is a very simple test for deciding who should be in your circle, at work or at home. Ask yourself this question after you meet someone: Do I feel better or worse? Energised or drained?
If the answer is regularly negative, this is somebody who is holding you back and actively contributing to your wider set of current problems. They need to go.
Scaffold your success with the power of habit
Let’s recap what we’ve covered so far. You’ve acknowledged the reality of your situation and started taking action. You’ve also started cultivating inner confidence to fuel your future output. And you’ve taken some hard decisions about the people you choose to spend your time with.
You’re already off to an excellent start. The focus now needs to shift to how you are going to maintain this positive momentum.
Success is a creature of habit. You need to start feeding that habit by building up positive routines and procedures you can rely on.
Rather than lurching through life from one crisis to another, you will be smoothly executing plans within a framework of your own design. A framework specifically optimised to keep you on target and heading in the direction of your dreams.
In your personal life, begin by taking a tip from ancient Rome: Mens sana in corpare sano – a healthy mind in a healthy body. Start paying attention to both your physical and mental well-being and put the maintenance of both on a fixed daily, weekly and monthly schedule.
In the arena of business, you need to start getting serious about organising your working life rather than flailing around fire-fighting. This means documenting your daily actions and creating standardised operating procedures for all important aspects of your business. It’s a task that will take time but the potential payoff is huge.
Rinse and repeat
Long-term success is simply a question of regularly walking through the steps we’ve outlined above, ideally on your own schedule and not when you’re forced into it by circumstances.
Begin incorporating these principles in your life and you will be astonished at the amount of change possible within even a short six-month period.
Stick with them and you and your business will thrive for many years to come.