Entrepreneurship is not an easy career choice, and it’s not for everyone. Many people will fantasize about owning their own business, thinking that “it’s a dream” to ditch the corporate world. But then months or years into “the dream”, small business owners will lose that love they once had for entrepreneurship. Some will go back to a “real job”, others will get stuck in the unhappiness, and some will do whatever it takes to create an entrepreneurial life they love.
Personally, I’ve experienced all of the above. As a two-time business owner, I have loved it, hated it, ditched it, and gone back to it. Today, I can honestly say I love it. But there are things I do on a consistent basis to make sure I don’t fall back into the trap of hating small business ownership. These are the ideas I want to share with you.
Work with Clients and Contractors You Love
Chances are you spend a good majority of your time with clients. So, it would make sense that these individuals should be people you love. There is nothing worse than dreading interactions with your customers because they irritate you, drain you, or simply do nothing to fulfill you. Define your ideal client in great detail. Keep this vision in your mind, and carefully consider your choices before entering into an agreement with someone. Weed out the current clients that are dragging you down. I know it’s not always easy to turn away money, or sever a relationship, but the “wrong” clients will eventually take a toll on your happiness.
The same goes for the people you hire to help you, whether it’s staff members, contractors or vendors. Pick people you can laugh with, collaborate with, and grow with. One of my clients has been slowly getting rid of all the “bad seeds” in their organization. These individuals have toxic attitudes that block the potential for happiness in their practice. They might be good people, but a wrong fit will impede your progress, and make your life miserable.
Take Mental, Emotional and Physical Breaks
A few of my clients have been requesting my help creating more “white space” in their calendars. They need more room to breathe, to think, to relax, to exercise, and to get stuff done. Wearing multiple hats takes a lot of energy! And frequent breaks are the only thing that will refuel that energy. Take vacations (and do NOT work during vacation). Create downtime in your calendar. Stop working at a designated time. Walk away and go for a walk. Do something that fills you up. Pay attention to your body and your mind. When you start feeling irritable, exhausted, or disengaged, it’s probably time for a break.
Stop Procrastinating on the Dreaded Tasks
We all have them. Tasks we would rather avoid but need to get done. If you can afford it, outsource those tasks. If you can’t, just dig in and take action. Set aside some time at the best part of your day and commit to working for an hour on those tasks. Action and completion will make you feel good. It raises your self-esteem and gives you a general feeling of satisfaction. One of my clients was recently struggling with writing an article for her newsletter. Once she completed it and saw her work published in a beautiful monthly newsletter, she felt relieved and accomplished. When we are happy with ourselves, life is happier.
Do Work You Love and Emphasize Your Strengths
What energizes you? What kind of work leaves you feeling happy and fulfilled? What tasks make the most of your strengths? Do that work! Know yourself inside and out and be honest about who you are. My spouse is a natural born leader and can talk to anyone. She is a flexible, go with the flow kind of person. Strategic thinking and big picture views are her specialties. Please don’t bore her with details, processes, procedures, and paperwork. She becomes a growly bear. Put her in a room with lots of people. Ask her to oversee, manage and lead a group to follow a vision, and she’s a happy camper. Know your limitations (the things that create grief for you) and play to your strengths (the things that make you happy).
Stop Playing Negative Mental Games with Yourself
There are so many bad mental habits we can fall into as an entrepreneur. Here are just a few I know I’ve struggled with:
- Comparing yourself to other business owners and beating yourself up
- Doubting your abilities
- Second guessing your decisions
- Failure to forgive yourself for mistakes
- Not valuing yourself and your time
- Feeling guilty for this, that and the other
- Thinking you have to do it all yourself
- And so on…
Stop all of this. When you find yourself engaging in any of these thought patterns, do a hard reset. Reframe and put a positive spin on your thoughts. Positivity breeds happiness.
Entrepreneurship can be lonely at times. Sometimes you will feel like you have no support. You might think no one understands the life you have chosen, and they probably don’t if they are not an entrepreneur. Bottom line, you need to stay in relationship with people at all times. Don’t hide in your office. Get out. Meet people. Work to deepen the relationships you already have with customers, staff, and vendors. Reach out to fellow entrepreneurs. Be vulnerable. Share your heart…your fears, your joys, your doubts, your good news. We are all human beings, and we need relationships in our lives to feel happy and connected to our purpose.
Count Your Blessings
Sometimes when I am feeling sorry for myself, I think, “I could go out and get a job making $100k, and not have to worry about how I will create income for myself.” Hold your horses, Lori. And would I have the luxury of picking my son up from school every day? No. Could I lay down and take a nap if I had insomnia the night before? No. Let’s face it. We work hard as entrepreneurs, and although we don’t have complete freedom, there are some benefits. Look for the silver lining in your life. Why did you choose to become an entrepreneur in the first place? If you’ve lost that vision, it’s time to revisit it. Remind yourself why you do what you do. What great perks are you getting out of this choice? The blessings are there, I promise.
Are you happy in your entrepreneurial life? If not, why? What’s standing in the way? What do you need to change? Life is too short. Be happy with your choice to be an entrepreneur. Or be happy with your choice to leave that life. Either way, it’s okay. There is no right or wrong. What matters is that you are living a life you love.
Tips to LOVE Your Entrepreneurial Life
February 14, 2018