Underlying all the factors that can determine the success or failure of your business, there is passion. If you find yourself missing this key ingredient, then running your business can become an unbearable burden. What should you do about it?
Last week I wrote a guest post over at Bloggertone in which I explained that small business owners should be aware that they are a representation of their company (whether they realize it or not) and that their attitude and behavior can easily rub off on their key stakeholders- their investors, customers, employees, and business partners.
In response, one reader made the following comment:
...many SBOs just 'end up' doing what they do (rather than being driven to it by their own entrepreneurial ambitions)...
This is an important observation, and it is a catalyst for many a small business failure.
Many new small business owners are enthusiastic at the beginning. They start their journey into the world of business full of hope and all sorts of expectations. But then it quickly fades. When this happens your small business can feel more like a prison rather than an expression of your experience and skills or as a satisfying way to earn an income.
Running your own small business is very different from working for someone else. When you are employed by another it is often easier to stick it out even if you are not in love with the job. Why? Because you're not as invested; at the end of the day, it's not your company. It's easier to just walk away from it- whether literally by looking for work elsewhere or figuratively, by mentally disconnecting the minute your work day (or work week) has ended.
But when you are running your own business (especially if you are running it alone or have only a few employees), then there's nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. You are the business.
Running a business and doing it successfully takes a lot of work. Often, there are many setbacks along the way. There are ups and downs- days when it feels like things are moving, and days when it feels like you are stuck in the deepest of ruts. Throughout it all, if you do not enjoy what you are doing or if you are not fundamentally driven by some aspect of running your own business, then there will be no motivation to push through the trials and tribulations along the way.
Moreover, as I mentioned in my guest post, this lack of enthusiasm can also influence the attitudes and perceptions of those you work with and for, leading to a downward, destructive spiral of apathy and eventually negativity. On the other hand, those who are enthusiastic about their products and services and who truly believe in the value of what they are offering, are much more likely to attract loyal customers, dedicated employees, and investors who share their vision.
So what can you do if the fire for your business has gone out? Here are some points to consider as well as a few tips to get yourself re-focused:
1. Identify why you started the business in the first place. I mentioned in my previous post that one of the fundamental causes for small business failure is that the owners go in with unrealistic expectations regarding the amount of time and work required to start and run a successful company as well as the potential income that awaits them. Where this is the case, burnout, apathy, and/or disillusionment often come quickly.
You then have two main options: either re-adjust your expectations and goals or stop running the business altogether. You may have another option as well, and that is in some cases you may be able to turn the business into a side project or hobby instead of making it your main source of income.
Another point: if you don't enjoy the line of work that you are in, then that can also be a big problem even if your expectations about running a business are realistic. Unless you are very successful, chances are you won't last long as a small business owner.
2. If your passions are in the right place, then determine the cause of your apathy or burnout. Sometimes all that is needed is some time off or a change of scenery. Sometimes, it's your actual work location (especially if you work from a home office) that can be the problem. It could also be that you are taking on too much and need to bring in others to help you carry the load. Whatever the case, if you are suddenly experiencing a significant drop in enthusiasm, then you owe it to yourself and your business to find out where it is coming from.
3. Turning to others for inspiration and support can help you out of the occasional slump... But, if you find yourself constantly seeking out others for a boost, it may mean you are looking for a temporary fix to much more fundamental problems.
In short, as a small business owner, your passion and enthusiasm for both your company and your role within it can be the driving force that will help you to navigate the bumps along the way. Without this motivation, you will be running your business with a big handicap.