Regardless of what’s happening outside of their enterprises – with the economy, other businesses, or other people – self-employed entrepreneurs and small-enterprise owners must ensure their own vision and clarity, and navigate the common challenges, the ups and downs, that come with entrepreneurship. The excitement and creativity of challenge, and the satisfaction that comes with persevering through challenge, is one of the reasons that most of these entrepreneurs opt for, and ultimately prefer, owning their own enterprise.
The experience can also seem somewhat isolating and even overwhelming at times, so it helps to shore up the toolbox with helpful planning, guidance, and resources. Though there are no doubt additional tips that would come in handy, here are several survive-and-thrive tips for these big-vision enterprise-creators:
Know what you’re doing, and why.
Seems obvious, doesn’t it? And yet it’s also one “obvious rule” that’s often neglected. Why? Entrepreneurs and enterprise-owners get into their ruts and routines, just like everyone else. Unfortunately, old ruts and routines can become like old shoes that perhaps never fit all that well and need to be replaced. Take time at least once a year for a major bird’s eye view of your enterprise, and then do check-in’s at least once a quarter to integrate new learnings and circumstances and gauge whether you’re still on track with an authentic, meaningful vision.
Strengthen and master your mindset.
Mindset-management skillfulness can and does benefit anyone who takes the time for it. For an enterprise owner, the stresses can seem greater than someone else’s, if only because a business owner is responsible for all facets of his or her enterprise – not just one particular part of it, like marketing or accounting. Mindset management practices can help create a valuable “stress buffer” and increase the likelihood of good decision-making, more positive relationships, better communication, skillful authenticity, and a greater capacity to gracefully navigate the inevitable challenges.
Learn to see possibility and meaning.
Yes, the results are coming in. Optimistic thinking and learning to find meaning in both peaks and challenges improves not only your experience of your life but your health as well. What’s more, credible data is increasingly showing what mystics have known for ages – that your thinking is magnetic, which means that your situation reflects your thinking (and perhaps vice versa). Optimistic thinking isn’t the natural path for many people, particularly those whose gifts are more critical-thinking or who are undergoing challenges without having expanded their “stress buffer.” Self-employed individuals benefit from being able to see the possibilities and find meaning in everything from self-employment itself to the myriad of individual experiences and challenges it brings.
Take charge of your cash flow.
Money and financial management continue to be one of those “prickly” issues that more than a few people would prefer to avoid altogether, and a good number of the others, while not avoiding financial issues, have potentially limiting beliefs around money. During the course of any business, there will be “flush times” when the money seems to be rolling in, and “drought times” when it seems that nothing you do gets enough money coming in. So it makes sense to do a “belief check” regarding money and prosperity, to identify limited beliefs that affect your everyday thinking and decision-making (or decision-avoidance). Then, on a practical basis, you can ensure that you have a good certified public accountant to advise you, and whatever financial services and products help you navigate the peaks, gullies, and crevices of your business, while helping you make progress towards (and live, in the meanwhile) according to your ideal lifestyle.
Build a network of guides and peers.
No man (or woman) is an island, and yet quite a few self-employed people feel isolated from time to time. Some entrepreneurs feel isolated more frequently. The great news is that there are steps you can take to lessen such isolation and create a supportive community with kindred spirits, from scheduling coffee or lunch with others with whom you have things in common (similar business situations, other interests), to cyber-networking by email with peers who may not live in your region. Yes, it’s true that some people can feel threatened and tend to hoard information and support, but this isn’t true of everyone. Many entrepreneurs persevere and develop friendships with other self-employed people, as well as joining professional organizations and having an informal board of advisors to whom they can turn for more specific guidance throughout the year. There is no one “right answer”; create the type of support network that works best for you.
Overcome your “issues” with sales and marketing.
Just like the “money issue” – or perhaps because it is so related to money and other issues, like the fear of rejection – more than a few solopreneurs and other business owners have limiting beliefs regarding marketing and sales. These beliefs affect their ability to create and evolve a business that gives them joy, challenge, and satisfaction, so it makes sense to bring them out of the closet and into the light for some freshening up. There are other issues that make marketing and sales difficult for some small-business owners, too, including a lack of clarity about what their business is about and what they offer, and a belief that there is only one “right way” to successfully market or sell. Yes, there are tried-and-true sales and marketing tactics, but all can be tailored to suit your individual personality, talents, growth interests, and business.
Refine your communication skills.
Some wise fellow once said that if we knew how often we misunderstood others, and how often others misunderstood us, we’d be hesitant to speak at all. Just about everything we do – marketing, visioning, sales, consulting, customer service, management – involves communication. Whether we do those things well, or not, depends on how well we communicate. The unfortunate aspect of this is that most people think they’re excellent communicators – just take a look at most resumes, which highlight the individual’s ability to communicate very well with others. Most surveys, on the other hand, show that good communicators are at a premium, which means that most people have mediocre – or worse – communication skillfulness. More good news, though: You can actually take charge of this area, and improve your communication skillfulness. Listening well, speaking clearly, ensuring good intentions, not assuming, asking good questions – all are elements of effective, skillful communication, and all can easily be learned and practiced.
Take care of yourself.
One straight-to-the-point saying reminds us that we get out of something what we put into it – garbage in, garbage out. Why then, do so many people neglect their own development, and their mental, spiritual, and/or physical wellness? Some people actually seem embarrassed to be taking care of themselves, like it’s some selfish luxury. Of course, we all need to be mindful that our self-development and care doesn’t become narcissistic. But if we’re not well, if we’re not relaxed and centered, if we don’t take the time to keep up on our learning and skill growth, then we’re not as able to take care of or be of service to others. So it makes sense to have a spiritual or philosophical practice, to get good nutrition, to drink enough water, to get enough exercise of a type we enjoy, and to take time away from our work to relax and allow some space for new ideas, new momentum, and new possibilities to emerge.
This article was originally featured at Ivy Sea Online and is reprinted with permission.
© 2004 – 2014, Jamie Walters. All rights reserved.