Running a business is a bit like being in a relationship. At the start, everything is new, exciting; you want to spend as much time with each other as you can, get to know one another better, and no effort is too big or too challenging for you. However, as time moves on, you adapt and get used to one another. You reach a certain point where things are no longer new, no longer exciting, and no longer giving you butterflies. The inexperienced and the afraid choose this point to exit: after all, no butterflies must mean the love is gone, right?
The same things can happen with your small business – you get used to the daily ins and outs, you get accustomed to the challenges so much so that they turn into routine, and you are no longer excited about coming to work. If that is the case in your relationship with your small business, fret not. First of all, it’s completely normal. That’s just the way our minds work – when they get used to something, they no longer feel the excitement. But you can shift back into high gear and get things tingling again. Here’s how.
Take a look at your roadmap
One of the first things you will need when starting a business is a plan – iIf not a plan, then at least a goal in mind. If you have set one for yourself way back when, then this might be a good time to dust it off and see what you have accomplished. If not, this is the ideal time to set a goal (or a set of goals) and figure out a way of tracking your progress with all of them.
Sometimes it’s easier to set a goal when you already have some experience and a steady customer base behind you, than to do so at the very outset. So, take the lull in enthusiasm as a chance to reevaluate and set yourself new goals for the coming period.
Don’t be afraid of change
While extremely motivating and comforting to some, habits can be very dull for others, so changing things every once in a while can be just what your business needs. If you have been doing things a certain way for a longer period of time, now might be your chance to switch things up. This can mean anything from starting a new service, testing out a new product, or simply changing some of your set processes.
Make sure you don’t try to change too much at the same time – start small and see how it goes. Don’t get stuck thinking that you have to do things a certain way, just because you have been doing them that way so far, or because that’s how others do it. Comfort is the enemy of progress, or so the saying goes. Leaving your zone of comfort can do you a lot of good if you just choose to overcome the initial unpleasantness.
Tap into extra funding
More often than not, a lack of funds is the main challenge keeping entrepreneurs from taking their business to the next level. If that is the case with you, perhaps you should devote a couple of months to sourcing that extra capital and ensuring that it is invested in the best possible avenues. Luckily, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of funding options available to small businesses, from venture capital to crowdfunding. You can also access expansion capital for that much-needed cash injection.
Make sure you have a clear idea of where you want to take your business. This will not only make sourcing the money easier, but it will also be easier to invest it properly. Take a good look at your current cash flow, overdraft, expenses, and outstanding incomes, and put every important figure down on the same sheet of paper. That way, you will have the clearest view of the state of your finances and know exactly how much more you need to raise.
Surround yourself with the right people
Fresh blood is often a great way to get your business out of a rut. This can mean hiring someone new to one of your teams, creating an entirely new team, or finding someone to complement your strengths and weaknesses as a business owner. However, you may not even need to hire someone to benefit from a fresh perspective. Try attending industry conferences and seminars, where you’ll be able to meet like-minded people. Connect with other SMB owners and entrepreneurs (online or in person) to gain insight into the way they run things and what some of their challenges are.
You can also try to find a mentor – someone who can help you get out of neutral and shift back into high gear. But as mentors often demand hefty paychecks, sometimes networking can be enough to reignite your passion for the business and get the ball rolling.
Check on your customer base
The best business ideas often come from the people you are trying to serve: your customers and leads. Business owners tend to focus on the business – which is only natural, as that is what you are trying to build – and much less on the customer. Shifting that perspective, and focusing on them rather than on yourself and the company, can be an amazing way to gain some insight and a brand new mission.
Reexamine what your customers think about your business, what they are coming to you for, and what other services or products they might need that you do not offer. Work on your customer service, and focus on retaining existing customers, as opposed to gaining new ones. Ask them for their opinion: what do they like about your product or service, what would they like to change and how, what would they do differently, how can you tailor your offer to them specifically, and so on. All of this insight can be used both for sales and marketing purposes, helping you drive the direction of your company for the foreseeable future.
Being stuck in a bit of a business rut is nothing unusual, and it’s certainly not a sign to start panicking. In fact, it can be taken as an opportunity to take a deep breath, look around and reevaluate, and refuel yourself with that initial passion you had when starting out. After all, any relationship demands investment and involvement, and you can’t just expect them to keep working and stay the same all the time. It’s up to you to do your best, and see how well that serves you.
Natasha is a lady of a keyboard whose fields of expertise could be summed up in digital marketing, branding, and growth-hacking related topics. She is always happy to collaborate with awesome blogs by sharing her knowledge. These days Natasha is all about helping businesses to grow smoothly and strong. To see what she is up to next, check her out on Twitter.