People start businesses for many reasons, but my reason seems a little ridiculous in hindsight. I was bored. Unlike entrepreneurs with a driving passion to change the world, I wanted to see if I could make my day-to-day life more interesting. Granted, it’s probably not the best reason to turn one’s life upside down, but it’s worked out for me over the last 7.5 years.
That said, during the last few weeks and months, I’ve noticed days where I’m starting to feel like I did at my last paycheck job. However, there’s one big difference: I’m running the show and the burden rests on me to fix it. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what emotion I’m feeling about my work. Whether it’s boredom, frustration or even anger, my choice to build a business means I hold the solution to resolving these issues.
For instance, when I talk to fellow entrepreneurs, it’s not unusual to compare war stories. This client was a nightmare to work with. That project seemed like it would never end. Whatever the aggravation, the underlying fact remains the same. Even though it may not feel like it, we do have control of these situations.
I had my epiphany last week after sharing some client aggravation with a friend. We commiserated, but the next morning, it hit me. Yes, the client is the client. However, I can choose whether to keep working with a client or end the relationship. It may require finding new clients to replace the old, but it’s within my power to change the status quo if I don’t like it.
On the surface, I know this sounds overly simplistic, and on one level, it is – yet I continue to hear the stories about difficult clients and bad projects. It’s easier than you might think to get sucked into the cycle of accepting that we can’t change our situation. If this sounds familiar, then like me, it’s time to for you to hit the refresh button.
With this goal in mind, I’ve created a plan to help me break the cycle that can help you, too.
1. Identify the things I like least about my business.
It may be actual projects and clients, or it may be day-to-day things like bookkeeping. The goal is to honestly assess what’s not working for me. Nothing is off limits, including myself and my behavior.
2. Prioritize the list of least-liked things and weigh potential solutions.
It’s not realistic to chuck everything I dislike all at once. I’ll organize the list based on two factors: my level of dislike and potential solutions. The last thing I want to do is stop something only to discover after the fact that it created an even bigger problem.
3. Identify the things I like most about my business.
It’s not just about figuring out the bad, but also about understanding what makes me happiest. What tasks do I find easiest to do or look forward to the most? What kind of projects and clients get me excited? What can I do to make more of these good things happen?
I’ve started work on steps one and two, and I’m already surprised at the impact it’s had on my outlook. Yes, being an entrepreneur requires dealing with a long list of things we don’t like. But I don’t believe even the most pessimistic of entrepreneurs will argue that every day has to be a battle.
This refresh plan provides some breathing room to figure out what’s working, and permission to walk away from what’s not. After all, even if you didn’t start your business out of boredom, you had other important reasons for becoming an entrepreneur. Use this process to remind yourself of those reasons and to figure out what you need to do to grow your business in the future.