You probably started your business because you wanted to make money?
But was that the only reason?
Many of us had other goals as well such as being able to create a lifestyle that allowed us to do something we enjoy.
But the deeper we get into the daily ins and outs of operating a business, we sometimes find ourselves bogged down in tasks that we don’t like doing. There is the accounting and the papers piling up on the desk waiting to be filed. And taking time to learn what we need to know to continue to grow our profits. Some of us even hate picking up that phone and calling people or going to events to network.
The larger our business grows, the more we find ourselves working many more hours than we would in a 9-5 day job.
One day, we look up from the pile of paperwork and realize that “”Hey, this isn’t fun anymore? What happened to the fun and excitement that I had when I started this monster?” Our business, which was going to be the best thing since sliced bread has suddenly become drudgery.
There aren’t many in business who haven’t been there at one time or another.
So what can you do to fix it?
The very first thing is to identify where you got off the track. What went wrong when everything should have been so right?
The first thought you’ll probably have is that “I just need to get organized.”
Although you can probably benefit from filing those loose papers away, for me organizing is just a way of procrastinating. It’s easier to clean the desk and file than it is to do what really needs to be done or to make the decisions that need to be made.
Sometimes life itself gets in the way. You get sick, a family member is ill, or you may even have to take an emergency trip. I remember how I worried about my business when spending over a week in the hospital with pneumonia and even longer recovering. Even in the outside world where you have a 9 to 5 job, life gets in the way. You deal with it the best you can. You have to. You usually have no other choice. So when life steps in and throws you a curve ball, you have no choice but to deal with it and make decisions as to how best to continue your business until things get better.
But many haven’t had these life issues and yet are still feeling overwhelmed.
So what is wrong in our business right now that is making us feel that way and what can we do about it? What happened to make us lose that passion we started with?
When you started your business, you had dreams (and hopefully a plan) as to where your business would lead you. You could picture what your ideal life would look like and what you would call success.
Perhaps it is time to sit down and imagine those dreams again. What part of your business is interfering with the lifestyle that you want for yourself?
Sit down, relax, and think about it. What do you still enjoy about your business? What do you not enjoy? How are you spending your time? Do I still have goals that I’m working towards or have you stopped setting them?
And then think about what you can do to recover the dream and make it fun again.
If your feelings of being overwhelmed are the result of not enough hours in the day, find yourself a notebook or open a page on your computer and record how you are spending your time during the next week. How much of what you are doing is boring nitty-gritty details and how much is really working towards your goals? What bad habits have you developed along the way? Do you make time in your schedule for unexpected events and emergencies? You should because they do happen.
My work day is determined first by what has to be done and then leaving lots of breathing room for what develops. And I tend to try to do those things that have to be done first.
For example, this weekend was Mother’s Day, my grandson’s graduation, and my grand daughter’s birthday. I knew I wasn’t about to miss celebrating any of them! The family made plans to celebrate all three on Saturday which meant that I wouldn’t be doing any deliveries on that day. My plan was to fill all the Mother’s Day orders as they came in, shipping those that needed to be shipped and delivering the local ones on Friday and Sunday.
That worked great until Tuesday morning when I opened my email orders and found an order for 170 apartment gifts. This would have been overwhelming in the earlier years of my business but I had learned to leave room for the unexpected. And it worked. They were all shipped on Thursday.
Another example, is our magazine. Once an issue of the magazine has been sent out to all the subscribers, I have a little less than two months to finish up the next one. I figure out what has to be done to get it ready and work towards that goal while working on the many other things that I do.
Everything doesn’t always go as planned. Someone, who promised me an article, doesn’t get it in. There aren’t enough design photos to create the balance that I want to achieve between design and business strategies. An ad, that was promised, doesn’t come in or comes in the week before the magazine has to be sent out. Or one of my proofreaders is out of town and can’t proof a particular issue.
All of these things have happened at one time or another. I don’t panic. I don’t become frustrated. Why? Because I have planned for the possibility that they may happen and I know what I can and need to do.
I have no intention of letting the production of a magazine, the development of a new product, or an unexpected large gift order get in the way of the lifestyle that I have created for myself.
While you have long-term goals, and it may take years to achieve your ideal lifestyle and see the level of success you’re after, you have to stay grounded in the short term goals and the consistent daily tasks in order to make it happen.
Planning for what has to be done this week is the key to getting there.
Life is short and you never know how long it will be. And it flys by one day at a time. So create a plan that works for you but also remember that the end result is not what it is really all about. It’s about enjoying life along the way to that end result.
So think about why you started your business and what you love about it as well as what has happened to kill the fun. Do whatever housekeeping you need to do to get back on the right track. You may not make as much money right now as you had hoped but business should not be all about money.
2 thoughts on “Is Your Business Still Fun?”
Thanks for your comments, Diane. I’m glad this was a reminder to you. All of us get into a rut and forget why we started our business at some time or another. It’s always good to step back and look at why we began with fresh eyes. This is one reason for the question that so many of our readers answered “It All Began When . . .” in the May/June issue of our magazine, GiftRetailersConnection.
Joyce, did you write on this topic with me in mind??? Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I couldn’t agree more that our business should be fun, but hey at times it isn’t and at times I find it very stressful, like pre-Christmas. Each year the customers have ordered later and later, even though I’ve offered them incentives to place their orders earlier. So I have to leave ordering my stock until the last minute, which incidentally many of the suppliers are now saying that others are also doing, and this does make it more of a challenge, but I find that I don’t end up with a pile of stock that I haven’t moved.
I think getting back to setting goals and looking at why we started in our business is really important, and I haven’t done this seriously for a few years now, so thank you Joyce for reminding me to do this. I will put some time aside today to do this and slot in some regular time to re-assess where I am at with my business.
I discovered this year that without the right sort of planning our business can be very challenging as I had to have shoulder surgery for 2 tears in my ligaments from nearly dropping a large fathers day basket back in September last year (I was determined not to drop it, hence the injury). I thought that I had in place an insurance policy that would help me in my business, especially after the surgery. I discovered that it had a 13 week stand down policy, yes you guessed it, I went into hospital Friday and was back in my office Monday, feeling like death warmed up, but I had orders coming in and the lady I had been training up to help me had her own challenges with her husband being diagnosed with bowel cancer just that week. I had to call on my sister who had never packed any of my baskets, so it was a fast learning curve. We muddled our way through and got there, but has been a huge lesson to me to get things sorted behind the scenes. I didn’t have a large stash of cash to be able to just grab anyone to help me out and it was very stressful. Had I done more planning in advance it would’ve been better, but having never had any sort of operation like this, I had no idea what to expect. I’m half way through my recovery and it’s going well.
By the way I loved doing our Mother’s day gifts and delivering them to our lovely customer’s Mum’s, it was fun. Thank you Joyce for reminding us of why we are in business and to keep fun at the for-front of what we do, after all it is a ‘feel-good’ business that we operate, and if we don’t feel good about what we do, then who else can!!