Have you ever woken up and groaned or sighed that you had to go to work today? For many people, this happens frequently. As a small business owner you may have bought into the myth that as the owner of your own business you would never have to deal with this feeling ever again. And for some small business owners I know it’s their own dirty little secret that some days they just don’t feel passionate about what they do.
Let’s take the secret out of the closet and look at it closer. There is no shame in not feeling passionate about what you do every second of every day. Small business owners are human, we are not perfect and our passions wax and wane at times.
Recently, one brave small business owner asked me, “How do you stay passionate over time?” An excellent question!
Before I answer that question, let’s first look at some of the main reasons why small business owners run out of passion.
- Overwork / tiredness
- Getting caught up in the minutiae
- Losing perspective
- Worry - frequently over money
Overwork: I’ve yet to meet a small business owner who didn’t secretly believe that they have a big red ‘S’ on their chest…they are Super Business Person! They can leap tall buildings, fly across the sky, and accomplish amazing feats. As a result, they chase after many projects and ideas at the same time, overextend themselves, and become an extension of their ever present i-phone. In short, they work around the clock, have too many priorities, and have no set limits between work and everything else. Over time they become mentally and physically tired, overwhelmed by all the balls in the air, and if they have a weak constitution they fall ill.
Getting Caught up in the Minutiae: When you first started your business I’m sure that you envisioned yourself being brilliant at interacting with customers and clients and providing products and services that you loved working with. You saw yourself fulfilling your passion every day. What you didn’t see yourself doing was paying the bills, emptying the trash, following up on supply orders, and figuring out why your computer likes to shut down automatically every time you type the letter ‘s’. Because these little things can be distracting, and at times truly disabling, they can threaten to consume the majority of our time and suck the passion out of business.
Losing Perspective: Over time you may get so involved in the day-to-day responsibilities of fulfilling orders and finding new orders to fulfill that you forget why you started the business in the first place. You lose perspective and fail to see the big picture – the vision of what you wanted to achieve by becoming a small business owner. As a result, work becomes a never ending series of small things that have to be completed rather than a part of a bigger passion that you are creating.
Worry: As the daughter of small business owners, my goal in going to college was to get a job that would provide me with a reliable weekly paycheck and health insurance. I had watched my parents worry about employee issues, theft and vandalism, and always over money. When it was coming in, would it last? When it wasn’t coming in quickly, where would they find enough to keep things going? Worry will quickly sap your energy and your passion for the bigger picture and can make a regular, reliable paycheck look good.
Boredom: You may not have expected to see this one on the list. After you have owned your business for many years, you may become quite good at what you do. You will have some great processes in place that make running your business efficient, pleasant, and boring. Yes boring. Now before you go breaking things to get them exciting again, let’s look at some of the solutions for putting passion back in to your day.
Here are five tips for maintaining the passion in your small business:
- Come to a full stop
- Outsource / delegate
- Meet with someone positive who ignites you with the sea of possibility
Come to a Full Stop: Build times into your life when you come to a full stop. (See my blog ‘It’s Your Choice’ (link http://redknightconsulting.com/story-its-your-choice) for more information on coming to a full stop.) A full stop may be as big as taking a vacation and turning off your smart phone or as little as having tea with your best friend (and again turning off your smart phone.) A full stop may also be taking the time to work on your business – things like strategic planning, visioning the future, and taking a big picture moment.
Focus: Focus involves ignoring all of the minutiae, all the distractions, all the email dinging and working on something that is important to you. Schedule an hour a day or an hour a week to just focus. The amount of time is less important than that you actually honor the time and focus on something that matters and excites you. Don’t let anyone into your time and space, just focus.
Outsource / Delegate: There are many tasks in running a small business that are mundane, boring, or that we just don’t like to do. As your business grows, it’s important to figure out which tasks can efficiently and effectively be delegated or outsourced to someone else. This leaves you with more time to concentrate and focus on projects and ideas that create passion.
Meet with Someone Positive: Recently I met with a woman whom I am mentoring. We were getting together to talk about what has been going on and how she has been progressing in getting her speaking business going. By the time we parted 90 minutes later, I had found new energy and passion for what I do simply because she was so positive about her business and what I provide to others like her. When planning the meeting, the person you meet does not need to be a client or customer. It could be your best friend, your Mom, or your brother. What matters is that they are a positive person who sees in you the seas of possibility…and are able to enthusiastically share that vision with you.
Expand: If you have lost your passion because you are bored with what you do because you’ve done it for so long and you now do it extremely well, think about expanding. There is a reason the phrase serial entrepreneur exists. Some people are excited about the challenges of starting up a business and quickly become bored once it’s launched and running smoothly. For them, it may be time to find a new venture. Other people don’t need to start over. For them, it may be enough to simply expand their business with a new product or service or to reach out to a new target market.
I believe that the majority of small business owners start their business because of a passion for bringing to life a vision of something better. The vision may have included a product or service or both. And we lose that passion when we lose sight of the vision. It’s a great deal of fun being a small business owner – and a great deal of work also. The work side is more fun and passes by more quickly when we maintain our passion. So if your passion is waning, or worse has been gone for a while, choose one of these five ways to reignite your passion today.