Being a business owner or entrepreneur can test your resolve to the limit at times. It can be underestimated just how much effort is required to keep things running smoothly from one day to the next. Addressing unpredictable challenges from all directions can leave you feeling worn out and even discouraged on occasion. It’s crucial, therefore, to have a plan to be able to remain strong, resilient, and most importantly, happy.
Here I discuss some strategies, as recommended by fellow entrepreneurs, to ensure that the daily grind does not get you down, and to help you remain upbeat no matter what you are faced with:
1. Be thankful for what you have, and always remind yourself to focus on the amount you’ve achieved. As a successful entrepreneur, co-founder of Fully Accountable and author, I believe “a positive belief about yourself is crucial to long term joy and success. Being grateful for the life you have and the many blessings, opportunities, and talents you possess is an amazing way to open your heart and mind to the truth that you are valuable”.
2. Don’t be envious of others. “I stopped comparing myself to the businesses and people I aspire to resemble,” admits Chris Piper, co-founder of ZoomStand, a retailer of portable standing desks. “I have no idea what their struggles were or what their journey was like. I kept the focus on my growth and that’s it.”
3. Exude a fun and peaceful attitude. Try to always see the lighter side of situations by reminding yourself that people are always going to make mistakes. From my book The Best Investment: A Better You, I state, “failure can be used to shape my career, not define my life.” You can use this ideal not only to help shape your business career but also to shape your relationships and life as a whole.
4. Establish realistic goals. Linda Artz, who runs LAStudio55, a store on eBay, recommends, “At the end of each day, make a list of things you will be working on tomorrow. It feels great to check those things off the list.”
5. Trim your workload. Jessica Greenwalt says, “I only schedule one deliverable per day.” Ms. Greenwalt is the founder of graphic design and web development business, Pixelkeet. “No more trying to complete multiple projects in 24 hours, and no more trying to experience everything that is happening in the city, bouncing from event to event without being fully present at the event I’m currently attending.”
6. Consistently delegate, and as soon as possible, ensuring that you focus on your strengths and you assign your weaknesses to others. “Hire employees who can work without your supervision,” advises Jim Belosic, CEO and founder of ShortStack, a company that assists campaigns and promotions for businesses. Mr. Belosic believes that “there’s no better feeling than knowing you can take a few days or a week off from work and things at the office won’t fall apart.” Furthermore, pay for a regular cleaning service for your house. “Your most valuable resource is time,” states Ruth Frantz, the founder of Henri’s Reserve, a champagne company in Southport, Connecticut. “The minute the house starts looking like a war zone, you feel you have lost control, as does the family. Outsource as much as you can afford.”
7. Ensure record-keeping is kept a simple process. Melissa Viera, a pet trainer from Acushnet, Massachusetts, recommends that you should “take a picture of your receipts,” adding that, “it’s easy to tell yourself you will write down the amount you spent on supplies for the business when you get home that night, but how many times do you forget?”
8. Network with fellow small businesses owners. Jennifer Lohr, an attorney at Lohr Law Office in Madison Wisconsin, believes that meeting others is “a great way to learn through shared experience,” and that they will be a great source of “support you’d normally get from mentors or co-workers at a bigger company.” Such people can also serve as likely providers of valuable advice.
9. Assist someone in overcoming a challenge. Use your unique skill set or expertise to provide guidance and support. Something that one of your colleagues may see as a big challenge could be very simple for you to complete. Help them out in solving the problems that they are facing now, and they will surely do the same for you when they see you struggling down the line. Problem-solving is a much less painful task when there is more than one mind involved.
10. Go off the Grid. Ensure that your phone is switched off for a specific amount of time during the day. If this is not possible then at the very least, turn off all alerts to avoid receiving message notifications. Assign specific times of the day for checking messages and do not deviate from these times.
11. Change your scenery every so often, even if it means having to take your work with you. Whether it’s just a day in the country or a longer vacation, experiencing a different environment can be truly refreshing.
12. Make sure your diary contains activities that make you happy. Nellie Akalp, CEO of CorpNet, a business license and registration service provider in Westlake Village, California, states, “To remain happy as a small business owner, I schedule things that make me happy just as I would a meeting with my sales team or marketing department.” Scheduled activities for Ms. Akalp include “lunch with my husband” and “kickboxing lessons at least three times a week,” plus “ice cream afternoons with my youngest,” all of which give her joy. “It may sound ridiculous to ‘schedule’ these types of things, but I really find that once they are in my calendar I follow through with them every time.”
13. Stay healthy through regular exercise. As Los-Angeles-based Matthew Clough, founder of the online backpack retailer, Stone + Cloth, asserts, time should always be apportioned during the day to “sleep, eat and work out.” If it is proving impossible to squeeze in a gym session during the day, then try a quick yoga routine after waking up, or try to multi-task and incorporate walking into another activity, such as a phone call.
14. Don’t work against your body’s natural inclinations, even if it means regularly taking a day off, or sleeping at odd hours. “One of my saving graces has been to work with my natural circadian rhythm,” says Marie Hale Ramos, the founder of Lipstic Logic, a marketing and sales strategy company in Chicago. There is a lot of value in taking the time to get your full 8 hours of sleep in. Don’t fall victim to the belief that you must pull “all-nighters” to get all of your work done. It is always better to put out quality work rather than rushed, 3 am, caffeine-fuelled garbage.
15. Don’t always take matters too seriously. If a problem or crisis emerges, think about whether it will matter in the future. The likelihood is that it won’t.
16. Follow your instinct. Nicole Zinn, the owner of a bike shop called Rocket Electrics in Austin, Texas, believes that you should “listen politely to all of the wonderful advice that you get but if you still feel strongly about something, act on it.” As your business flourishes, ensure that you remain true to yourself, a trait that is especially valued by Myke Nahorniak, co-founder and CEO of Baltimore tech firm, Localist. Mr. Nahorniak advises to “think of anything that happened that pulled you away from your ‘authentic self’. If you had a meeting and found yourself saying something you didn’t really believe, make a note of it. By being aware of those moments, they’ll naturally happen less, leading to more happiness and confidence in what you’re doing.”
17. Ensure that you are not relying on your business as the sole provider of your happiness. George Schofield, the Sarasota, Florida-based CEO of business consulting firm, The Clarity Group, believes it is important to “have the discipline and planning in place to create other sources of happiness,” observing that “businesses, like spouses, suffer from excessive expectations and demands,” therefore, it is necessary to “give yourself and your business a break.”