Ever feel like you’re in a rut. Or worse, that you keep pushing that boulder up the hill, all Sisyphus like, only to watch it roll back down, feeling that you are destined to repeat this throughout eternity.
David Ensor via Flickr
Okay, citing Greek and Roman mythology may be a bit dramatic, but I see it every day and work with small business owners every day that tell me they desperately want to take their business to the next level, but can’t seem to get unstuck.
In working through this same phenomenon in my own business I offer these seven reasons why we struggle to move past where we are and hopefully some advice on breaking free.
You don’t have a compelling enough vision
The thing that moves people to act beyond what they are currently doing is a vision to do something so compelling that it forces them to change their behaviors in ways that would make it so.
The problem with most business owners is that they are only looking towards next week or next month. What if you looked at making your business and your life multiple times bigger and better than it is right now?
What would that force you to change? What would that force you to stop doing? Where would that compel you to take massive action first?
Your habits aren’t serving you
The fact is that most humans are simply the sum of their habits, good and bad. In order to create change, you don’t need to work harder or try to be more productive; you simply need to replace some of your habits with ones that better serve your vision.
That may mean adding exercise to your daily routine, learning how to say no once in a while, creating workflow that doesn’t include so much time checking email and conversing on Facebook. Maybe you need to start reading and writing. Maybe you need to learn programming or how to present to a large group of prospects from a stage.
Pick one habit that you know isn’t serving your vision and replace it with one that your know will move your forward and commit to practicing that new habit for at least a month. Then, do it again every month for the next twelve and you’ll transform your life.
Your relationships are Twitter thin
The age of friend, follow and fan has changed the dynamics of relationships. I’m not saying those tools are bad things, they have lots to offer, but I am saying it’s easy to sit back and conclude that since you’re chatting with someone on Twitter that you’re building the kinds of relationships you need in order to take your business to higher levels.
We can only manage so many relationships with any amount of depth. That number may vary from person to person to person, but I guarantee you it’s not 500 or 1000.
Pick three people this year that you believe could help you drastically improve your business and your life and focus on building a deep relationship with them. Here’s the catch however, do it by focusing all your attention on how you can help them.
You’re not focused on value
What if the stuff you gave away as part of your marketing was better than most people’s paid product or service? What if you spent as much time measuring the results your clients received as you did on trying to sell more stuff?
Your clients don’t really want your stuff; they want what they or you have convinced them they will get from your stuff. Simply look for ways to be a greater opportunity for them to get what they want and you’ll represent value in the best sense.
You’re worried about your weaknesses
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this phrase – I’m just no good at marketing – then of course it’s followed with, but I love to talk to people and help them get what they need, which of course may be one of the tidier explanations of what marketing really is.
Stop trying to get good at your weaknesses or shoring up areas that everyone says you need to get good at and start mastering the things you do really well, the things that bring you joy, the things that create value for you and for others and growth will flourish.
You’re filling your time
Ever feel like no matter how many hours there were in a day it wouldn’t be enough? Ever come to the end of a day and think, I don’t know what I did today, but I sure was busy?
The plague of work is that we are so completely capable of expanding it to fill whatever time we have available, whether that work is productive or not.
One of the things I truly believe you must embrace in order to take your business to the next level is to plan your time off first. I don’t mean vacation plans, I mean make a part of your compelling vision for the future the precise amount of time you will take to work on your vision and recharge your energy.
What if you planned backwards? What if, instead of taking a little time here and there when it occurred, you did something bold like decided to take every Friday away from the business or an entire week every quarter as a planned renewal period?
Now, you may not see how you could do that at this point, but unless you start to think bigger in this way, you’ll never get above where you are right now.
You’re managing the wrong things
Business is lot like soup. From the diner’s perspective it’s simply good or bad tasting. From the cook’s perspective it’s the precise compilation of broth, vegetables and seasoning that make it good or bad tasting.
I think we often approach our business more like the diner than the cook; we manage the soup rather than combination of the proper ingredients.
I’ve written about the three things we must manage before, but I believe one of the things that holds businesses back is a failure to view their business as a precise blend of purpose, projects and process – maintaining a focus on managing those three things at all times is how you take your business towards your vision.