When you’re in business for yourself, it’s your job to make sure your business is successful. But there are also a lot of unknowns. How do you guarantee success in business? Follow these simple guidelines and you’re well on your way.
1. Make a plan
Take some time to really define your big-picture vision. What do you want from your business? What sort of lifestyle are you looking for? Why are you in business for yourself to begin with?
Once you’ve looked at the big picture, you can set some concrete goals. Maybe you want to increase your income so you can leave your part-time job. Or maybe you have a book that you’re itching to write. Or maybe you have an established business that you want to take to the next level.
Whatever those goals are, write them down, and put them somewhere where you will see them every day. Then take each goal and break it down into smaller steps.
Know what you’ll be working on before you sit down to work. At the end of your day, clean up your workspace so you have a fresh start in the morning, and make a list of your three most important tasks (MITs) for the next day. You’ll start your day with clear direction, which will make it easier to focus.
2. Be consistent
The best thing you can do to make progress on your goals is to show up every single day and do the work.
If you don’t have a daily routine, create one – and give it a few weeks to stick. For example, your morning might include coffee/tea, meditation, exercise, time outdoors, creative time for writing or art, planning, etc. Your morning sets the tone for the rest of your day, so show up with intention and focus.
There is no right or wrong here – it’s all about what works best with your energy cycles and your other responsibilities. If you have young children, chances are you’ll need to help them get off to school. So maybe your new routine means getting up a bit earlier than usual to fit in some writing time before the kids get up.
The key here is to craft a daily routine that gives you structure in your day as well as space for self-care and reflection. Some people like to start their day with meditation, while others like to exercise first thing, and others prefer to do some work over coffee, and then take a break later in the morning for a yoga class.
Once you’ve created your new routine, try it out for at least two weeks, preferably 3, then check in with yourself and see how you feel. Are you more productive? Less stressed? Do you need to shift things around a bit? Trust whatever comes up. Be honest with yourself, and make adjustments where needed.
Showing up every day is the key to turning dreams into reality.
3. Ask for help
Believe it or not, We can’t do everything alone. Regardless of whether you’re introverted or extroverted, as humans we’re wired for connection. And though our families and friends want to be supportive, they usually don’t quite “get it”. When you connect with other entrepreneurs who truly understand what you’re going through, you can get valuable feedback on what you’re working on, brainstorm solutions to problems, vent when you’re having a bad day, and you have someone to celebrate your successes with. It’s a different kind of family.
When you have that community, you can hold each other up and hold each other accountable. Accountability partners remind us what we said we’d do, nudge us out of our comfort zone and hold our hand through the rough patches. Even just knowing that someone else is holding space for you is often enough to keep you moving forward.
I also believe that everyone should have a mentor – someone who has already worked through the challenges we’re facing, and can guide us. It shortens the learning curve and gives us that support that everyone needs on some level.
4. Put yourself first
You’re no good to anyone if you’re overwhelmed, exhausted and burnt out. What lights you up and restores you? Is it time alone? A good book or movie? Time outdoors? Exercise? Time with friends? Whatever it is, make it a priority.
For example, I have found over the years that I crave being outdoors, and I need frequent blocks of quiet and solitude. When I don’t honor that, the result is intense headaches and a very short attention span. So my routine includes quiet time in the morning, some form of exercise, and outdoor time – even if it’s just for a few minutes.
5. Trust your gut
You are the expert in your own life. You are uniquely qualified to craft a plan for a business that supports you emotionally AND financially, on your terms.
The people we choose to have in our “circle of trust” give us honest feedback and guidance, but they don’t make our decisions for us. You are 100% in control. When you are given advice, you can choose to implement it or not.
It’s so easy to get distracted and confused by the wealth of information and advice available to us online. When you start to get overwhelmed, get quiet with yourself and listen to what your gut is telling you. Then trust it, because it will never steer you wrong.