Are you striving for the impossible?

It can be incredibly hard as a business owner to resist the urge to compare yourself to other 'more successful' businesses and their owners. You know, the ones who holiday in the Maldives every year and have the latest everything! Why do they have it all and you don't?

This week I spoke to a lady who was struggling to find her motivation. She was feeling demoralised because, having taken the leap from employment to self-employment, felt she was failing. She didn't have enough clients, she was juggling setting up her business with homeschooling and didn't feel she was 'trying' hard enough or putting in enough hours. In fact, she was considering paying somebody else to do work despite having only built up a small income so far. She was setting herself targets that were similar to those her old team of six were trying to achieve. She was striving for something that was not yet possible.

I worked with another business owner who was in a state of panic, he felt the financial burden of starting a new business and believed that only by working harder, longer and more, could he reach the earnings that he had previously been used to. He hadn't considered the costs associated with running a business; insurance, tech, advertising etc. All these had been previously paid by his employer, leaving him free to sell and earn his commission with a team of administrators behind him to cover all the paperwork and invoicing. He was trying to achieve the levels of business and earnings on his own that a team was used to delivering.

So if you are finding it hard to adjust, how do you set goals that are realistic and achievable yet challenging enough to help you grow and progress? Getting the balance right is not easy.

2020 has been a year where, perhaps for the first time, we are happy to admit to being overwhelmed, to be struggling, and most importantly to ask for help. OK maybe happy is too strong, but we are at least willing to admit these things.

My advice is simple - don't compare yourself to others and don't beat yourself up. Some can turn this self-imposed pressure into positive action, but a lot of us (yes me too!) struggle and can become even more demotivated. For me, To-Do lists help me decide what is achievable and sensible to do. I do put the other stuff on there too - the BIG stuff, but if it is there a week later it is clearly too BIG for me to do at that point in time, so I put it to one side and revisit later when I feel more able. This isn't to say that anyone should walk away, and we need to accept there are things that must be done. But be realistic. Be kind to yourself and decide what is critical and what can wait.

The most valuable business tool is a business plan, this should include ALL these grand plans and targets but, if put together properly, will help you tackle them in a positive manner when they are most needed. If you need help ironing out the details and finding a way to focus on what needs doing both for you and your business, talk to someone outside your business, as clarity and detachment can be key to seeing the bigger picture.

Remember as the world changes it is OK to change your plans too. In fact, it is an essential business skill.

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