How to keep the faith when it seems your business is failing
When you’ve put a lot of time and money into our business and having to go months living frugally and being stressed about how you’re going to get through the next month because your business isn’t doing as well as you hoped it would, it can be so, so easy to get discouraged and throw in the towel.
I’ve been there; the niggling doubt, the I-should-haves and what-ifs fill your mind and may even keep you up at night (or watching copious episodes of Game of Thrones instead of writing content for your blog) and the frustration can get so overwhelming but because you see everyone around you doing well and it’s so easy to feel alone and like no one understands because no one seems to be going through the same thing as you do. It happens more often than you realise and I’ll bet it may have happened to the entrepreneurs you look up. Sure, people will tell you “don’t give up.” But how, really, do you do that?
1. Study your business model.
See where you are lacking the most. Perhaps you don’t have enough engagement with your brand and/or blog. This is where you develop a social media strategy and invest time into your social media. Follow people, tweet them, participate in twitter chats or join Facebook groups.
Put yourself out there; engage first so in return, people may engage with you. Plenty of the entrepreneurs I follow share other people’s blog posts and in turn, they get theirs shared too. It’s a good thing and may even help you build up your own little community.
2. Change things up.
Do not be afraid for change, in fact, changing things up may be the one thing that propels your business forward. See it as reinvention. If you have been trying the same ol’ things and none of them have been working out, then it may just be time to try something new.
If you have been advertising on Facebook and have gotten nothing yet, try Pinterest and heck, you can even try old school advertising by handing out fliers at your local Laundromat. Who knows? Just try different things and sooner or later, you’ll find out what works for you and your business.
3. Make a list of your achievements thus far, no matter how little.
See, it’s rather easy to believe we haven’t achieved anything when we see that our business isn’t pulling in clients. But in reality, you will find that you have achieved a lot. Perhaps you’ve made friends in the same niche as you or perhaps you’ve gotten much more confident in speaking live on video (hello Periscope and free video courses!)
All of those things are GREAT and are notable achievements because you you’ve learned new skills that will come in handy in the future and you’ve also amassed a lot of knowledge meaning that when you try things once again, they will be easier and everything will be smooth sailing. Not so bad now, is it? ;)
4. Don’t compare yourself to other business owners.
This may be hard but try not to compare yourself with other business owners who are doing the same thing as you but are more successful. Sure someone else may have reached 1 000 email subscribers while you are still sitting at four after three months and one of them is your mum. (I think I may just ask my mum to subscribe to my email list, haha!) You’ve probably heard the saying, “comparison is the thief all joy” and I’ve found this to be true.
You don’t want to have all the joy your business brings you stripped because then the passion disappears and your business becomes a heavy weight, rendering all your hard work useless. Instead try to learn from those whose businesses are making leaps and who knows what they are struggling with behind the scenes that they never talk about?
Try to applaud them when they reach their goals and milestones because wouldn’t you rather have people applaud you when you reach your milestones? And remember, just because other people get there sooner doesn’t mean you will never get there. Focus on being better than you were yesterday and reaching as many tiny goals as you can. You can do it!
5. Embrace failure.
Wait, what? Oh, I know right? Why would I even say that? *scoffs* No, really, hear me out; people usually think that failure is a bad thing when it is really not. If you learn from your failures, they can be the best thing that has ever happened to you. Also, if you’re a first time entrepreneur, you’re most likely to fail the first time around (but this doesn’t necessarily mean you will!) and that is okay.
So many successful entrepreneurs that we look up to today have failed and some even more than once. I myself have failed. Twice. Story time: In2012 I founded a charity organisation and had put together what I thought was the best team to work with until I was “asked” to step down as chairperson so another person would chair instead for college credits then that person ended up sabotaging the whole thing. I felt all these not so good emotions at once because I really wanted it to be a thing and I wanted to help people. But I appreciate that experience. Though it was short-lived, I met some really amazing people (some of whom became good friends of mine) and I believe they will be world changers one day.
For my next venture that led to where I am today, I first started out as a multidisciplinary design agency offering services in graphic design, photography and illustration and that went on for TWO years without paying clients. Needless to say, it didn’t pay my bills so I rebranded (reinvented!) into a brand and website design business earlier this year. It’s slow going but things are looking up and yes, it pays my bills!
I’m not saying that you should set out to fail (winning does feel really good), I’m merely saying that if you do fail, it’s not a bad thing and it’s actually valuable and very okay!
Now if you feel your business has failed, have the courage to let go. Put everything in your metaphorical bag of Lessons Learned and when the time is right for you to create your next business, you get to empty that bag but this time it would have turned into Knowledge Accrued.
I hope all these tips help you keep the faith and hold on to your passion of creating and helping people that when someone asks if everything you have gone through was worth it, you’ll get to say, “Yeah. Yeah, it was. I worked my darnest at something I was passionate about and it made me into a smarter, stronger and wiser person than I was before I started. Bet your ass it was worth it.”
I'd love to hear from you. How do you pick yourself up when you feel like giving up? Let me know in the comments!