People often think that the only businesses that get ‘stuck’ are those that are really new, unsuccessful and/or inexperienced. Unable to get momentum, find new clients or grow the business – these are the things most commonly associated with a stagnant business, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that once you’re established, becoming ‘stuck’ isn’t something you need to worry about.
The truth is, there are many successful business owners who feel stuck, unfulfilled or even anxious about their future, in spite of the fact that they no longer worry about how to pay their bills. Their unrest lies in a different fear entirely – now that the work is rolling in, are they stagnating, getting complacent or even worse – lazy?
As your business grows and you experience the very success you have been craving, it is easy to lose your edge and the passion that got you there in the first place. Getting caught up in the ‘managerial’ aspects, your focus switches to the daily tasks, responsibilities and seemingly endless to-do list – and away from the part of the job that you actually love, enjoy and excel at. Often, you won’t realise this is happening until it already has, and you might find yourself wondering where it all went wrong!
A very successful client of mine, who has a wonderful business and is brilliant at what he does, was discussing this phenomenon with me just the other day. Contemplating what was next for his business, he began to reflect on his fear that he would lose his edge and start to stagnate. When I probed a little deeper, he described a situation that on the surface looks like a great problem to have – he has work coming in by itself, is booked out months in advance, and has no need to worry financially – but still he worries that he is becoming ‘stuck’.
In his case, he fears that he is being ‘lazy’ (his word) - not in the way he delivers to his clients, but in the sense that he is taking the easy job opportunities that present themselves, rather than declining them (or outsourcing them to freelancers) in favour of doing the work he genuinely loves. One comment in particular was very telling - he said “I actually love it when I am working with amazing teams who have a real problem they want to solve and it is totally unchartered territory – the trouble is, I have been so busy taking the work in front of me, that I don’t make the time to promote that this is the work I actually want to do!”
Luckily, my mate is a pretty self-aware guy. He already knows that something isn’t quite right, but just hasn’t taken the steps to change it yet (because he has no free time in between all those jobs he keeps accepting).
Although this seems like a ‘good’ problem to have, it’s important not to ignore it – otherwise, your business will start to stagnate, your star will wane, you’ll lose your edge and eventually, no-one will want what you have anymore.
So, what should you do if you think this is (or could be) you?
• Deliberately set aside the time to contemplate and write down what it is you absolutely LOVE doing – the things that engage, energise and challenge you, emotionally and intellectually, and that people ask you to do again and again. Chances are, these are the things that you do when you’re in the ‘zone’, and is probably the skillset that you’ve based your business on.
• Next, make another two lists - one of things that you do that are ‘just ok’ (you don’t hate them, but only do them out of necessity); and one of the stuff that really irritates you or that you actively dislike.
• Do a quick assessment of how much time you spend in each of these camps, and review this every quarter. Your aim should be to remove the stuff that irritates you, minimise the stuff that is ‘okay’ and maximise (80% or more) the time spent in the zone that you love.
If, like my friend, you are in business and busy - carve out some deliberate time to go through this process.
In all likelihood, your answers will force you to make some tradeoffs - what are you willing to get rid of, outsource or say no to in order to make this your reality?
Ultimately, you need to surround yourself with great people - whether they be employees or contracted specialists - who allow you to leverage your abilities and amplify your passion and talents.
• Just because you are an established business doesn’t mean that you can’t get stuck - in fact, the more established and successful you are, the more likely it is that you will need someone external who can be a catalyst for your business and force you to take action
• Don’t overestimate the value of having great people around you - trying to do everything yourself is a false economy. Yes, you will have to invest in these outsourced skill sets, but imagine the power and potential of only doing what you are amazing at?
Need more help? I’ve got your back!
Do you need a catalyst for change? Someone who can shake you up, wake you up and get you back in touch with your vision and passion?
Are you consumed by day to day activities, losing your spark and your connection to your greater cause?
Let’s get you back in the zone!