I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying “life is a journey”. Well, there are few of life’s pursuits where that little piece of wisdom would be more apt than in describing one’s business life. Much like the travels that you may have taken as a wide-eyed backpacker fresh out of school or university, your business journey has likely had many ups and downs as well as moments of pure exhilaration interspersed with times where you have been so tired you didn’t think you could go on. If your travels included any hiking, I’m sure at one point you would have screamed to yourself “not another hill!!” as you gazed up at its lofty peak unsure as to whether your weary legs could carry you any further.
Although the comparisons between the worldly adventures of youth and the relatively less physically taxing pursuits of running a business might seem a bit abstract in one sense, they contain a truism that I have seen time and time again. The greatest rewards come from the journey itself. Or, perhaps more precisely, from within the extra effort required to drag yourself up and over “the hill”.
Over my 23 years in business I can’t tell you how often the simple question “How’s business?” has elicited responses from owners like “we’re cruising along OK” or “it’s a bit quiet right now” or even “it’s OK but would be a lot better if the government would…”. Seems to me like those businesses may be meandering comfortably along a plateau – a place from which, unless proactive measures are taken, the most likely direction is downhill. The plateau is a place where complacency rules, where creativity drains away and where your competitors smell metaphorical blood.
If you have the sense that your Business may be plateauing it is time to get out of your comfort zone and take action – in other words, search out and embrace your own personal hill. What the heck, why not make it a mountain!!
A few ideas that might help
- Shake things up! As the owner of the Business, you are in the drivers seat. It’s time to work on your own mindset as that will have direct flow-on effects for your Business. Read a positive book, take up Yoga – do anything that improves your headspace!
- Keep learning. Study a short course, join your local Toastmasters club or a networking group. Challenge yourself.
- Get a plan – once you’ve recognised that you have plateaued, you need a plan to move forward. If planning isn’t your forte, seek out the input of experienced people that have been there and done it themselves (even if you have to pay for the advice).
- Set a stretch target – whether it be a sales target or an activity target, aim for a result that is marginally beyond what ‘normal’ looks like for you. Then, let your creative juices flow in coming up with ways to achieve it. What we are looking for is to develop a culture of winning – 1 small win after another.
- Surround yourself with positive people – I’ve heard it said that your attitude is the average of those of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Your attitude is one of the most vital ingredients of success in Business. Protect it!
See you on top of that hill.