Alone in the Fog
Are you one of those people who has recently taken the plunge and set up your own business? Well massive congratulations on such a brilliant step. I did the same thing two years ago and I have never looked back. The feeling of working for yourself is uplifting and empowering in equal measure, it can also be quite the opposite sometimes too. I work with lots of startups and people setting out on their own, and whilst they have terrific enthusiasm and drive they will admit that there are times when they feel very isolated and alone, and sometimes quite lost in what they describe as a fog.
If you are reading this you might have suddenly realised that you have had the same feelings and actually might have thought it was just you that had them. Take heart, you are not alone, I have had these thoughts, others have and more people moving forward will too. It is a natural part of the process.
Why does this happen? Well the constant worry when self-employed is that you will not be able to make enough money to keep going and this will mean having to go back to employed work, which frankly after being self employed sounds like a terrible option. Not only that, but you might believe that others will think you have failed. This worry or even fear is what keeps you going, and I believe rightly or wrongly that like stage fright it is healthy and natural and when you get to the stage where you stop worrying, well then you have something to worry about as apathy has set in!
So how can I get out of this?
Try one or more of my 7 Focuses
- Present Focus. First things first, make an effort to be more present, less doing more being. Take time to reflect on what you have achieved and how you did it, even if it means thinking about the things that did not work so well.
- Current Client Focus. Create a list of clients that you have worked with and starting from the top work through and call each one in turn. You are not selling to them, you are just calling them for a bit of a chat, to update them on what you are doing and to find out what they are currently up to. In sales we call this a service call. It keeps the relationship going and helps to keep you as business owner in touch with the client and for them it keeps you front of mind.
- New Client Focus. I have a thing that I do; it involves speaking to five new people every day. I make a point of calling and finding out some key things about what they do. It has become habit now, and it means that the business is constantly in touch with the market. You could do something similar, it is very easy, and good practice. In addition do not underestimate networking events, co working environments and speaking engagements these can be great for opening doors.
- Product/Service Focus. Look at what you are currently offering in terms of products and services. Just as you would with a stuff at home when you are sorting through, do the same here, get rid of things that don’t work, polish and refine those that are working. For the latter make sure your sales offering is clear and adds value, think about what is in it for your client and work backwards.
- Social Focus. Take a good look at your social media channels. In a recent book by Jim Keenan called Not Taught, he says that in 20 years our most valuable asset will not be our home but our social media profile. I am inclined to agree, think about how much effort it has taken to build it up! Look at how each one works for you, remember Twitter is word of mouth advertising, and when posting think about what is going to happen, what is currently happening and what has just happened and post accordingly. Don’t forget to included links and images and don’t overuse hash tags! Facebook is how you are found, 9/10 people have an account so it makes sense to get one and have a business page too. LinkedIn is basically Facebook for business, so use it the same way. Connect with people, find out where they have been working and their experience and use it as conversation starters. Other social media channels work well too just find the ones that work for you.
- Time Focus. Really think about how you use your time especially when scheduling meetings and tasks. There will be times when you have to work longer and harder, they do say make hay while the sun shines after all. Be productive is quiet times and learn effective working methods such as prioritization techniques, or working patterns like the Pomodoro technique to keep you on track. Take time to control your email too, create sub folders for clients and keep your inbox as clear as possible so that it doesn’t run away with you.
- Self Focus. Lastly take time for you, I like to keep a journal, not a dog and pony show of each day, just a simple three-line entry will suffice. I do one that is a win, learn, and change approach. I write something that went well each day, something that did not go well that I can learn from, and what I will do differently moving forward to inhibit the chance of making the same mistake twice. Easy. When used with the Present Focus it helps to keep yourself rewarded and in touch with yourself in terms of self-appreciation.
When you get stuck in a fog, try these seven focus based steps, and if nothing else they will distract from the negative thoughts and will give a light to move forward. Good luck with your venture, it will be as successful as you want it to be, it really is all up to you, but one thing is for sure, you are definitely not alone. Thank for reading.
If you would like to have a one to one session to build your confidence with your own business then give me a shout. I am Simon Hares and you can reach me on 07979 537824 or email firstname.lastname@example.org