It’s easy to let love and passion fall by the wayside, especially after a few years together. Oh, sure, things start out hot n’ heavy. You invest time, money, energy. You can’t eat or sleep. Nothing gets in the way of you and your beloved business.
But after a while, things aren’t going so well. Or maybe they’re just okay and you’ve gotten bored. You find yourself neglecting the tasks that keep the passion burning, things you used to love doing. You can’t seem to stay on track and things are stagnating. Or—worse still—maybe it’s starting to look like this is the end.
If any of this sounds familiar, resist the urge to throw in the towel. Your relationship with your business can get better if you put the work in. Follow these steps to fall back in love with your business.
1. Remember Why You Started
Whether you’re talking about a marriage or a business venture, it’s helpful to take a few moments to think about why you started in the first place. Were you passionate about the work you did? Did you want to find a way to help people with a specific problem? Did you feel a calling to go into this line of work?
Something caused you to break off from the traditional path of 9-5 office work and start your own venture. Figure out what that was and remind yourself that those feelings of passion and fulfillment are still possible.
2. Identify the Problem
What can be a tricky and delicate exercise in couples therapy is essential when examining your business. (And, luckily, feelings are much less likely to be hurt.) Before you can fix what’s wrong, you have to know what’s wrong. Write down what you think the problem is, then keep asking yourself Why? until you get to the root of the issue.
I hate going to work every day. Why? Because there’s too much to do and not enough time. Why? Because I don’t delegate anything.
Hmm…maybe the real problem is that you try to do everything yourself, and simply delegating tasks to a trusted employee, consultant, or contractor would take some of the load off.
Try this out with any and all problems you can identify and see if you can’t come up with a simple solution that would solve everything. Our hypothetical entrepreneur above might even want to keep asking Why? until he finds out why he doesn’t delegate anything. Perhaps the problem is that he doesn’t trust his staff enough, or that the staff is untrustworthy, in which case he either needs to let go a bit more or hire a better staff.
3. Adjust Your Expectations
Nobody’s perfect, so it’s probably asking too much if you want your startup to make a million dollars in its first year. Step back and take a good, hard look at your business’ abilities and limitations. Be brutally realistic. Meet with a consultant if you feel the need to. Having lofty goals is great…but only if you have a realistic plan for reaching them.
Keep in mind that this can also extend to the expectations you have for your employees, customers, and business partners. There’s a fine line between having high standards and setting someone up for failure.
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4. Have an Honest Heart-to-Heart
Repairing any relationship usually involves a cathartic sit-down where all the frustrations and complaints come out. Hashing things out with your business will be a little bit easier (and hopefully involve less crying) than dealing with a person, but can still be a struggle, particularly if you’re not honest with yourself.
- Listen to your business. If your business is sending you loud and clear signals about what it needs to thrive, don’t ignore them. (Imagine if your significant other did that to you.)
- Tell your business what you need from it. More time at home? Clear directions on what to do next? Businesses, like relationships, are a two-way street. If something about your company isn’t working for you, change it.
- Recognize that you may be part of the problem. As in any relationship, be open to the fact that some of your business’ problems are your fault and not the result of the stars being misaligned.
- Follow through on your promises. Set concrete solutions in place. This is not the time to simply say, “I’ll do better next time.” Tell your business exactly what you plan to do in the future to make sure you never again find yourself at this level of apathy.
- Hold yourself accountable. Set up a regular, recurring appointment (Don’t cancel! Neither businesses nor people like to be stood up.) to check in and see how things are going. And don’t be afraid to make adjustments as necessary; relationships change over time.
5. Spend Quality Time Together
You already know you should be spending time on your business, but quality is more important than quantity. By all means, complete the necessary tasks that keep your business running, but set aside some time to “date” your business, too.
Don’t let yourself get bogged down by the daily distractions of employees, clients, and that ever-lengthening to-do list. Take some time every once in a while to set everything else aside and focus on building your business. Appreciate what it does for you. Give it a little gift to say “thank you.” Spend time doing those things you used to love doing back when you were getting your business off the ground.
We’ve said it before: taking care of your business will keep everyone happy (including your customers). So make sure you have a strong relationship before you let your attention get pulled elsewhere.
Of course, the most important piece of relationship advice we can give you is to remember that relationships take work. There’s no such thing as a “set it and forget it” type business. (And if that’s the type of entrepreneurial spirit you have, maybe you should consider going back to the 9-5.)
Clarity Creative Group is a web design & internet marketing company located in beautiful Orlando, Florida. We love and appreciate our business every day. It has really nice eyes.