No matter how much we try to prepare for the worst and be ready for whatever life throws at us, there are times when it’s not so simple.
A relationship breaks down. There’s an accident. Someone close to you dies. You become so uncertain of where your life is heading and which path to take.
Life. There really is no plan for it.
When you’re the boss, you’re responsible for holding business together. Maybe there is no one to delegate to. You feel immense pressure to keep going. You feel guilty for taking time off.
holding business together
Yet you can’t focus. You lack any motivation to get through your to do list and may just want to crawl under the duvet and wait it out for a few days or even weeks.
You know what?
It’s okay to take a step back.
Your self-preservation is more important than any income you can make. It’s more important than any networking event, blog post, social media update, or hustling to fill your pipeline.
If you don’t take care of yourself in these difficult times, business will fall apart too.
Whether you’re going through this now (like I am) or want to prepare for the unexpected, here are some survival tactics on holding business together when life falls apart around you:
1. figure out what’s critical
Your current, paying customers and contracts need to receive your attention.
They are the bloodline of your business.
If you neglect them, you will damage relationships and lose money. You MUST maintain your focus for them, deliver what is expected, and put your energy into doing it well. You’ll also find that these moments can be a very useful distraction.
Your second priority should be active inquiries from potential customers.
Try to keep your pipeline full, but don’t overextend yourself when it comes to scheduling meetings.
It can also be really helpful to focus on securing clients in advance for future month, when you think things may ease up a bit with your personal matters.
Drop a lot of other things: meetings for the sake of meetings, demands on your time that aren’t from paying or potential clients (or investors), people who want to pick your brain about something.
Just say no, and come back to it when you’re in a better place.
2. delegate, automate or halt
When you’re in the early days of business and money’s not yet flowing, you’re likely to be doing most business activities yourself and saving as much cash as possible.
As you learn about your business activities and start to grow, think about what you could have other people do for you.
Can someone else screen and manage the requests that come into your inbox?
Do you need to be the one managing your social media?
Who can help you with your accounts? Your marketing? Your website maintenance?
There are tons of freelancer websites out there with people waiting to take this stuff off your plate. There are also a lot of tools that can make the day-to-day running of your business less time-consuming.
The earlier you think about the support systems you need for your business, the better off you’ll be when the going does get a bit tough.
(And eventually it will get a bit tough! So seriously, start to think about this early on.)
If you can’t afford to build these systems now, be truthful about what is crucial and what can pause for awhile.
3. give yourself space
The good news is, eventually these feelings that you (and I) are feeling will pass. Do whatever you need to do to get through them. Go for a run. Cry. Eat cake. Sleep.
Go easy on yourself.
I’ve been quiet lately. I am offline more often than online. I respond to people who reach out to me, but I’m not initiating conversations.
I’ve been spending a lot of time on my own, processing what has happened. Sometimes I speak with friends. Sometimes I distract myself in small talk with strangers. Often, I just sit and think and write.
In time I will figure out what to do next, but I know I need to take my time.
And in time, clarity will come. New ideas will emerge. Productivity will return. Everything will be okay.
I trust that my business is going to be there waiting for me on the other side.
You should too.
over to you
What gets you through your tough times in business?
I’d love to know your techniques for holding shit together when life gets in the way. Leave a comment below, as others will benefit from hearing your experiences.