This time of the year, as we approach the shortest day of light in the northern hemisphere, it is natural to be very introspective. One complaint that I’ve heard from many business owners is that they’ve lost their passion for their business – or they never had it to begin with. If that is the case for you, let’s change that right now.
They feel like they’re drifting without any real plan, reacting to every demand on their time that comes their way, and putting out fires instead of making real progress toward their goals and dreams. They have lost their vision along with their passion. When there is no vision, the people perish. It was true in the Bible, it was true in 1992 when Bill Clinton made it one of the themes of his campaign, and it is true for all small business owners.
As a result, they feel frustrated, tired and discouraged, and they may even start to doubt that they can make their business work.
If you feel a lack of clarity and control in your business and marketing efforts, here are a few steps you can take today to restore your vision and passion:
STEP 1: DETERMINE WHAT YOU REALLY WANT TO DRIVE YOUR PASSION.
If you once had the passion for your business, but have since lost it, steps two and three will be especially important for you. If you never had it perhaps you need to go back to why?
But if you’ve never really felt passionate about your business, and you’re only in this profession because it’s profitable or because you think you ‘should’ be, this first step is very important: you need to determine what you want to be when you grow up. And we never really grow up if we want to live our lives to the fullest. On the day of his death, Albert Einstein was said to be working on his unified field theory. What can you do to feel good about on the morning of your last day?
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to get back on that track:
- “What do I love doing so much that, if I already had all the money I would ever need, I’d still do this activity for free?”
- “What do I naturally find myself thinking about, and longing to do, when I ‘should’ be focusing on my business?”
Once you’ve answered those questions, ask yourself: do those answers align with what you’re currently doing?
If not, can you shift the focus of your business to include more of the activities that you love and naturally think about?
Can you monetize these pastimes that you’ve treated as hobbies until now?
If your career revolves around something you love to do and naturally think about a lot, you’ll have more passion, skill, focus, and energy with which to run, market and plan your business. If you are stuck at this step, you might want to subscribe to our vision discovery blog series when it starts in January.
STEP 2: DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT YOUR BUSINESS TO LOOK LIKE.
Once you’re sure you’re in the right profession, it’s time to ask yourself what kind of impact and lifestyle you want to create with your business. When you know what you’re creating and working toward, you’ll be more motivated and excited to work on your business.
Here are some questions that will help you set your goals. When you answer these questions, it’s important to use specifics that you can form a plan around, not vague terms that merely give you a general direction in which to wander.
- What kind of lifestyle do you want?
- How much do you want to be paid each week?
This will help you determine how many products or units of service you need to sell, and how they need to be priced, so you can create an income that makes you feel good about having traded your time for it.
- What effect do you want your business to have on your customers?
STEP 3: WRITE OUT YOUR VISION STATEMENT
Now that you have answered some of the key questions, write down your vision statement. Vision statements should stretch the imagination while providing direction and clarity. A good vision statement will help inform direction and set priorities while challenging employees to grow. This statement should be compelling not just to the owners of the firm, but also to all employees and other stakeholders.
- Project three to five years in the future. When we help clients with this we focus on three
- Dream big, and focus on success
- Use the present tense
- Use clear, concise language
- Infuse your vision statement with passion and emotion
- Paint a graphic mental picture of the business you want and include the effect on your family and friends
- Have a plan to communicate your vision statement to your employees
- Be prepared to commit time and resources to the vision you establish
STEP 4: CHECK YOUR ACTIVITIES TO SEE IF THEY’RE BRINGING YOU THERE.
Now it’s time to take a good, hard look at your business activities and marketing efforts.
Is each and every one of them bringing you closer to the goals you just laid out?
Or are some of them just requests for your time that don’t truly help people or move you toward your goals, or busywork that you’re ‘supposed to do’ but that isn’t bringing you results?
Wasting time on tasks that get you nowhere will only sap your passion, distract you from your goals, and keep you from creating the business you desire. If you’ve been doing that, it’s time to make a change.
If you’re spending a lot of time on repetitive tasks, either outsource them or find a way to automate them.
If something isn’t getting you results, either change the way you’re doing it or replace that activity with a more productive task.
Whatever you do, stay laser-focused on the activities that bring you income and influence in your field. Pointless tasks can be replaced. Your precious time cannot.
Hopefully, you have a better idea now of your vision for where you are going – we want to help you with some ideas of how to take seven steps to small business marketing success so you make that vision a reality.
Image Credit – Frederick Geiger