Quite some years ago you started out in your business, brimming with positive expectations dreams that you were going to make come true. You were excited about what your big idea could lead you to, and your passion carried you through your first few years. You didn’t know what you didn’t know and this ignorance was bliss. You took big risks and giant strides into the future that you were intent on making.
Now you are tied to it like a concrete block. You’re working far too hard and you don’t have enough to show for it. Yes, you do have sales, cashflow, leads and a robust client base, but you feel like you’re dying under the workload of serving it all. The love you used to have for your work is slowly suffocating at the hands of endless admin, frantic jobs, an uncontrollable inbox and relentless customers that always seem to want more than you can give. Lately you have become increasingly tempted to get a haircut and a real job. You started this business to follow your passion, and now it is literally pushing you to the brink.
What Did I Want? – Re-ignite Passion
The first step to reclaiming what you feel that your business has stolen from you is to remember what you started it all for in the first place. Once upon a time you loved your core business offering and you wanted to tell the world about it. You were dedicated to making it work and you envisioned where it would take you. Reignite the passion you once had for this work. It’s still in there and it can be rekindled to give you the resurgence of ambition you need to make things better.
What Do I Want Now? – Goal
With your first love reignited, it’s time to be honest, and ask yourself what you really want now. Your blissful ignorance is long gone, and now you know that the journey of getting your life back will be epic. You’re not in the same starting position you were in back then, so take a look at your new landscape. What has changed? What remains? What are your ideal outcomes from this point forward. Clarify these to create a realistic new benchmark for yourself.
What Could It Become? – Vision
Exchanging those old naive ideals for more realistic goals will help lighten the load, but don’t go so far as to lose the entrepreneurial spirit of the starry eyed adventurer. As you conceive these new pathways forward, allow yourself to imagine wild outcomes. In the best case scenario, what might still be possible from here? How far could you reach? How powerful could your impact be? The limitless possibilities make this process all worth it. Keep stoking the fire of your wildest new dreams.
What If? – Benefits
With your head somewhere between your realistic goals and those entrepreneurial visions, connect yourself to the benefits of continuing the pursuit. How does this business still serve you, and what could you gain from making it stronger? Is it the income that drives you? The lifestyle for you and your family? The difference you make? The autonomy? Or other perks along the way? We all have different sources of ambition and reward, but tapping into what you get out of this business will keep you hungry for more.
What If I Don’t? – Motivation
Similarly, acknowledging the potential costs of not pushing through will help you stay on the front foot of your motivation. There’s nothing like measuring the opportunity cost to get us really going. It’s one thing to chase the promise of reward, but truly another to be propelled to action by realising that without this surge, you may very well put your business, your family, your financial security or even your sense of identity at risk. A healthy balance of “What If I Do?” and “What If I Don’t?” will keep you on the right track.
What Do I Have? – Inventory
Now that you have your head in the game it’s time to get down to business and take an audit of what you already have to get this show on the road. You have physical resources like computers, phones, cars, shopfronts, stock, and office equipment that can be put to use straight away to begin reclaiming your business. When you combine these resources with the people in your circle, your years of professional experience, and the natural strengths you bring to the table, you’ll see there’s a lot you can do to create change now.
What Do I Do? – Strategy
This evaluation process may have inspired some strokes of genius about moving forward. To create real change, these ideas need to become specific action steps. It’s not enough to write down your general direction or ideal outcome. Reclaiming your business can only be guaranteed when you have a step by step plan to follow. Ambiguity makes positive change fall victim to tiredness, confusion, dismay, frustration, or the next urgent crisis. Writing down every single step of the strategy puts this change into autopilot.
What Do I Need? – Resources
There will be some steps that you won’t be able to take without acquiring some new things. You might need to buy new equipment or upgrade what you have now. It might be as simple as installing new apps or software, or subscribing to a new service. You could enrol in a short course to expand your knowledge or do some online training … If you are really committed to making this new mission stick, you might invest in some new social connections, and dare I say it, redefine some of your less beneficial relationships.
What Do I Do Now? – Schedule
Now you have everything you need to reclaim your business … The only thing separating you from change is your planning. Your business will return to you when you turn your strategy into a schedule in your calendar. Timeframes, appointments and deadlines will let you draw a line in the sand. To keep you and your staff on the straight and narrow, document everything to make that autopilot work for you. Checklists, diagrams, instructions and procedures will take the gamble and guess work out of this transformation.
What Have I Achieved? – Evaluate
No transformation is complete without evidence … even if it were, how could you truly know that you made it? The most vital part of the business reclaim journey is to measure your progress. Your measurements will reflect your initial goals. Were you seeking more time? Revenue? Profit? Sales? Clients? The list of areas you could have targeted in your business reclaim is endless, but across every area is the need for data to prove your progress and inform future steps. Evaluation is the lifeblood of every healthy business, and when these processes become central to your operation, you’ll find that your business can never hold you hostage again.