3 Actionable Steps to Get Out of Your Small Business Rut | Ballast Notes
When you're working solo or on a small team, it's far too easy to get stuck in a rut. I know that as a small business owner, I've fallen victim to overthinking business decisions, feeling anxious about a lack of (or too many) clients, and simply just get stuck in my own head. After a few years in the biz, I've had the time and experience to start developing tactics to deal with burnout and feeling like you're in a rut.
- Build your branding.
It feels a little contradictory to say -- as someone who works on branding for others on an almost daily basis -- that I didn't invest enough time in my own branding. Although I had a solid visual brand down, I spent countless hours writing a re-writing website content, email templates, and blogs. Looking back, it would have been much more wise to spend time nailing down what my written brand would look and feel like at very beginning. Your branding represents what you and your biz are all about, and it's important to invest time in it so your audience really receives your message.
And once you have your branding established, don't be afraid to make changes. It will be natural to make tweaks a couple times a year as your business grows, and is likely necessary to do a more major overhaul once every couple years. Just like your own self, your business is not stagnant. It will grow and change over time, and it's only natural that your branding will do that as well.
- Develop a routine, but don't feel defined by a schedule.
One of the main reasons I didn't feel productive in a 9-5 job was the schedule. As a creative, I wanted to work on my own time -- whether that meant working remotely, working late at night, or ending my day early if I didn't feel like I was being productive.
When I first started Anchored Creative Studio, I didn't have a good routine. Because I wanted to buck that traditional job, I would often start work late and work slowly, only to realize in the late afternoon how much more work I should be completing that day. It wasn't sustainable for my work, and I was getting burnt out my working throughout the entire day.
Building a routine is important, and help you feels like you have more of a "real" job, even if you might be working out of your living room. For myself, I wake up around 7:30 each morning, do some yoga, eat breakfast, and start working around 9:30. I might take a few breaks throughout the day to run errands or go grab lunch, but I always wrap up by 6:30 p.m. This is my routine -- but I try to not feel defined by a traditional schedule. If I've completed everything I need to do, I don't feel the need to clock in eight full hours, or to take only a certain amount of vacation days per year. The beauty of having your own biz is being able to make these big decisions for yourself, and creating your own routine is one of the most important. If you're feeling exhausted by your own schedule, figure out the best way to work smarter instead of harder.
- Be authentic.
Another cause of burnout that I've personally experienced is pretending to be something you're not. In a wild world of social media, it's so easy to compare yourself to your peers, and to not be aware of the hard work behind the overnight successes. It's easy to try out tactics that helped others, but might not be the right move for you to make in your business.
Being yourself and finding your own niche is one of the most important things you can do in order to make your business as sustainable as possible. Authenticity is important not only for that long-term sustainability of your business model, but also for your own personal growth. Being able to practice what you preach will help your own mental health and will keep passion in your business as it grows.