If you own a business, work for yourself or are an entrepreneur, one thing is for certain: You will encounter a low. It can be devastating financially and emotionally. Even tougher to swallow is that businesses are more likely to fail in their fifth year than their first, suggesting that even if you make it past the startup phase, the going gets tough even further down the line.
I recently encountered the first crash in my freelance writing business after several successful years. I was taking on too much work, had family stress to deal with (my husband and I were buying and selling a house), and many of my client relationships were dissolving. Almost overnight, my income was gone, and the loss of confidence in myself became the biggest obstacle of all. I considered ditching it all and getting a “real” job, and then learned the hard way that a business setback doesn’t mean your business has to end. In fact, mine became an opportunity for growth.
Here are some of the strategies that helped me recover myself — and my business.
TAKE A BREAK TO RETHINK YOUR GOALS
When my business first started floundering, I did what I had always done: work harder and take on more clients. But it was like throwing bricks at an already-solid wall. My business needed to change, and so did I.
So I took a drastic step and just stopped. I stopped chasing clients and I stopped working around the clock. It was time to let my business breathe, because sometimes, we need to step back to figure out where to go next.
I did things on my week-long business break that I hadn’t let myself do in years. I watched a movie with my kids without working on my computer the whole time. I read a book just for fun. I even took a spontaneous overnight trip with my husband. My break helped me see that, more than anything, I needed to re-learn how to make my business a part of my life and not have it come before everything else.