It’s a brand new year, but if you feel that your business is stuck in rut, you probably don’t feel much like celebrating.
When you start a new business or a new job, there is a great feeling of excitement and anticipation. Each day it seems as if you are learning something new or overcoming a new challenge. It can be exhilarating. After a while, though, things start to calm down and fall into a predictable pattern. The steadiness can be a relief at first – no one could keep up at that pace forever – but, at the same time, it can also be a letdown.
Without new challenges, you may even feel as if you have stalled professionally. If you feel that your business is in a rut, it’s time to change things up. Here are five steps to take to get unstuck:
Here are five steps to take to get business unstuck
Get Away from the Familiar
This suggestion does not mean taking a vacation (although that sounds pretty good). What it means is that you could gain a new and clearer perspective by getting away from the office. Suggest a day-long team meeting somewhere off-site at which you can focus on one particular aspect of your business. Have a set agenda to avoid wasting time, but allow for brainstorming and for the free exchange of ideas.
You may find that your team’s energy and enthusiasm is what you need to get unstuck. Be sure to take notes. Try to come up with a one-page action plan to take back to the office with you.
Request Customer/Client Feedback
Do you feel your company is not getting anywhere? Ask your customers or clients what they think. Consider an online survey or post some key questions on your social media accounts. Ask a few important clients to meet with you to discuss how you can serve them better.
Get to know your clients and how they feel about your service or product. Your customers’ responses may be the fuel you need to launch that new project you have been mulling over.
Analyze Your Competitors
There’s nothing like a renewed sense of competition to get the ideas flowing. What are your competitors up to this winter? Spend some time on their websites or in their places of business. Read their blogs. Try their products. What you find may surprise you and motivate you to do things differently.
Meet with Support Person or Mentor
If you don’t have a mentor to whom you go to for advice during a time like this, it’s time to get one. Who is someone with experience in a related business whose opinions you respect? Call or write to that person asking him or her to meet you for lunch or a cup of coffee to discuss your industry.
To find a mentor, join a trade or professional organization in your field or try joining a professional service organization. When you find the right person, this relationship can be an invaluable one for gaining confidence and motivation.
Another way to gain insight and ideas is to read interviews with or a biography of an innovator in your business niche. You will be encouraged to learn how that individual worked though different career low points or setbacks.
Remember What Got You Started in the First Place.
Take some time to review the original goals you had when you started your business. Did you write a plan that you could re-read now? You may be encouraged to see how far you have come, or you may see clearly where you have strayed from your plan. Either way, when you think back to what got you motivated in your career in the first place, it can give you a push in the right direction.
Develop a new plan.
Now it’s time to take all this information to put together a new plan to get you moving forward again. Here are some ideas to consider:
- New work schedule – Do you need to change your work hours or workdays? Would a four-day work week be an option? How about telecommuting one or more days a week?
- Different location –Is your office in the best location for your business? Do you need more foot traffic? Do you need to be closer to public transportation? Is your rent too high?
- More or less team members –What are your staffing needs? Could you augment with some part-time or freelance help? Do you need to re-define who does what?
The hopeful news is that every business falls into a rut at some time or another. What separates the successful ones from the ones that fail is what their owners do to get out of the ruts. Ultimately, what works the best is to change your attitude. Whether you work alone or head up a team, your positive attitude will help to pull your business out of a stall.
Researchers have long proven that negativity holds us back and that positive thought can propel us forward. An example is a landmark study by Barbara Frederickson, a University of North Carolina researcher. In the 2008 study, supported by the National Institute of Mental Health Grant, Frederickson and her team studied 139 adults and found that their positive emotions produced positive outcomes in their work and personal lives.
Albert Einstein once wrote “To continue doing the same thing and expecting different results is insanity.” It takes courage to recharge your business, but remember it took courage to get it started in the first place. Start taking the steps to get out of that rut and on to your next challenge.