Stress. Frustration. Hopelessness.
Anyone who’s ever run a business can relate to these feelings. Along with the occasional euphoria of landing a lucrative contract, hitting our sales goals, or reaching 1000 followers, running a business is a constant rollercoaster of emotions.
When it comes to our most complex problems, we can get stuck at the first step. We think: What in the world do I do now? Although we shouldn’t minimize our serious problems, every solution starts with taking the first step.
Here are a few ideas that may help us figure out what that may be:
Problem: We Need Money
No one wants to talk about this. Money is such a touchy and sometimes embarrassing question. Who wants to admit they have bad credit or enormous debt? Who wants to admit they sometimes have to eat Ramen instead of going too trendy cafes with their friends?
But we actually have a few options when we need an injection of cash into our business. Our first step is checking our credit score to see what our options may be. Credit Sesame explains that:
“This scoring range starts at 300 as the poorest score and goes up to 850 as the highest range possible, or excellent credit. Specifically, bad credit ranges from 300 to 629, fair credit ranges from 630 to 689, good credit ranges from 690 to 719, and finally, excellent credit which ranges from 720 and to 850.”
This information gives us exactly where we are on the scale and what our options may be. With good credit, we can go directly to the bank and/or a credit card company. There are special programs for women entrepreneurs but they may take longer to apply. If we have bad credit, we can talk to our local credit unions and see what options they have.
NEXT STEP: When we’re faced with immediate financial issues, always seek professional help. I’ve found credit union loan officers to be the best source of information. They don’t work on commission and provide fair counseling when we’re desperate to find money solutions.
Problem: We Are Overwhelmed
Being busy is a good thing. Being overwhelmed isn’t.
My personal definition of being overwhelmed, after many years of experience, is the state of not being able to handle the immediate issues in our lives. It’s being frazzled, frustrated and clueless all at the same time. We don’t know where to start first because there are so many problems dropping all at once.
Crawling out of this dark place starts with a few basic facts. First, we have the power to change our situation. Second, there are answers out there. In It’s Time To Deal With Your Stress Before It Kills Your Business, I shared the following:
“Starting and running a business can be a terrifying thing. Yet, we don’t have to do it alone. Successful business owners build a network of support and are willing to ask others for help. It’s a simple solution to a complex problem. Don’t suffer in silence – reach out and ask for help.”
We’re all unique individuals with different problems. But the first step towards reducing our stress and feelings of being overwhelmed starts with the same basic action:
Ask for help.
Whether it’s outsourcing, delegating, or finding the courage to start saying no, changing our mindset from “I can handle everything” to “I need help” isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength.
Next Step: Get organized. There are plenty of planning systems and lifestyle options. I personally love Bullet Journals and minimalism. Find a system that fits our life and keeping the chaos at bay becomes easier.
Note for those in a dark place: There’s no shame in seeking professional help if we’re depressed and overwhelmed. Make the call if needed.
Problem: We Need More Customers
Switching gears to a much lighter, although incredibly important topic. Running a business is a constant journey of ups and downs. The highs make us euphoric and the lows keep us up at night.
When we need more clients or customers immediately it’s probably because our cash flow has dried up and we’re in real trouble. The first step is to make the phone ring as fast as we can. Anna Dixon shares the following ideas in 23 Creative Sales Promotion Ideas to Drive More Business
- Give away free samples
- Give discounts to a specific group
- Creating timely ads to increase urgency
We can choose a few that best suit our business and marketing budget. Try one, track the results, and change course if it’s not working. A quick influx of cash may be enough to get us through a few dry months.
Next Step: The only way to keep customers flowing in is to fix our broken sales pipeline. I personally love marketing automation tools that do amazing things to turn prospects into customers. They may seem overwhelming at first, but they are worth the investment.
The First Step Is Always the Hardest
We live in a world of Instagram success stories. Where we sometimes believe that everyone else is thriving while we’re struggling to keep our head above water. It’s isolating and makes us feel like failures because we can’t seem to do what seems easy for everyone else.
We all face problems and it’s insane not to admit that. It’s also paralyzing for many who feel hopeless and have no clue where to start. Just remember the first step is always the hardest.
And the next step is always easier.
Liesha’s a freelancer by day and Kyokushin Black Belt by night.
She’s the author of Killing Rapunzel: Learning How to Save Yourself Through Determination, Grit, and Self-Employment (her mother hates the title – but it’s a metaphor mom!). She talks freelancing adventures at Microbusiness Essentials.