by Lisa Jacobs | Featured Contributor
A lull in your business’ momentum can be frustrating and discouraging. I share my creative business income reports every month, and in April, I earned a fraction of my monthly income goal. The results were so dismal, I had to include sound effects with the reveal!
Slow months happen to everyone, and it’s important to keep the stall in perspective. I like to think ruts are always in place for a reason. It could be a need for new designs, new customers or new ideas.
Consider this story from Think and Grow Rich, in which Napolean Hill writes of R.U. Darby, who invested in gold mining in the gold-rush days. He and his uncle had discovered an ore of gold and bought the equipment they needed to mine the land. As soon as they began drilling below the ore, they found that the vein of gold disappeared completely! They kept drilling to no avail, until they finally gave up hope and quit. Mr. Darby sold the machinery to a junk man for a fraction of its cost. The junk man then called a mining engineer to evaluate the land, and the engineer calculated that the vein of gold would be found three feet from where Mr. Darby and his uncle had stopped drilling. When Mr. Darby quit, he was three feet away from striking millions of dollars worth of gold.
“Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step BEYOND their greatest failure.”–Napoleon Hill
When I’m in a funk, I pick myself up with that story, and I try to adhere to the following fundamentals:
Focus on the next step.
What do you need to do in order to grow? You probably know what the answer is, but you don’t know how to achieve something you’ve never done before. Comfort zone, anyone? You don’t need to have the next step accomplished tomorrow, but you do need to know the next small action you have to take to get you closer toward your bigger goals. By breaking down big goals into small actions, you can make the stretching of your comfort zone a bit more … comfortable. For now, write down your goal and start to brainstorm on the page about the things you’ll need to do to achieve it. You’ll find that when you put pen to paper around a question, solutions start falling onto the page. Turn these solutions into a numbered to-do list, simply by prioritizing them. Which small actions need to be taken first? Be persistent in your follow-through, and before you know it, you’re on the next step!
Do something today that you’ll thank yourself for tomorrow.
You know, that thing you’ve been putting off? That mess you haven’t cleaned up? That stack of unfinished business you’ve been avoiding? Tackle it. Go, right now. Do something today that will allow you to wake up tomorrow morning with a sigh of relief that it’s finished. Put in the hard work that you’re dreading. Stop procrastinating. You’ll thank yourself in the morning.
Ask: Is what I’m doing working?
Oftentimes when we’re involved in an ineffective way of doing things, we get stuck in a “that’s-just-the-way-things-are” mentality. That’s just the way things are can slow us down for y-e-a-r-s, and it’s a crying shame how often we try to out-think our commonsense. Is there anywhere in your life where you’re stubbornly trying to fit a square peg into a circular hole? In the handmade business, our perspective is almost always too close. If you’re happy with the results you’re getting, do more of what’s working. If you’re not happy with the results, you have to do things differently. I am loving on the “Naive Question” posed by Paul DePodesta (the guy behind the movie, Moneyball) in a speech he delivered: “If we weren’t already doing it this way, is this the way we would start?” If you weren’t already doing your [shipping, producing, schedule, branding, customer service, fan page, mailing list, etc.] this way, is this the way you would start? If the answer is “no,” change the way you’re doing things to achieve the results you want.
Best of luck!
Lisa Jacobs writes the blog, Marketing Creativity for fellow creatives who aim to build a career with their own two hands. She offers a bundle of free marketing tools designed to help you get paid to be … you.