As a business owner, the success of your business depends entirely on you.
That’s a heavy burden to bear.
SME business owners spend an average of 17 days each year outside working hours worrying about their business.
But it’s important not to suffer in silence. However anxious you may be about your performance, you can start to turn things around fast with these four practical steps:
- Look unflinchingly in the mirror
- Visualise your success
- Plan big but work small
- Surround yourself with like-minded people
Keep reading and we’ll explore four positive, proactive tactics to boost your personal and professional performance.
Look unflinchingly in the mirror
At some point almost every business owner worries they’re letting their business down: that’s totally normal. The important thing is to dig deeper, to move beyond generalised ‘anxiety’ to diagnose exactly what your concerns are.
Look honestly at yourself to build a clear picture of your strengths and weaknesses. That’s the first step to understanding how to move forwards positively.
It’s also crucial because, as a business owner, you’re likely to over-estimate how badly you think you’re doing.
Research shows 70% of people experience imposter syndrome, which leads to doubting your achievements and wrongly feeling like a failure.
Making an unflinching review of your strengths and achievements, as well as your weaknesses and improvement areas can help you identify where you should focus, to improve your overall performance.
It also helps make the process of self-improvement feel manageable. Rather than an insidious sense that you’re not good enough or not achieving enough, you can identify, for example, that improving your time management skills would mean you can get more done.
Visualise your success
Sportspeople have long been familiar with the idea of visualisation to improve performance, and the same principle applies in the business world.
Think of visualisation as a rehearsal, where you mentally walk-through where you’re going and how you’ll get there. You might think of visualisation as somewhat fluffy but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Visualisation is a powerful tool to prepare for possible challenges, so you’re more likely to handle them effectively if they arise. It also decreases anxiety (which often comes from fear of the unknown) and increases confidence (because you know what to expect and believe you’re well prepared).
In this way, visualising your journey makes your success as a business owner more likely.
Here’s how to get started.
- Create a mental vision of your end goal
- Mentally walkthrough all the steps to get there
- Note any possible obstacles at each step
- Mentally walkthrough how you’ll overcome each obstacle
- Mentally walkthrough the entire journey many times until you’re confident
This process helps you build a solid vision – and game plan – for the future. Visualisation is helpful to use whenever you’re feeling uncertain about the future of your business or facing challenges you’re not sure how to overcome.
Plan big – but work small
As a business owner, you’re naturally someone who has big ideas. Successful entrepreneurs don’t achieve their success by thinking small.
But it’s easy to get lost in the bigger picture and neglect the small steps it takes to achieve the end goal. Plus, the bigger picture can sometimes feel intimidatingly big, and you might find you’re putting off work because the situation feels insurmountable.
Successful business owners need vision, but you also need pragmatism. Big plans are always achieved in small steps.
- Map out your bigger picture vision
- Write down three to five goals associated with that vision
- Break each goal into small, manageable tasks
- Assign a chunk of time each day to work through your tasks
Unfinished tasks persist in the mind, causing anxiety and hindering our ability to stay in the present and get things done. It’s that feeling when you’re trying to work and you’re struggling to focus because you’re aware of the 101 other things you’ve still got to do. So ultimately you don’t achieve anything at all.
But research shows writing down your task-list reduces this effect so you can focus on what you’re currently working on.
Surround yourself with like-minded people
Being a business owner can often feel lonely. One of the most powerful tools at your disposal is community.
Surrounding yourself with other entrepreneurs and business owners has many benefits:
- Providing emotional support: This really matters because more than half of entrepreneurs say running a business has a negative impact on their mental health. If your mental health is struggling, your performance will very likely suffer.
- Helping you solve problems: Different people bring different perspectives to help you overcome challenges in new ways.
- Exchanging tips and lessons learned: Other entrepreneurs can share their personal journey to help you grow faster, without making the same mistakes.
- Making profitable connections: You never know when someone in your network will surface a new business opportunity.
Depending on your business, co-working spaces can be a fantastic place to meet other like-minded entrepreneurs. Industry events, business conferences and entrepreneur meet-ups are also great options.
Even if you don’t have a large community near you, there’s no reason to be isolated from your peers. There are social media communities, forums and digital events dedicated to anything you can think of, so you can build relationships with people all over the world.
Building a strong community of like-minded peers will help you become more like the business owner you want to be.
As a business owner, there’s a heavy weight on your shoulders – and plenty of factors that can contribute to stress, anxiety and underperformance. That’s a normal part of the entrepreneur journey and there’s no reason to feel ashamed.
Instead, be proactive about turning things around with these four steps. You’ll be back to your A-game before you know it.