For far too long, the stories we have been told about succeeding as an entrepreneur have been based on working hard, often at the expense of our mental health and wellbeing.
It is time for this to change.
I know from my own experience that is possible to generate real revenue while working in a way that reflects who you are, the rhythm you want to work at and the lifestyle you want.
In this blog, I explain the three key principles you need to focus on to make sure your business is working for you, rather than you working for your business.
This blog is part of my Slow Challenge series and is a summary of a related podcast episode.
Before I share my three key principles to making sure your business aligns with your lifestyle and needs, I want to talk about two very important distinctions you need to think about if you want to work at your own pace.
Proactively going ‘slow’ versus doing it once you burnout
As I have talked to entrepreneurs over the last year, the word I kept hearing was ‘exhaustion.’ We have all been emerging from a global pandemic only to be confronted with economic challenges and war in Ukraine. This is on top of the challenges of living a globally mobile life!
This is part of why I developed my Slow Challenge program. I wanted to help you find a way to either take a break from your business or find a new pace of working that was more sustainable for you. When I was developing the program, I did not know that there is actually a whole slow business movement, based on the idea of going at your own pace! I recommend checking it out.
My point here is that you can CHOOSE to slow down without giving up on your business.
And it is very important that you understand the difference between proactively choosing to work in a way that best suits you versus collapsing with exhaustion, being burnout and being forced to take a break. These are very different situations.
If you want to go slow, either temporarily or permanently, you need to reflect on the seasons in your business and/or design a business that generates revenue while going at the pace that is best for you. You need to be proactive and intentional about creating and designing your business to suit you.
What happens when you slow down: inspiration or desperation?
When I take a break from my business, I usually come back with new ideas, and inspiration and I’m excited to get back to work. The break gives me a chance to experience new places, ideas, people and opinions that fuel my passion for what I do.
However, if you find you are dreading your return to work and you feel completely disconnected from your business, you need to pay attention to that feeling. Please do not dismiss this! You need to work out why you are feeling this way and address it.
Let me give you an example from my own experience. At the beginning of Tandem Nomads, I focused a lot on issues and topics that impacted expats. I found that over time I was feeling disconnected from that and lacked motivation. When I reflected on why this was happening, I had to think about what was really important to me. I realized that what excited me most was helping individuals, particularly women, develop businesses that aligned with their needs so that they could find fulfillment and achieve their full potential.
So if you are struggling to find a connection to your business after a break or are not excited to jump back in, think about what you really want to do and what it would take for you to be excited again.
It might be a whole new business, it might be some small changes in focus or it could be evolving your brand. The most important thing is to dig into WHY you are feeling like this and to know that it is OK to change!
One thing to note: it can be very scary if you want to make a significant change when you are completely dependent on your revenue for your household’s income. One way of addressing this is to continue with your current business but begin to make small changes in the background, allowing you to transition slowly over time.
Three principles to help you get the business AND the life you want
If you want to apply these principles effectively to your business and your life, you will need to spend some time reflecting on what you want and how you want to do it. I recommend journaling as a great way to do this. I have designed a free workbook that uses journaling to guide you through these principles in more detail.
1. Connect to what you really want
No one can tell you what you really want – this is something you have to figure out for yourself. In the workbook that goes with this blog, I encourage you to use an approach called future pacing. This is something that I have found useful and that I encourage all my clients to do. Imagine where you will be in seven years’ time and write a letter from your ‘future self’ to yourself now. I have provided a list of questions to help you do this. Just write what comes to you – don’t analyze or overthink this! Allow yourself to dream big and let go of any fears or self-limiting beliefs.
Keep this letter safe and read it regularly as a reminder of what you really want and to see if you are on track to get it. Also, don’t be afraid to re-write it as your life and your business evolves.
2. Define clearly what you are committing to
This is probably the most important of the three principles.
You don’t need to work hard to generate real revenue, but what you need is to be committed to making real revenue.
We are so conditioned to hard work and stress as an unavoidable part of being an entrepreneur or running a small business and that needs to change. It is so important not to confuse hard work with commitment. You need to know what you are committing to and make that choice knowing what works for you, your bandwidth and your lifestyle. I believe that businesses fail not because of a lack of work but rather a lack of commitment.
You need to commit to doing the small things that will take your business where you need it to be to feel fulfilled by the way your business is working for you – these can be aligned to your needs and your personal rhythm.
Even more importantly, you need to commit to yourself and you cannot do that until you know who you are. You need to be able to ask yourself if you are living up to who you want to be, and you can only answer that question if you are super clear about what that means.
If you go to the workbook that goes with this blog, you will see that I’ve listed some questions to help you reflect on what it means to commit to your business and to yourself.
3. Define the habits you need to be successful
Habits are one of the keys to success. Even if you think you don’t have habits, that is a habit in itself! You need to work out what habits and routines work best for you and enable you to be who you want to be. Without the consistency of your habits and routines, it can be hard to be successful. So the question here is what can you do consistently that allows you to go at your own rhythm and build a successful business? The answer will be different for each of us.
For example, I am committed to empowering people to live up to their full potential, achieving financial independence, freedom and success. To do that, I need to take care of my mental and physical health and I have daily routines that support that. I meditate and work out. By prioritizing myself, I am able to be my full self. It also serves my business because it means that I start my working day with intention and greater awareness. This might not work for you and that’s OK. You need to find the daily habits and routines that help you feel connected and fulfilled.
Here is another example from my business. I have always been consistent about my weekly podcast, even when I have not been consistent about other things. The podcast is what has helped me grow my revenue, even when I worked only part-time in the last two years. It is important that you stick to those consistent habits that will help you grow your business and support the lifestyle you want or need.
Over time you may find that you need to adapt these habits depending on your circumstances and as you learn and grow.
I hope these three big principles help you see how you can build a business that generates real revenue and works for you, your lifestyle and the pace you want to work at.
I would love to know if this resonates with you. If you download the free workbook, you will get my email address, so please get in touch. I will personally respond to each email.