How does one draw success and fulfilment from their business? Running a business can be a lonely endeavour, especially when when you run into trouble. Seeking the right business support at the right time can ease a lot of pressure when you are struggling.
Starting a business is one of the biggest changes in life that you experience. It’s an emotional rollercoaster, believe me. Psychologists Don Kelly & Daryl Conner describe this experience as the ‘The Emotional Cycle of Change’. I love this term as it really sums up what it’s like to run a business. According to Kelly and Conner there are 5 stages of the Emotional Cycle of Change [as adapted by Brian Moran & Micheal Lennington]:
Stage 1: Uninformed Optimism. This is the most exciting stage. Full of optimism and hope, you are ready to take on the world.
Your business is up and running, you have the perfect name, the business cards and the website. You’ve even registered your business with Companies House and let HMRC know your tax status. And the icing on the cake… you’ve actually got your first customers! You ask yourself should you stop and take stock? You decide it is not the right time and plough on.
Stage 2: Informed Pessimism. Some time has passed and your business is chugging along.
You’ve been able to keep your existing customers, but unable to secure new ones. You ask yourself should you stop and take stock? You decide it is not the right time and plough on.
A little more time passes and you’re starting to get concerned, as even though you added the odd customer here and there, you’ve lost more than you have gained. Your suppliers have put up their prices and now financially you’re just about treading water. You ask yourself should you stop and take stock? You decide it is not the right time and plough on.
Stage 3: Valley of Despair. A long time has passed. You’ve had to put in a lot more hours, even more than before. You can’t afford not to, as otherwise you won’t earn a living wage.
You’ve never been able to get enough customers to grow your business or afford the little luxuries in life. In fact you’ve spent the last few years working to keep your increasingly financially unsustainable business going. This is the stage when most people quit.
You wonder when did things start to go wrong? You ask yourself if you should have stopped sooner and took stock? Is it even worth carrying on… maybe it’s time to quit?
All the pain of change is felt and the benefits of change feel unachievable. Stopping now will make the pain go away, it’s much easier to go back to a job with a steady income.
You decide to take stock and review your business. A business review looks at your business model and makes changes, if necessary, to make it viable. You also start to set short-term goals and implement your short-term plan.
Stage 4: Informed Optimism. You’ve decided to dig deep and carry on. You finally start to see results. You’re starting to feel good about your business.
Stage 5 – The Final Stage: Success and Fulfillment. At this stage you start to enjoy the benefits of change. The action changes that you previously found difficult have now become routine, and running your business becomes fairly straight forward.
So how can we stop ourselves sliding into the valley of despair? We can make change easier by getting support – mentoring helps us take stock of where we are. It forces us to ask the difficult questions about our business. Mentors help us break down our big vision into smaller goals that are easier to achieve, making the success of your business more attainable and sustainable.