Some people are content to make it up the ladder in a respectable company and, when they finally hit upper management, rest on their laurels. To each her own. But frankly, I’m not one of those people, and I’m guessing neither are you.
For the rest of us who are building a business from the ground up, the path isn’t as linear. And when you do finally define what the next step is, it can feel utterly impossible to accomplish. I mean, how can you take your business to the next level if you feel like you’re already working your butt off 100% of the time?
Here’s the truth: If you’re telling yourself you’ll take the next big step when you have more time, the next step will never happen. It’s Parkinson’s law—your current work will expand to fill whatever available time you have. In order to take the next step, you have to make it a priority now.
If you want your business to grow, you are the only one who can make it happen.
How to un-stagnate yourself and your business
If you’re a small business owner, your business growth is 90% dependent on your personal growth. The more you understand about your industry and about yourself, the better you’ll be able to guide your business. And similarly, if you’re so caught up in the day-to-day of your business that you don’t have time to be learning, you’ll start to feel like you’ll never be able to take the next step.
So here’s my challenge for you: Read this list. Pick out the activities that sound the most doable to you and reserve time this week just for learning. Then, understand that no one is going to give you time to do it. You have to seize that time for yourself.
Here’s how to keep growing:
Blogs, books, workshops, videos, podcasts… If you’re reading this, you’re already on your way. But focus. What do you need to learn to make your Next Step a reality? Hone in on educational content, inundate yourself with new information. Most people don’t realize how much they can accomplish simply because they’ve never seen anyone close to them do it. So break the system. See what the greats are doing, learn how they do it, try it for yourself. Repeat.
Write every day
Business plans, dreams, blog articles, goal lists. I was drop-dead inspired by this Medium article that suggests keeping a daily journal. Not the high school crush-type journal, but rather a tool for keeping a keen eye on your goal. Write for 5 minutes every morning about what you’re trying to accomplish. Even if you don’t consider yourself the “writing type,” I promise you this: It will move you forward. Writing forces you to organize all the disjointed thoughts that you don’t have time to sort through during the workday. Don’t worry about perfection. Get your thoughts on a page, and you can refine them later.
Change your environment
Your inner life mirrors your outer life. Cluttered desk? Ugly wall paint? Whether your like it or not, the way you feel about your workspace affects the way you feel about your business. To take your business to the next level, you have to create an environment that makes your goal feel attainable. Browse some workspace ideas on Pinterest for inspiration. Get a desk plant, or five—they’re good for you. Is your workspace at home nothing more than the kitchen table? Get out of the house and try working from a coffee shop. It’ll give you an instant I am so urban and classy mindset makeover.
This is a Next Step in itself, but one that will open doors across the board. What can you pass off to someone else to free up more time? Practice letting go of a piece of your business. And then let go of more. Hire a social media manager, an accountant, an assistant—whatever part of your business that you find yourself putting off, hire a specialist to take over. Growth takes investment. When you invest in good people who can keep the machine running smoothly, your time is freed up for loftier projects.
Learning should never end with school. Start working toward that goal today, and the future will work itself out.