After a Business Breakdown

by Barbara Saunders

Get Your Business Back on the Road

Every business has ebbs and flows. That’s part of nature. It takes a lot of energy to run a business. Sometimes it’s natural to go into a ‘dormant’ stage so you can store up energy for a forward thrust. But if you’ve had a total breakdown, you’ll need a little extra effort to get yourself back on the road.

Relax, you’re in good company.

The first thing you need to do is lighten up. Don’t kick yourself because something didn’t work. Walt Disney was fired from his first newspaper job because they said he had ‘no imagination’. Fred Astaire was turned away from the first movie musical production he tried out for because they said he was ‘too skinny and couldn’t dance’. And Oprah was fired as a news anchor because they said she “wasn’t fit for television.”

Working for yourself is putting you ‘out there’ in a big way and when it doesn’t work, it can be devastating. It can leave you feeling worthless, humiliated and like a failure. Especially as a solo, that can be hard to deal with. Isolation can be deadly.

Get your Triple ‘A’ club in place now.
My first counsel is to be sure you’re surrounded by other upward- and forward-thinking solos. Meet regularly in masterminds or just for coffee. These must be people that you trust and feel you can share with. Quality trumps quantity here. Stay away from complainers, whiners, downers, blamers and drains. This is important and your family may not (translate: DEFINITELY NOT) be the best resource for this. A good business coach is indispensable for support and direction or retraining. This is NOT the time to skimp or hold back.

Pull over and step out of the vehicle.

You need to get a little distance so you can calm down. A little perspective can do wonders. Assessing the situation from a distance allows you to look at all sides. The most important thing is to not allow a breakdown to define you. Part of the ‘distance’ you’re looking at is into the Past, as well as into the Future. When you observe the entire timeline of your life, you’re more likely to see that this ‘breakdown’ is just a minor speed bump and not an insurmountable dead end.

Remember this: At ALL times, YOU have the power of choice.

Being a Solo Pro is a road to self discovery. Breakdowns give you the opportunity for the greatest self discovery. Dig into it and be willing to allow change to happen. (FYI: Change is going to happen – might as well go along with it). Review what didn’t work. What could you have done differently?

Consider other models.
While you’re at your breakdown situation, take a few moments to assess your business model. You may have done everything right; things that have worked for others perfectly, but they didn’t work for you. Add yourself back into the equation. You are unique and your strengths and talents may not be the greatest fit for that model. Be open to exploring other models that might fit you better – or make one up that just fits YOU.

Get back on the road.
In business, momentum is essential. Get back in the game. Remember that business is a game that you must be present to win. Don’t sit and stew over the breakdown. Identify what went wrong, fix the problem and get right back out there. I can’t stress enough how important ‘speed’ can be in getting your business back on the road. Here’s why: when you sit and focus on the breakdown, that becomes ALL you can think about. It becomes imprinted on your consciousness. The breakdown will be the first thing you think of when you do try to make a move. It’s at the root of self sabotaging behavior. Instead, when you get right back in the game, the breakdown recedes from a position of importance. As you move forward, it will fade as all of your great ideas take its place.

One last word: FEAR.
Even once you feel that you’ve fixed the problem, fear can immobilize you. Don’t let it. Remember that you are the DRIVER. Fear is just like a ‘check engine’ light on your dashboard. After a breakdown, your subconscious mind is running a check of its systems. That check engine light will go off when it realizes that you’re OK. And you ARE OK.

If you’re still feeling that your breakdown has knocked you too far off course and you can’t possibly get back on the road, I want to invite to take a moment and watch this video of Steve Job’s ‘Connecting the Dots’ talk. Remember that it’s the breakdowns on the road of life that eventually help determine where we end up.

Author Info: Barbara Saunders is a publication designer and has run a successful solo pro business for more than a decade. She is the Solo Pro Success Coach and the Director of the International Association of Self-Employed Communication Professionals and the Solo Pro Academy. She also hosts the Solo Pro Radio show everyday at 10am Pacific and 1pm Eastern It’s our mission to build community and help creative solo pros build and run successful businesses by providing support, innovation, tools, and strategies. Our goal is to liberate our members from the feast and famine cycle.

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