Every year Quarter 4 comes. Lots of hopes hanging on to it. It was a really good time for me two years ago. All the sales were up. Statistics were up. Hopes were up. It really looked like I am on to something and I will be able to ditch my 9-5 job.
However, in the last couple of years, things have been stagnating somewhat. Numbers went down and it seems that I will have to start all over again. I know, Q4 is not over yet but the numbers don’t lie.
I think one of the hardest things is to stay motivated. If you are the only person in the business, you just have to rely on self-motivation. Of course, your family will support you but my guess is that most of the heavy lifting has to be done by you. So this is what helps me to do that:
- I recognise that there will be times when business stagnates. I am honest with myself while not being overtly pessimistic nor optimistic.
- I look at the current numbers and compare them with my stats from the previous years.
- I look at all things that I have changed during the year, ie. my business strategy, implementing new products etc.
- I look at my expences – did I spent more and what were the main expenses
- What was my workflow? Did I keep my routines? Did I procatinate a lot?
- Was I seduced by a ‘shiny thing’ that actually slowed me down and cost money?
- Which Quater was best and why?
- Which product sold most and why?
- Which social media was the most useful to me?
- What was happening in the industry in general (trends and influencers) and did I implement any of it or did I stay out of it?
Once I have all this information, I will start making radical decisions on what worked and what did not. I try to be as honest as possible as I know that will pay off in a long run. If I paint things too rosy, I might head off for a disappointment next year. If I am too pessimistic – that is not a good starting point to anything. So I am always aiming for a balanced view.
The hardest thing for me – is to drop things completely. Like a product I really like or I believed in. I think it is because over time I get attached to it. Not only because of the time I spent on it but because I genuinely believe that it is a good one. I often think of myself as a customer – and then it is really easy to fall in love with a product blindly. The truth is, if it did not sell, for whatever reason, I need to move on to something else, no matter how much I like it or I believe in it. I always find this bit rather sad – yes, business is an emotional affair for me. I am not able to look detach myself completely. It is always personal for me 🙂
Then I always streamline my work routine and cut it to a minimum. That way I know, it will be manageable and I still keep my motivation going. Also, I know, that during the year this routine will grow and grow and will be ready for trimming by the end of the year again. The work routine for Q1 is very bare. And I mean – VERY. Otherwise, I am not able to keep the focus, energy and motivation needed.
One more thing. I used to get very dispirited when I compared myself to others. Especially those, who were very successful. I thought automatically and rather naively, that I can do it as well. And of course, when I look at my numbers at the end of the year and compare them to the industry’s best – I am not anywhere close to them. What helps me here is reminding myself that most of the industry giants have been in it for many years – 10 and more! Some of them did not see any results for the first 2 or 3 years, yet they kept going. They have lot more resources, teams of people, freelancers and so on. So I look at them as an inspiration but I do not compare the numbers.
If your motivation dwindled, my friends. Don’t despair! It is normal. Especially during this time of the year. If you recognise it as a part of a process, you will be able to carry on. Wishing you all the best for 2022 and make it a great one 🙂