Business moves through different phases – fact. It’s natural that you, the business owner, will have an emotional response to the peaks and troughs you experience as your business grows.
The early days are full of fun and ambition - you will conquer the world and you’ll reap the benefits of more free time, less stress, and greater rewards. But what if things don’t quite go to plan. The three-year plan becomes a five-year plan, the five years become ten, and then… You’re not quite sure what happens next!
From an energy perspective, it’s not surprising that your journey can feel like an emotional roller coaster. You go from happy to sad; content to hungry; in control to overwhelmed as your business grows.
Experiencing this in my first business, it wasn't a surprise when I took stock and analysed what was happening. I realised that there were definitely times that I wasn’t a happy boss/leader for my employees to follow. You are the person that everyone feeds from and my emotions affected everyone around me. If I was going through a rough time, then employees, and by extension the business, would be too.
I soon learned that personal energy becomes company energy.
For directors, CEOs, and MDs, energy is sooooo important. From the early start up days, to the decision to have a lifestyle or performance business, both drive and positivity propel the business forwards, but negativity, worry, and stress weigh heavy, and drag the business backwards.
Personal Energy Becomes Company Energy
It’s important to remember that everyone feeds off the senior management team. So if the person or team at the top is stressed, fighting, overwhelmed and unhappy, then no shocker - it’s likely everyone else will be too.
It means that negative emotions come to define a business and its culture. Instead of bright eyed forward thinking employees, you’ll be working with people who keep their heads down, and who don’t feel free to get on with their work. It leads to a lack of purpose, the business stalling, and results in more internal issues to deal with. Yuck…
Even if you still manage to meet the business goals, it comes at a cost. No one is happy to work there, so there’s no pride in succeeding. Instead there’s just relief. People are scared to fail, and that doesn’t lead to employees who are inspired to take risks and excel.
But even if that's where you are, now you have the key to get things back on track. You just have to acknowledge that negative feelings may not be due to everything around you, it could just be time to adjust your own state of mind.
From Pessimist to Optimist
So how do you get started when all you want to do is bury your head in fixing the day to issues affecting your perspective?
Take a time out, catch your breath, and remember what you wanted to achieve in the first place.
Be really strict with yourself and consider the hard questions:
- Lifestyle? Or Performance?
- Do I need help?
- What do you enjoy doing and why are you not having fun with your business at the moment?
Have You Lost Your Drive?
Part of what makes a business environment negative is a lack of drive. There has to be a clear goal, an end result that everyone can work towards. Most of that vision comes from where you see the business going.
There are two immediate options: a lifestyle business, or a high performing one. Both types present challenges, and both types have different rewards. It's ok not to rule the world, but you do need to get back on track. So clarify your goals, and rediscover your purpose.
Do you really want the extra hassle of opening up that new office? Why are you the one doing the accounts when this is not your skill set? Be honest with your employees and share out some of your stresses. The funny thing? They’ll stop being stresses for you, and by giving out these tasks to more qualified employees, you’ll notice a marked increase in the quality of the work. Others will see areas where they can help, and what’s more, they may really enjoy it too!
Your Business’ Journey
If you have a look at the above graph you can see what I’m talking about. After the early start up days, there’s a long period dubbed the ‘struggle zone.’ For many business leaders, this is the period that leads to stress and negativity.
But, with the right sort of perspective, this can be avoided. If you’re targeting a lifestyle business, then you have to keep that end goal in mind. Make sure all your employees including you get a great lifestyle out of it! Your goals should be clear and the rewards should be shared out with the people helping you to achieve them. Or, if you’re driving a performance business, manage expectations and remind employees that the business will go through challenging periods before success. But, if you were clear with them to begin with, the growth and accelerated career journey is one of the reasons they joined, and this shared purpose will see you all through some of the more difficult times.
If everyone knows the end goal, then teething pains can be anticipated. But it’s also down to how you as the leader handle those issues as they arise, and how you keep the morale of the business high.
That means that as a leader, you have to keep positivity at the forefront of your mind.
Love Your Work - It's Infectious
The key thing to remember? If you’re not enjoying your work, no one else will. So, surround yourself with the right sort of people, ones who share your ideals, and who are invested in your goals. Know your direction, and work with people who will get you there.
In my first business I needed help, and it took me some time to see the wood from the trees. But I am glad that I did as the results allowed me a successful exit, to move on, create a new business, and use what I’d learned to start afresh (but with more positivity!).
Every day shapes you and each day is a school day. Be positive! Define your goals early on, and make sure your employees know where you’re headed. Times will be tough, there will be long stretches that can lead to disillusionment, but that’s where you come in. As a business leader you have the ability to determine your energy and how it comes across. This in turn influences the emotions of your staff. Use your powers for good - or at least, be happy, driven, and purpose-led.
Positive energy is the magic sauce. It’s the thing that makes everything possible. So work hard. Keep the bigger picture in mind, ask for help and most of all find a way to enjoy running your business.
All due respect to business owners out there - if it was easy everyone would do it :)
Image 1: Designed by Freepik
Wendy McDougall is Chief Fish of Firefish Software. In her spare time, you'll find her playing squash or feeding her inner geek with the latest technology!