Picture this: You're midway through the business year and you’ve already run out of steam. That invigorating enthusiasm you had in January is long gone. The year is wearing on and, perhaps, you're wearing out.
You begin to doubt your abilities to meet your goals. You wonder if you'll reach the revenue targets you meticulously planned. And you're daunted by the unexpected challenges you hadn't planned on when you started this year's journey. You feel you're running in wet sand, getting nowhere, wanting to just hang it up and call it all off.
But don't throw in the towel! You're probably not on your last count; you might just be in a slump. It happens to most everyone, and here's what successful entrepreneurs do to recognize it and pull themselves out of the rut.
The sooner you can say to yourself, 'Wow—I think I'm in a slump,' the sooner you can ask yourself the next important question: 'Gee, I wonder what has me down?'
Step 1. Acknowledge it
When you're feeling out of sorts in your work, sensing defeat at the start of each day, you need to acknowledge it. Slumps affect all business owners from one time or another; denying them does nothing to improve your situation.
Identify what the slump might be—that's the first key to fending it off. Maybe sales are lower than you expected? Maybe it's taking longer to get your work done? Maybe customers aren't giving you feedback, the sort that you thrive on to keep going each day?
Take time out to figure out why you're in the dumps about your business. The sooner you can say to yourself, "Wow—I think I'm in a slump," the sooner you can ask yourself the next important question: "Gee, I wonder what has me down?"
And, with that you can start fending off the slump.
Step 2: Make changes now
OK—you're in a slump. Now, what can you do about it? Doing is the most important of recovery. Wallowing in self-pity won't increase sales or improve your outlook; you have to act! The good news is that the mere activity of doing something about your situation begins to clear the fog around you.
Is that a slump or have you reached the promised land of sustainable activity?
You're taking control of your slump. That's tantamount in beating back the gloom and doom.
Identify what you need to change. Is there a process you need to simplify? Are there old products that just languish and need to be cut from your inventory? Is it that your customers aren't talking to you as much as they had? Isolate the elements of your sagging motivation then decide what you'll do about it—then get started doing something about it! The longer you put it off, the longer you'll remain in your slump.
Step 3. Reassess
One thing to watch for is whether you're rightfully in a slump. Sometimes, our slumps are the result of unreasonable expectations, on our businesses and on ourselves. Perhaps you had a meteoric rise to the top when you first started out; now that's leveled off some. Is that a slump or have you reached the promised land of sustainable activity?
Perhaps you were all the buzz in the social channels when you launched a new product but now the buzz has gone because you've achieved market presence.
Maybe you just don't seem to be as enthused about your business as you once were, those days when you could barely sleep because all you wanted to do is work, work, work—and you fed off that.
Oftentimes, when business goals are met, the activity and intensity of your work changes. You've crossed the finish line, so to speak, and what's wrong with that? Nothing.
Whatever the slump might be, take time to understand why you got into that situation
You might not be in a slump at all. You might have simply succeeded what you set out to do. If you're ready for more, then it's time to set new goals and put a new plan in place to get back on that upward climb. The point here is that many slumps can be resolved when you realize they're not slumps at all; you've just been super effective. Bravo!
Step 4. Learn
Whatever the slump might be, take time to understand why you got into that situation. Look for early indicators that could have warned you of the pending slump. Make note of those and watch for them as you go ahead. The worst thing you can do in building a good resistance to slumps is to do nothing at all.
If you repeat the things that got you in a funk, then be ready for your next slump. Only you can make sure it doesn't happen again.
Step 5. Expect the one
You can't expect to never encounter another slump in your business. Slumps come and slumps go. And then they come along again. You can take the above steps to minimize their impact to your business, but when you expect the next slump, you'll be in a better position to take fast action.
If you repeat the things that got you in a funk, then be ready for your next slump
Slumps are a part of doing business. They serve as a sort of barometer of how well you're doing in your endeavors. When they do come, they usually bring a wealth of good information you can use to bolster your business against adversity. It's that old adage where a good offense makes for a strong defense.
If you think you're in a slump right now, accept it, identify its causes and take action. Then be vigilant in watching for the next possible slide. When you do, you'll send those slumps packing and keep your business pumping merrily along.