Breathe New Life into Your Small Business
Many who know me, know that I have a business idea brewing at any given time, or I can turn a bad idea into a business. After reflecting a bit on this, I realized it’s helped me creatively think through how to grow a business from the ground up, but more importantly, how I can shape my current business into that new one. The exercise is straightforward, but the lesson I wanted to share is that keeping a business hat on, even when you don’t need to, can lead to critical thinking, push your creativity, and maybe just lead your business in a direction it needs right now. I’ll break down how to think this way, and what to expect as a result.
As a freelancer, I often have many ‘hooks in the water’ or lots of things on the go. I am often balancing multiple clients’ projects, jumping back and forth from files and emails throughout the day, and also new things on the horizon I either need to plan for, or have planned for. Point is, this brings with it a number of challenges. First, I need to be focused and organized so that deadlines are met and clients are happy, then, I need to keep the creative juices flowing to fuel new ideas and mix it up. Finally, I need to be energized to keep pushing myself (and my business) to achieve new things and create new things.
The issue is, I don’t always have amazing ideas, I don’t always ‘feel’ a project, I don’t always feel focused, and that’s okay. I’ll be the first person to recognize when I’m burning out like this, and I’m the only person who can do something about it. I am human, I need course correction sometimes, and I need to be a bit forgiving. Many creatives will agree, I’m sure, that we hit walls sometimes where we just need to refuel, re-energize, recharge and saddle up again. And there are times for that (there needs to be) – but I’m interested in the day-to-day recharging.
I’ve recognized that one of my natural ways to get my brain moving again, get that recharge going, and feel ready to jump back into projects is by keeping my business hat on when I least need it.
The Business Hat
I like to think of the business hat as a mindset where a few things happen. On an operational level, your business hat means you’re knee-deep in editing, recording, etc. and on an organizational level, it means you are thinking about how to market yourself for the upcoming wedding season, for example. But on a strategic level, your business hat can mean that you are thinking about the direction of your business, the long term plan for your business, maybe the new name of your business and branding. I’d encourage you to, for just a second, put on your business hat and think strategy. Remember what this feels like?
I’d say for a long time, I wasn’t considering the strategic part of my business hat because it was business as usual. Until I realized I don’t actually need to be thinking about my business for it to be effective – and to reap the rewards of new strategic ideas I probably never would’ve thought about. I’ll break down how this works (give yourself some time to do this optional, but awesome exercise):
Think about your favorite product or service
Come up with a creative way to sell it, or a unique way to offer it
Develop a name to suit (I like business names that are puns)
Flesh out, without writing it down, how the business works (how it sells it’s thing, how it markets itself, pricing, etc.)
Start to weave your skillset into the business
And when I say ‘stew’, I mean, sit on this idea for a couple of days. The first part of the exercise is done, but you’ll see the benefits soon.
Ok, Now What?
What you’ve accomplished at face value doesn’t mean much. But in that time, you’ve taken your brain out the workings of your business, on all levels, and put your creativity into something unrelated. And here’s where you can start to see the benefits unfold. By pushing yourself to ‘start’ a new business idea – you’ve forced yourself to be creative, and as a result, the ‘juices’ should be flowing again. These should not only positively impact your immediate work, but long-term, or at least over the next few days, give you something to feel stupidly passionate about and itch your brain for a bit.
But the greater benefit is in reflecting on your ideas. Is there a concept in there that you think could work for your business? Is there a technology you’ve been neglecting that this fake business is using to succeed? Did you come up with something that your current business might benefit from? There should be a ‘yes’ in there somewhere. I believe that on a subconscious level, this exercise, when properly done, should allow us to tap into ideas that ‘died’ somewhere along the way while building our current business.
The last benefit to this exercise, and (more importantly) this way of thinking, that is, keeping your business hat on, is that it asks us to think critically. When you’re looking at the world this way, you start to think critically about every business, it’s model, and how it’s run. You start to shape an idea of what you don’t want your business to look like, or how you don’t want it operated, as well as what you like in certain businesses.
Keeping your business hat on is all about trying to improve your business, and how it works, on a daily basis. It does not mean grinding from 4:30 am to 7 pm, working like crazy. It means being thoughtful about the experiences around you and allowing the positive ones to shape how you do business because it makes you feel good. And when your business makes you feel good, your clients will feel good, your energy should feel refreshed, you’ll be more creative because you’re still thinking about that stupid business idea that we came up with, and you’ll probably end up being more successful.
I’d venture to say that even on our best day, we, as business owners, will always have barriers that will be in our way of creating, feeling inspired, feeling creative, and feeling energized. We are human, and that’s allowed. The point is to minimize the downtimes, and keeping your business hat on frequently can help achieve that.
I sincerely hope you gave this exercise a try – it can be a lot of fun. I hope you can recognize and unpack the benefits of it in a fun, judgment-free environment. I also hope you enjoyed the read. If you’ve made it this far, you’ll probably like some of the other posts. I would wholeheartedly appreciate if you checked them out, and considered sharing them. You may have guessed by now that I too am just a small business owner, and I’m creating this with a lot of thought and a lot of love while looking Through My Lens.