Picture yourself driving down the road in your car.
You’ve got so many things to focus on at once. Kids in your car. Other drivers on the road. Your rear view mirror. Your side view mirrors. The speedometer, the gas gauge, the check engine light. The traffic lights. Road signs. Your destination. If you’re unfamiliar with the territory you’ve got to get in the right lane for the right exit. Feeling anxious at the thoughts? For most of us, driving is not a stressful experience. We’ve learned to juggle everything that needs our attention so we can successfully and safely drive our cars from point A to point B.
Running your business is a little like driving a car. At times it might seem hectic and overwhelming, especially for new business owners, but just give yourself some time and you’ll find your groove. Once you get your systems down it gets easier.
Let’s take this little car metaphor and apply it to your business focus. There are twelve “focus checkers” listed below.
Where did you begin your journey?
Take a few moments to remember where you began. When did you start your business? Why did you start your business? What was your dream?
What are you driving in? Got your bumper stickers?
The car we drive makes a statement. So must our businesses! Your business has got to have it’s brand. It should be recognizable and plastered everywhere. Bumper stickers, door magnets, window clings. Build your brand and then surround yourself with it.
Who else is in your car?
Sometimes we forget that in building a business we’re not the only ones affected. Our spouses and our children are in this ride along with us. Remember them. Take time to stop and evaluate the way the business is affecting your family. Make changes if you need to. The journey should be fun and rewarding for everyone involved.
Are you wearing your seat belt? Carrying proper insurance?
Do you have a safety plan for your business? Just knowing what will happen when you’re sick or have a family emergency can relieve stress in your day to day operations. Even if your back up plan is as simple as finding out how to setup an auto-responder for incoming email to let people know you’ll be out of the office for a day or two, put some sort of plan together. Then put it in writing so someone else can care of this for you if you have an emergency situation.
Checking the rear view mirror?
Where have you been? Evaluate your last year. Did your business grow? Did it grow in the direction you wanted it to? Or did it overwhelm you? Look at what you did right. Look at what you wish you could change. Consider it all a learning experience and allow it to help you guide your business in the coming year.
Looking at your side mirrors?
Who else is on the road you’re on? Who are your surrounding yourself with? Be careful who your friends are. You need to surround yourself with people who will inspire and encourage you!
Do you have gas in your car?
Is the gas tank full? Or is it empty? When was the last time you took a few minutes for you. Just for you. Every day you need time to recharge. You cannot give what you do not have. All work at home parents understand the “running on empty” feeling. I encourage you to plan time into your day, even if it’s only 5 minutes, to step back and relax. Be thankful. Appreciate the good things in your life. And focus on one day at a time.
Check your speedometer!
Working from home can take over your life. It can become a 24/7 obsession. Stop. Yes, it’s great to be passionate about your business. But remember who else is in that car and if you need to slow down, then slow down. Of course on the opposite end, if you’re not moving, then get that car moving! No one else is going to build your business for you if you aren’t working.
Is your check engine light on?
Have you heard the saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail?” If your businesses doesn’t have a solid plan behind it, it’s going to sputter, it’s going to choke, and it’s going to be a constant struggle. It doesn’t have to be! Check what’s “under the hood” of your business. Get a business plan together. It doesn’t have to be long or complicated.
The traffic lights are everywhere.
Stay open to the signs around you. To grow your business and be successful you need to be in tune with the stop, go, and wait signals. There are times it’s important to slow down. Other times you may see a new market or a need of your niche that you can pursue. Don’t be afraid to go when it’s green!
Watch the road signs along the way.
Do you know what road signs you are looking for? You need measurable goals. Not just “I need to survive until next month.” You need to THRIVE, not just survive. Write down one goal for your business or personal/family life this month. Make it realistic. That’s the road sign you’re watching for next.
Are you at your destination?
I encourage you to rethink this concept completely. Life is not in reaching the destination, it’s in the journey. Your business should be something that you are passionate about and that you enjoy. So focus on your journey. One step at a time. Breathe.
About the Author:
Michelle Shaeffer, The Small Business Muse, publishes The Muses Brainstorm, a weekly ezine with tips to help you balance, manage, and market your home based business. With your subscription you’ll also receive access to free gifts including 101+ Free/Cheap Ways to Market Your Business, 119 Things You Can Outsource, and more. If you’re ready for inspirational guidance and bright ideas sign up free at http://www.thesmallbusinessmuse.com.