Why you often need to take a step backwards before you can move forwards
We’ve all been there. You’ve strived for something, poured blood, sweat and tears into it, and then… a set-back. You start a business that’s over before it began. You build a brand for your business only to discover a massive flaw in the company name. You miss out on the house of your dreams. Whether in your personal life or your professional one, it’s devastating, and I’m not here to tell you otherwise.
What I am here to tell you is that often, these moments can turn out for the best. Furthermore, I would even go as far as to say that sometimes, in business, it’s important to engineer a step back.
Business moves fast. I know from personal experience how much of a challenge it can be to keep on top of everything – particularly if you’re a ‘one-man band’. It’s so easy to get stuck in a cycle of working late into the night just to tick off the to-do list, but barely scratching the surface. Scheduling social media posts. Replying to emails. Networking. Sorting your calendar. It never, ever stops. And it never will! But are you keeping an eye on the bigger picture?
Keeping on top of the day-to-day tasks is important, of course. But where do you see your business going? What are you striving for? And crucially – are you allowing yourself the time to not only think about these things, but also action them?
You could be directing your time to branching out into a new area. Or touching base with old clients/customers to see if you can entice them back. Or streamlining your processes to make your whole company more efficient.
Taking the time to stop and assess can be a game-changer. You may have to allow certain aspects of your daily ‘to-do’ list to take a back seat, but do not underestimate the power of reflection.
Coming from a teaching background, I have the ‘plan – do – review’ method etched into my brain. Every trainee teacher writes excruciatingly thorough lesson plans, teaches them, and then sits back to evaluate them, (often using another teaching methodology – What Went Well/Even Better If). Yet somehow, once we shed our fledgling feathers and become fully qualified, the ‘review’ part falls all-too-easily by the wayside.
It’s the same in business. You’re so set on building it up and keeping it going, that you forget to review how things are going.
If something isn’t working – whether it be your clients not engaging with your newsletter, or your Instagram not gaining fresh followers – don’t be afraid to change it up, even if it seems like going backwards, or undoing the hard work you’ve put in.
What’s more, not only can having a breather be beneficial for your business, but it can work wonders for your mental health too. It’s all too easy for business owners to get so bogged down with the daily grind that they forget who else they are – a Mum, a husband, a friend, and a human being in need of some self-care.
And here’s the best bit. For many, now is the perfect time. Christmas is just around the corner. The New Year, with all its ‘fresh starts’ and resolutions, is sitting just beyond.
So if you’re able to do so, press pause. Enjoy the mince pies and mulled wine. Relish the time with loved ones like the precious gem that it is, and take time for you.
Then, when you feel content, ready and refreshed, think about what lies ahead in the New Year for you and your business. What are your pinch points? What needs to change? How could it be better? Make an action plan and execute it. This will have you moving forward faster than you can say ''who drank all the Prosecco?".
Oh, and incidentally, the business that was over before it began? The fatally flawed company name? The dream house that was just out of reach? All me. (And the less said about the company name the better – let’s just say it didn’t read well!).
Those moments were tough. I lost time, money and a lot of patience! But if they hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be where I am today – running my own successful business as a Virtual Assistant, which I love and adore.
So, whether it’s engineered by you or happens by chance, remember this: sometimes you need to take a step backwards before you can move forwards.