I was discouraged.
I was down.
Things had happened that made me doubt myself, my abilities, and whether or not I should have started this crazy entrepreneurial journey in the first place.
What was it that made me want to quit?
I had a client cancel his subscription to my service. Then another one. Then another one.
Three customers in a row bailed out.
Just when I thought I’d been doing a really good job.
To be honest, I saw the first one coming.
The business had been growing pretty rapidly and I’d been scrambling to keep up with the workload, trying to create systems, and bring others on to help – all at the same time.
It was during that time frame that I’d made a handful of mistakes on that particular client’s work. I made the mistakes, not my team. Me.
Strange how that happens... all of the mistakes happening on one client’s account. If they’d been spread out over 2 or 3 clients I don’t think I’d have lost any of them. I’ll say a bit more about that in a bit…
So, that’s how it all started, how I began wondering if I should quit my business.
Then the second client canceled her subscription, and a third just on the heels of that.
You can imagine the state my mind was in then… have you been there before?
- What am I doing wrong?
- Maybe I’m no good at this?
- Maybe I shouldn’t have taken the risk of starting my own business in the first place.
- This isn’t going to work.
What should you do when you hit that point? And if you haven’t hit that point yet – you will. I’m pretty sure of it.
What to do when you want to quit your business?1 Get some space from the issue
I’ve learned the hard way that I don’t make good decisions or good assessments when I’m in the pit of despair.
I’ve got to get some space, get away from the situation for a bit so that I can look at it unemotionally, even dispassionately.
I want to see what’s really happened, not what I feel has happened.
When I did that, here’s what I was able to see…
- The first client’s issues were entirely my fault. I made mistakes. He lost trust in me and trust is the most valuable thing I can give a client. Completely understandable.
- The second client was reorganizing his business and decided that podcasting didn’t fit into his plans. OK. That kind of thing happens in any type of business. Nothing I can do about that.
- The next client was in the middle of some heavy life issues (two deaths in the family within a month). It makes sense that they’re offloading non-priority things. Again, nothing I can do there.
Somebody once told me…
THAT is good advice. I’m glad I thought clearly enough to that in this situation. I’d highly recommend it for you too.
Get some space.2 Don’t be afraid of the possibility that it might be quitting time
There’s always the possibility that the LORD is using a difficult or discouraging circumstance to redirect me. I’m learning not to be afraid of that possibility.
After all, maybe I’m not cut out to be an entrepreneur or business owner. Maybe I made a mistake in my initial decision to take on something like this. If I’m going to live a humble life, I’ve got to be open to that possibility.
In the end, if God shows me that I shouldn’t be pursuing a course of action, or a business – that’s a GOOD thing, even if I don’t think it is at the time. He’s got my best in mind, always. I can rest in that.
So I spend some time in prayer and I seek the counsel of spiritually wise people I respect to determine if the discouragement is a course-correction I need to heed (quitting the business), or nothing more than an obstacle I can learn from and overcome.
Prayers for wisdom work. God promises they do.3 Go into learning mode
If I get through steps one and two and feel I should remain where I’m at, it’s time for me to assess what I did to contribute the the problems that occurred.
I already mentioned that I’d made mistakes on the first customer’s service. Three mistakes in close succession. What do I do with that?
A) I need to own it.
There’s nothing wrong in admitting that I made a mistake. In fact, you can’t move forward until you do. I owned the mistakes – inwardly and outwardly. I contacted the client and admitted the mistakes clearly and openly, and apologized. I told them the steps I was taking to correct the problems and asked if there was any way I could continue to provide the service they’d originally hired me for.
They said, “No thanks.”
But I did what was right by owning my own mistakes.
B) I need to to consider God’s role in the issue.
The way I look at this situation, God’s hand was clearly in it. He could have prevented me from making three mistakes, all on the same client account. He could have made the mistakes minor instead of major in the client’s eyes. He could have retained the client for me after I made apologies.
But He didn’t.
I have got to trust that God knows what He’s doing, that He’s got great purposes in what has happened. It’s His business, after all, not mine.
I’ve got to learn to rest in Him, even in a disappointing time like this.
C) I need to pinpoint “how” the mistakes happened and tweak my procedures to avoid the same mistakes in the future.
I’m not being a good manger, a good steward of the business if I allow that to happen.
So I make adjustments to the way I do things – my systems, to avoid the same errors happening repeatedly. If needed, I make sure the adjustments are communicated to my entire team so everyone knows how to avoid a potential problem.
In this case, I was open with my team about my mistakes so that they could learn from them. Not only does that model the kind of behavior I want to see in my entire team, it also builds trust in me as a leader.4 Revisit your purposes for being in business in the first place
– it’s time to refocus.
So I spend some time reminding myself why I’m doing this thing called business:
- I’m providing for my family
- I’m creating things that will benefit people
- I’m doing all that in ways that uniquely fit me
- I’m maintaining a lifestyle of freedom and availability to my family that I believe God wants me to have
- I’m gleaning experience that can help others (through this blog, my coaching, and other things)
I have to remember that once-upon-a-time I was pumped about this thing I call “my business,” and remind myself that I still am – even when discouraging things happen.5 Get to work
For me, it’s vital that I not sit in the discouragement or the inaction that it may have spawned, for too long.
Once I’m convinced that I’m still on the right track, I’ve got to get moving again.
I truly think that’s vital. If you don’t get moving again, quickly – the doubt and fear has time to re-creep into your soul, and it can be devastating the second-time around.
The week after I got the last of those cancellations I…
- sent out over 250 marketing emails to prospective clients
- I dove into the creation of a new mini-course I’m making for this website
- I started into the final edits on my second novel
In other words… I got busy.
What if you don’t feel like getting busy? What if it’s extremely hard? What if you feel like you can’t?
- Pray, asking God for the strength you need.
- Believe that He’ll answer your prayer.
- Begin acting on your belief. In other words – get busy.
Discouraging times are a “mindset battle”
Whether you actually quit your business or not, you have to win the battle over discouragement. As a believer in Christ you have to learn to overcome the “down” feelings and thoughts that threaten you. Depending on your unique past, this battle may be harder for you than others.
But it’s still a battle you have to fight – and win. It’s a battle that is vital because it has to do with how you think.
How you think will dictate the course of your life in time, so you have to win the battle against discouragement.
One battle after another, after another and you will build the spiritual and emotional muscle you need to get past the wrong beliefs and feelings that tend to hold you back in life.
It’s a battle where you can’t give up. You can’t quit. Even if you do decide that it’s time to throw in the towel on your business.
So grab your Bible and fill yourself up with truth. Do it daily if you have to (and most of us do).
Keep at it until you see light at the end of the tunnel. Keep at it. The LORD will be there to meet you.