This is an article I wrote for our industry’s non-profit organization. While some of it is industry-specific, the concepts work for anyone, entrepreneur or not, when you start to feel trapped, in a rut, or unmotivated.
The dog days of summer are gone and soon we’ll be gearing up for another holiday shipping season. But often in this glamorous industry, we can get a little bedraggled, feel a little unmotivated, and just get plain weary. As entrepreneurs and small business owners, the ins and outs of managing our stores, employees, and customers can often seem a little much. So, what can we do when it feels like the riptide is pulling us under and the juggling of our many priorities has us wondering which ball we’re going to miss that’s going to hit us in the head?
First, take a deep breath. You’re human. And it’s normal to feel that way sometimes. But here are some suggestions that may help you get re-energized, catch your breath, and reset your mental mindset.
Conferences are a great way to get recharged, talk to fellow store owners, meet new vendors and generally get excited about the industry again. As I write this, we’re getting ready for the RS Expo in Dallas, and by the time this article is published, planning will be in high gear for the AMBC The Event in Phoenix in November. We promise to have a knock your socks off agenda that will give you energy and ideas not just for the upcoming peak season, but hopefully all year long.
Visit another store. When you’re on vacation, look up surrounding stores, and call or ask if you can stop by and visit. Or take an afternoon and drive thirty minutes to an hour to another store. That’s far enough away that they aren’t competitors but close enough to make it practical to visit. Every time I get the chance to visit another store, I learn something that I can take back to my store. I see the pluses and minuses of how they operate which knowledge helps me grow as a store owner. But more importantly, it enables you to talk to a colleague who understands the battles that you are fighting. This networking is the backbone of AMBC and #membershelpingmembers. And you never know when your visit may help the store you’re visiting. #giversgain.
Change up your store. We actually do this every few weeks, whether we’re feeling the blahs or on cloud nine. Move as much stuff as you can. Make it look different. Knock off the cobwebs and dust and you’ll be surprised how a fresh look (ever how minor), will breathe life into you and your customers. Inevitably, when we move something, we’ll have a customer question how long we’ve offered that product or service. We smile and say from the beginning. But it’s something they apparently didn’t realize, so it’s like gaining a new customer.
Actually, add a new product or service. Conferences are great for finding new things. But everyday life can provide opportunities if we are looking for it. Just last year, we saw a really cool handmade soap company that was really funny at a university bookstore. We contacted them and it has become a very popular line. We’ve expanded with several of their other products and are very happy to have made the discovery. Be willing to try something new. You’ll find that bringing a new product or service will force you out of your lethargy. Concentrating on marketing your new service will give you something positive to focus on. And that’s what we’re shooting for here. Positive energy.
Change up your routine. Take a brisk walk or jog or bike ride in the morning. Go to a gym. Exercise is a great way to help your physical energy which will, in turn, help your mental energy. Feel better and look better. Worst case, when things are a little slow do some squats or torso twists. Get the blood flowing during your workday. Listen to an audiobook on your commute. There are many great motivational authors or find a subject you want to learn about. I listen to several coffee roasting and social media podcasts instead of top 40 radio. Always be learning – it will keep your mind sharp and fresh. Set aside a time to unplug. Turn off all the voices and devices that compete for your attention. Maybe it’s on the walk you’ve started taking. Facebook will still be there when you get back. It’s important to find a way to just be and meditate without the glow of a TV or phone.
Lastly, find a way to take a vacation from your store. These are our babies and we all know that they won’t operate well or long without us at the helm. But find a few days and know that you can fix whatever goes wrong when you get back. As much as we are dedicated to our stores, we have to be equally dedicated to our families, and even more so to ourselves. I hope to see you in Phoenix and we can discuss this even further.