Whether you're a startup solopreneur or a super side hustler, you're in there for the long haul. For richer, for poorer. Just you and your business against the world. Right?
Your business is really, a relationship. And relationships take work! Yes, it's a relationship between you and your customers, but it's also between you and that thing you do. And, like any relationship, you can go through the odd rough patch.
There will be moments - probably about 1am on a Saturday morning, when everyone else you know is rolling home from a great night out, and you're still at your desk - when you're going to ask yourself "Where's all the romance gone?"
So, how do you stay in love with the business you've built (or are building) for yourself?
Think about your Ex
By which, we mean your ex-employer. Why did you leave them and embark on your own adventure in the first place? Was it a toxic business relationship? Were they all about the "me-me-me"? If so, you did the right thing - you got out!
Think about how far you've come - what you've achieved. If it helps, compare yourself to the Sliding Doors version of yourself - the alternate-reality person who didn't quit, who just sucked it up, kept their head down, and stayed in that toxic relationship.
How great is it to not be that person?
Let's just be friends
Even solopreneurs know that no businessperson goes it entirely alone.
Everyone needs the support of friends, family and fellow side-hustlers. People who will listen and understand when your obsession seems to have betrayed you. People with whom you can crack open a bottle and pour out your heart.
You might also need some professional advice - there's no shame in it. Get yourself a mentor! Follow the right people on social media, do some networking, and learn from the best. Everyone needs mentors. If taking advice from wise older dudes was good enough for Luke Skywalker and Frodo Baggins ... It's good enough for you!
This will help you keep your relationship with your business fresh and exciting.
Put the spark back
Take some you time. Seriously - take a break. What's the worst that can happen? A change of scenery for a few days, or a weekend with the phone switched off. Spend some time with the people you’re in relationship with!
This can give you some perspective on what you do - put some spark back into your business. So, treat yourself to some quality time.
Have you tried meditation? Seriously - if you're not into the whole lining-up-your-chakras deal - spending ten or twenty minutes a day focusing on your breathing and nothing else, can really clear all the baggage out of your head. Headspace is a great place to start with this. It actually has packs that are designed around the needs of work!
Going to the gym, for a swim, taking yoga classes, even walking the dog can be a great way of getting away from the phone/computer/desk for a while. It's important you don't feel trapped in your relationship with your business!
Keep it fresh
Be aware that the economy changes - customers' needs change and, therefore, your business might have to change. Embrace it. Roll with it. Anything that keeps your business fresh and exciting is a good thing.
When a job has worked well - take some time to think about the process you went through. Write some notes, create some templates - write yourself a script for your pitch, if that'll help. That way you won't have to keep on reinventing the wheel - instead, you can concentrating on tooling it for the needs of each new client.
If you're hiring freelancers, or staff, they'll feel the love you've put into the clear guidance - and you're likely to get better work back from them.
Your client is your best friend
They might exasperate you sometimes - but your customers are spending their hard-earned money on you. So, it's only right that you work hard at earning it!
After all, a business relationship takes work. If you don't love your customers, you can't give them your best work, and they deserve your best! Also, if you love what you do, some of that will rub off on your customers and, you never know, they might love your work too!
Love is its own reward
Except you can’t keep the lights on with love. So pay yourself. That's right - if you want your clients to value your time and effort, you have to value it yourself. Put yourself on your own payroll. You wouldn't expect your staff to work for free ... So don't expect yourself to. Just because you love what you do, doesn't mean you have to do it for love.
It's hard to keep motivated during those long nights and difficult client conversations, if your pockets are empty.
Also - since we’re talking money - get yourself a good, qualified accountant! Don't spend your time sweating the numbers, when there are people out there who would love to do that for you. A good accountant can save you money in ways you wouldn't think of for yourself. They can also explain how paying yourself a wage could reduce your tax bill!
So, this Valentine's Day - and every day - show your business how much you love it - by making sure your relationship is strong enough to go the distance.