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Broke to 6 Figures: How Enjoying the Journey Gets You to the Destination Faster

We all know entrepreneurship has its ups and downs, and that’s putting it mildly.

No doubt, you have days where you imagine ripping your laptop from its power source and throwing it through the window of your beautifully appointed downtown office the cheap café down the street. (However, if you actually did that, I’m not sure if this blog post will help you!)

And there are the months when you barely break even and start wondering if this whole entrepreneurship thing isn’t for you.

But I’m willing to bet you’ve also had days where you can hardly contain your excitement about what you’re building. Happy customers sharing posts about you on Facebook. Your best revenue month ever, and then setting a new record the month after that.

These are the moments why we do what we do. But when these moments aren’t so frequent, it can be hard to pick ourselves up and keep going.

As part of an informal mini-series called Broke to 6 Figures, I’m exploring some of the less tangible reasons why you might be struggling to start or grow your small business, calling you out on them, and then challenging you to tear those figurative obstacles down. Sure, you can use a sledgehammer, but your brain will work just as well. (And it’s less messy.)

Let’s explore some of the reasons you might be crying tears in your mochaccino this morning:

Why You’re Sometimes Not Happy in Your Business

  • You’re working too much
  • You aren’t passionate about what you’re doing
  • You’re not working with your ideal customers
  • You aren’t acknowledging your successes

Fortunately none of these issues are impossible to overcome, though it might seem like it right now. Every stressful moment or setback can be turned into a positive experience. And positive experiences, in theory, should make you happier.

Below are some helpful tips to combat the four issues that could be affecting your happiness (or lack of) in your business.

Ways to Get Happy

Be present. Is something nagging at you and keeping you from being productive or taking action on something you’ve been thinking about for weeks?

Stop everything and close your eyes. Take five deep breaths, and let yourself be just in that moment, nowhere else. Those five breaths alone can recharge you for the entire day. Sound a little out there? Maybe. But try it anyway, you’ll see.

Get to the root cause. When something is bugging us, we get stressed out. And when we get stressed out, we’re less likely to remember what it is that originally caused the stress because thinking about it often brings on more stress.

Break the vicious cycle by speaking or writing about your stress. It’s like a brainstorming activity. Keep writing down the things that bug you until you hit on the one thing that’s driving your negative energy more than anything else.

Then figure out how to deal with that one issue. Or if it’s too big to deal with right away, commit to taking one action today that sets you on the path to handling the cause of your business stress.

Take a break. When I get blue at my desk, I sometimes drop and do 20 push ups. Other times, I put on a favorite song, pump up the volume, and dance it out. Works every time. So does cake, for that matter. Cake is great.

But maybe dancing and sweets treats aren’t your thing? That’s cool. Even if it’s just stepping away from your desk and taking a few minutes to think about something else, take the time. Sometimes that’s all you need to gain some perspective.

Make a list. If you feel like you’re getting nowhere in your business, try making lists of really small tasks and actionable items. Then commit to finishing at least one of those items per day.

Personally, I’m a huge list-maker – I have a task list for each of my businesses, and another list for personal stuff. Sometimes I even nest lists within lists! (This is an advanced tactic that I recommend only if you don’t find lists overwhelming).

Every evening I circle one item on each list that I must complete the next day. If I get them all done before noon, then I circle another item. This often results in me getting several items off my list, including tasks that I didn’t circle.

That sense of accomplishment makes me feel happy.

Allow yourself to learn. So you had a client who was a total jerk face. Sure you could moan and complain over a margarita at the end of the week about how awful the experience was.

Or you could consider what brought that person into your life and how to evolve your business’s message to attract more of the right kinds of clients to your company.

In other words, allow a negative experience to teach you something about how to serve your best customers better. Bonus: You can still have that margarita.

Celebrate. Speaking of margaritas – let yourself have fun with this journey!

Even if you completely failed at whatever goals you set for last week, or last month or maybe even last year, there’s got to be something you did well – something you can talk about in a positive way that will create some motivation for you to create new goals and keep going.

Plan. Personally, I’m a planner. Plans get me hyped up about the possibilities and opportunities that lie ahead. Grab a piece of paper and make a short one-page business plan for the next 6-12 months.

Include your ideal customer avatar, up to three goals that will help you serve that customer avatar and also help you grow your business. And then add at least three things about your business that make you feel good.

The thing about entrepreneurship is that it really never ends. No matter your destination, it’s still just a resting place where you begin preparations to move on to the next destination.

If you’re broke today, and next year you have a six-figure business, your journey’s not over; you’ve just completed that leg. So it’s important that you have fun on that road.

Which leg of your entrepreneurial journey are you on, and how does it make you happy? I can’t wait to read your stories in the comments.

About Jessica Oman

Jessica's outside-the-box approach to business plan writing has helped her clients collectively raise almost $50 million in financing to start and grow new businesses. Sign up for her 5-part business plan training series for FREE here so you can get your business plan done and get your money sooner.

18 thoughts on “Broke to 6 Figures: How Enjoying the Journey Gets You to the Destination Faster

  1. Great tips, Jessica, I can relate both to being stressed out and solving fatigue or boredom with dance and cake 😀
    I found that one of the reasons for being unhappy in business was in my case undervaluing my skills/experience and undercharging for my services. It may look like a good idea when you get more clients (the ones who shop around for the cheap stuff) but it usually backfires…

    • Hi Grazina, I can totally relate – I did the exact same thing and it took a long time to bring my prices up to a really profitable level.

      Are you happier now? Do you feel your pricing reflects the value you provide? I hope you are rockin’ it now!

  2. Jessica,
    Great post. So many good points – it’s so easy to get lost in the weeds [head down just working in your business] and think working more and harder is the solution. I know I used to do that.

    As you point out it’s so important to step back, to take those breaks, make a list, and work with your ideal clients [of course, you have to have uncovered who they are first!]

    I love where you said: “next year you have a six-figure business, your journey’s not over; you’ve just completed that leg.”

    thanks again for the great post! As for margarita’s – the next one’s on me!

  3. Thanks, Jane! Just returned from giving a workshop I’m passionate about to a whopping 5 people, after spending weeks developing curriculum. I’m a list lover too and choose to bounce back, make some lists of how to attract my ideal clients, and eat cake! I appreciate your ideas.

    • Hi Karen, what was your workshop about? Did you at least get some great testimonials from those 5 people?

      Firepole’s ABM course and other resources will definitely help you find a program that your audience will love and buy, so the 5-person class doesn’t happen again (I’ve totally been there). Glad you’re raring to go again and create something people will rave about.

  4. Hi Jessica,

    It was trully inspiring to read. It’s so simple, but most of the time, we don’t think that ways and than we throw the computer by the window.

    Joss Whedon, who is a screenwriter and a movie director, said in an interview : ” When I find an idea I buy a chocolate cake. I’m like a monkey!”

    I will go give a look to your blog an see more of yours idea.

  5. Great article! I have found having routines is good for me. I spend an hour every morning walking my dog and focusing in that quiet time on what I should be doing next in my business. If I try to think in front of my PC, I can’t seem to focus as well.

    I love the cake idea, (although the 20 press ups would be necessary afterwards!). I refused to have a kettle in my office as it gives me an excuse to walk downstairs to the kitchen to make tea if I need a break for a moment or two.

    I did get a bit downhearted when someone wrote a blog post recently about chucking out the to do list and just getting stuff done, but you have made me feel much better. I love listmaking and I use Trello to plan out everything. That tool has radically changed my working life as I used to write everything on bits of paper. Best of all – it’s FREE!

    Looking forward to hearing more from you, you speak my language!

    • Yeah, you know lists are for some people and not others. For me a list (or two, or three) helps me focus and reduces my stress dramatically – I no longer have to let all my to do items churn around in my head; I can relax, because the reminders are on paper.

      Trello is a great tool – I haven’t gotten into it yet but I like how it works.

      Thanks for your kind words and I’m glad I’m speaking your language! Hope you’ve signed up with me as I’ve got lots more fun stuff to come.

    • Ha! Well a list is only good if you actually DO the things that are on it. As I mentioned in another comment, to do lists are a great stress management tool for me. Once it’s on paper, it doesn’t need to clutter my brain. Good luck!

  6. Thank you, Jessica for the tips here on enjoying the journey to success as an entrepreneur. Really enjoyed it and it was a great reminder. I am currently on the journey to making a profit for my media company/website and freelance business.

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