Do you feel lost with your business? Click to download the free Strengths & Weaknesses worksheet and take charge of your business again!

This is a statement I’m hearing more and more from the people who contact me for mentoring advice. In many cases these are people who are perfectly capable and have been running their business for some years already. There’s just something that’s happening in the creative business world at the moment, which is making these bright, talented people doubt their business skills.

Do you ever feel like you don’t know what you’re doing? Was there a time when you felt confident in your abilities and lit-up by your passion for your business? A time when you felt invincible and unstoppable. Do you remember how that felt? It might have been a few years ago, or last week, but once you hit an overwhelming period that sharp focus you once possessed feels like a lifetime ago.

Sometimes it can seem that the world, and the market, around you is moving at a speed you just can’t keep up with. There are new platforms, new software, new voices and new techniques that pop up every day, and with every new thing you feel you need to master, you start feeling more and more like you’re scrambling to keep up with the times.

I was just watching Caitlin Bacher on Periscope last night talking about the mistakes people make when asking for advice in Facebook groups, and how acting ‘shifty’, whether intentionally or accidentally, can permanently damage your reputation online. It got me thinking how much running your business has changed as our ways of communicating have evolved hand in hand with the internet. While the online world has given us a lot bigger market to play in, it’s also exposing us in ways that would have been incomprehensible even just 10 years ago.

Everything you do as a business owner these days leaves marks. From a consumers point of view that transparency is, of course, a great thing. But for someone trying to find their way through a maze of information and marketing methods, that same transparency can leave you feeling very vulnerable and afraid of taking any wrong steps.

Unfortunately, at the same time taking wrong steps is a crucial part of growing, both as a person and as a business owner. There is just no way anyone can promise to give you a perfect formula that will absolutely make you successful in a mistake-proof way, without you having to try a few different routes and failing at a couple of different ideas. And yet, everywhere you look you see promises of ‘easy success’ and ‘fool-proof formulas’. The easier it feels to jump in, the bigger the overwhelm later on when you realise nothing worthwhile comes easy.

These two things combined, the transparency of running a business in a world that is online, and the inherent need for making mistakes in order to grow, can leave you feeling rather paralysed.

If you’re feeling like you don’t know what you’re doing right now, here’s what I want you to do next.

1. Go back and look at the work you’re most proud of

Sometimes it’s good to remind yourself of your talent, and why you running a business is a great service to those who hire you. Go through your old portfolio or blog posts to remind yourself how you used to feel, and why the work you do matters. You might even realise that you are much better right now than you were at a time that in your mind feels like your most successful period. Chances are you have grown since then, both in talent and in knowledge, so you are actually a lot stronger right now than you ever were.

2. Read through your favourite feedback from clients

You know, the people who really matter to your business. Find thank you emails that really touched you (I know you have them marked and archived, I sure do) and re-read them. Leaf through the cards you might have gotten and saved. Reply to some, not to sell anything, but just to catch up and see how they are doing. It’s amazing to get to feel like you’ve played a small positive part in someone else’s life, and keeping in touch once in a while makes you feel more like a part of a bigger purpose.

3. Refresh your business plan

The quickest way to regain a sense of control over your business is to actually take that control back yourself. Instead of hiding your head in the sand, hoping that someone will feed you that vital piece of information that will make all the difference, be proactive and face the challenge of knowing your business, your market, and your goals thoroughly. You can use the free business plan template to do that, or if you want more support, I talk you through the whole process in the 30-day Business Plan Refresh course. If you think refreshing your plan sounds boring, you have definitely forgotten how exciting planning for the future of your business can be. It's not just about filling in a necessary document, it's more about taking control of where you want to be heading.

4. Take a break from new information

Yes, even from this blog… I know, I’ll be sad to not see you for a while either, but I trust that you’ll be back with a refreshed focus. It’s just that in this age of information overload, it’s way too easy to slip into consumer mode, where you just take on more and more information, hoping that some of it will stick, without actually taking any action. So set yourself a time limit, perhaps a week, or even a month, where you don’t consume any new information, but instead start implementing all the things you have crammed into your head and on your Evernote. I’ll be here when you get back.

5. Write down your goals

Go back and read last week’s post about goal-setting and download the worksheet to help you with setting attainable goals. I can’t stress how important this is, especially at times when you are feeling like you’re grappling in the dark. I'm currently taking my own advice and setting goals and targets for next year. This year has been about big transitions for me, which has meant having to be patient with myself and with the things I want to be doing. But I feel like next year will be the year where all the groundwork for many things, and not just business related goals, will start to kick into gear. And the clearer my goals and strategy gets, the more excited I get about the things to come.

6. Take a step back

Sometimes, you just need to reset yourself completely. Remember that, even though it might feel like it, running a lifestyle business is not a race to the top. Don’t put the pressure on yourself of competing against how someone else is doing, or fearing that you’ll be viewed as a failure if you take a slower route on your journey. There are only two things that keep us blindly banging our heads against the wall when what we should be doing is to take a step back and reassess. Those two things are financial pressure and pride.

If you’re feeling under financial pressure, see if you can generate enough of an income in some other way, perhaps even by cutting down your expenditure, in order to give you more breathing space. If you feel like you have to keep ploughing on into the unknown because your pride would take a hit and you’d feel like you ‘gave up’ otherwise, have a word with yourself. You have one life, and what you do with it should matter to you, not what other people think you’re doing with it.

7. Audit your strengths & weaknesses

One of the quickest ways to start feeling like you don’t know what you’re doing is trying to execute a blueprint or a strategy based on someone else’s strengths and weaknesses. Taking on board new information is not in itself a bad thing, not at all. Where it can start contributing to you feeling lost, is if you consume a lot of information based on the success of someone with inherently different strengths to yours. Even that is fine, if you are aware of your own weaknesses, and put a plan in place to overcome them. But if you are just dreaming of running a business in a way that someone else is doing it, without having a clear grasp of why that plan might not work for you, of course you are going to feel like there’s something wrong with you.

Taking stock of your own strengths & weaknesses is a great way to put yourself back in the driving seat. Once you are fully aware of all the amazing things you bring to your business, you can start thinking of innovative ways of leveraging your strengths. And once you honestly admit your weaknesses to yourself, you can either put an action plan in place to overcome them, or stop following blueprints that don’t take your particular handicaps into consideration.

I made this little worksheet for you to help you with identifying your strengths & weaknesses. Hopefully, it will help you to start feeling more in control of your own unique business again.

Download your worksheet

Author: Marianne Taylor

Her Lovely Heart founder Marianne Taylor is a photographer, an educator, and a lover of colour & light. Her work has been published in blogs and magazines the world over and her personal photography has been part of an exhibition at Tate Britain. To work with Marianne, see the mentoring services she offers. Or, if you like the photography on HLH, you might want to check out her Product & Lifestyle photography services to see whether you could work together to help your brand grow. She is also slightly obsessed with her two cats, Astrid & Sofia, and loves Instagram.

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7 thoughts on “Help! I don’t know what I’m doing with my business

  1. Awesome tips Marianne! I’m looking forward to sitting down and going through my 2016 goals and seriously getting on track!

    Anna
    http://www.byrosanna.co.uk

    Posted on November 14, 2015 at 11:51 am
  2. I spent most of this week pacing my living room trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my business. It was nice taking some time to step back and brainstorm because I realized what I had thought I wanted, really wasn’t it. Now I have a much clearer picture and am excited about my biz again! Thanks for all the great tips :)

    Posted on November 20, 2015 at 9:23 pm
    1. That’s wonderful to hear that taking a step back made you see more clearly! xo

      Posted on November 23, 2015 at 10:40 am
  3. I am speechless – and it does not happen often. Thank you.

    Posted on December 27, 2015 at 11:49 am
    1. I hope in a good way! :D

      Posted on December 28, 2015 at 3:17 am
  4. I’ve just been reading this article during a quiet period at work and have downloaded a few of the worksheets. It’s a wonderful read and will hopefully help me as I’m going through a bit of “Don’t know what I’m doing with my business” crisis at the moment.

    Great stuff Marianne! Thanks xx

    Posted on April 6, 2016 at 11:25 am
    1. So glad to hear it was helpful, Hannah! x

      Posted on April 6, 2016 at 11:47 am