5 tips to know you're on the right (business) path

business path by contributing author  

I’ve been in the small business sector since 2008 doing all sorts of things. I’ve been online and offline. Running photography studios, doing small business marketing, web design and even had a small catering-type gig. Some people call me a Jane-of-all-trades, and some people just say I ain’t hirable any more.

Both of these things are probably true! Ha.

During my time in the small business sphere, I’ve met all kinds of people. Most of these people had something in common. They were unhappy. I had a lot in common with these folks at the time. I spent most of my nights staring at the ceiling, wondering how on earth I got myself into such a miserable place, when all I wanted to do was to bring my gifts into the world. How hard could it be, right? It was all done with good intentions, yet somehow it left me feeling insanely hollow inside. I felt lonely, jealous & miserable. This was true even when my business was thriving. I’m ashamed to say it now, but I was a horrible selfish human being. I wasn’t even very nice. Fast forward almost a decade, and I’ve learnt to watch for a few key signs to know if I’m on the right path or not.  I want to share them with you today, so you can avoid these mistakes which will suck the life out of you and waste colossal amounts of time.

If it feels like you’re pushing uphill all the time, stop.

There are moments in life where you’ll hit a wall which usually means there’s a lesson to learn there.

Most businesses have growing pains and that’s perfectly alright. However, if it feels like every second of every day is like pushing water uphill, if every single thing feels like a struggle… you need to stop.

You’ve just got to take a minute, a huge step back and ask yourself: Why does everything feel so darn difficult. Really dig deep. Take a few days off. Ask yourself the hard questions. Maybe you need new systems in place. Maybe you need new staff. Maybe you’re on the wrong path.

Fix it, if it can be fixed. Let it go if it can’t.

No matter what you decide, remember that this is not a failure. It’s a lesson. I’ve canned businesses that I had invested a ton of time and money in, but were just no longer viable and not fixable.

I know it’s a hard pill to swallow, because our businesses are like these tiny non-human children to us. We would never give them up, unless hell and high water came all at once, but seriously. You’ve got to be able to cut your losses at some point, especially if it’s taking a toll on your health and it’s turning you into a crazy nut ball.

If you hate waking up in the morning, something’s wrong.

I’m going to be super honest with you here. I am NOT a morning person, but I love what I do. So even if I snooze a couple of times because my bed is super cozy, it doesn’t mean that I am not completely inspired by my work once my brain turns back on.

You can come to a point in your business, however, where there are no “up” days to balance the crazy ones. Where you lose your joie de vivre, and you no longer want to get out of bed for days on end. That’s a HUGE red flag. Call in the cavalry, something’s gotta give.

If it just seems to happen by itself, follow along.

Sometimes, we get lucky enough that we take a path where doors seem to open by themselves. People come out of the woodworks, there to support you and your cause. Opportunities come up that you never thought you’d have. This. Is. A. Good. Sign.

Don’t fight it. Don’t tell yourself you’re not good enough. Just think of it as a game and play along for a while, see how things unfold. Some people call this “being in flow”, I just tend to call it awesome & thank my lucky stars when it happens.

Sometimes, it’s just magic.

When you have a winning moment, you should feel happiness wash over you. You should celebrate. There should be an amazing feeling of fullness. Like no matter what happens next, you can take on the world because you managed to help this one person. Make this one sale. Land this one article. They don’t have to be huge life altering wins. They just have to make you happy.

Then, there are those moments, which feel like magic. They are profoundly surreal beautiful moments. They shake you right down to your core. They build up inside of you like a volcano and burst out of you like an explosion of light. These are the defining moments on your path that let you know you’re in the right place, doing the right thing. You may never know 100% if you’re on the right path, but watch for those bursts of happiness. They’ll let you know you’re onto something.