Everyone gets into a professional or business slump. The best of the best in their field have had the proverbial bump in the road.
When it happened to me, it came in the form an emotional, physical and professional Tsunami. Sadly, with every forward step I made (and believe you me, these were baby steps), I slipped a half to two steps back. I had no knowledge of how to move forward, which is why it's my life's mission to help people with creative and innovate ways to problem solve and move ahead.
Here's my recipe for a successful professional reinvention.
1. Look at your reinvention as a process.
As the saying goes, "Rome Wasn't built in a Day," and neither will a reinvention or significant change occur overnight. Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, comments in an article from Fast Company:
"It's a silly analogy, but then our conventional way of looking at change is no less silly. Everyone looks for the 'miracle moment' when 'change happens.' But ask the good-to-great executives when change happened. They cannot pinpoint a single key event that exemplified their successful transition."
This is a process that takes some time and calls for smaller steps before positive changes are possible. Like any 12-step program will suggest, take things "one day at a time," or one step at a time. Trust that the process will work over time and your reinvention is right around the corner with this approach.
2. Never put all of your eggs in one basket.
This is one I've been guilty of myself, so I know of what I speak. I landed a Fortune 500 company as a client just as my son was born -- my second child (my first being a daughter we adopted from China and, at the time, we had another application in to return to China for my second daughter... when I learned I was expecting and had my son). Hence, I found myself with two children (age 2 and a newborn) along with a major client on my hands. Good news -- yes, however, I became so busy servicing this client and being on the road two weeks out of the month and racing home to two toddlers (and another one on the way from China), that I had no time to "diversify" my client base. When the executives who launched the program I was delivering left the company, so too did the project.
Lesson: It's best to establish your business model to serve a variety of industries or markets. Yes, I know this is the reverse of what you've been trained to think about business and establishing a "niche." More on that in tip #10.
3. Hire people who are smarter than you.
When I hit a health crisis of epic proportions (My story on Fox 25 News) I was so blessed to have had a co-op student from Northeastern University, Brittany, take the helm of my business while I was literally in a coma. Brittany was so capable and having shared the inner workings of my business with her, she continued to deliver on a Fortune 500 company client while I was recovering. My retainer continued and was a blessing of epic proportions.
Although my dad was a CPA (Certified Public Accountant), I unfortunately, didn't inherit his accounting genes. The first person I hired outside of my company was a bookkeeper. It keeps me from spending endless hours on a task I hate, but is still necessary to keep track of -- just ask the IRS!
As business owners, we can be control freaks and insist on doing everything ourselves. That's never wise! Focus on your strengths and hire your weaknesses or people who can move the dial forward more quickly than you can.
4. Invest in getting support for you and your business.
No man is an island -- sorry for all of the clichés, but it's so true. You need to surround yourself with people who are supportive during this time. Thankfully I had great family support, good friends and a great therapist to help me through the ups and downs of overcoming my illness, separation, etc.
Later, as I improved, I worked with some amazing coaches who helped me to value myself and business and helped me fast-forward getting back into the work game. I'm so grateful for their support and counsel and as a coach and consultant myself (who understands completely that it's difficult, if not impossible, to be one to yourself -- the cobbler's children -- there I go again), I'm able to pass my continued collective knowledge and innovative ideas that I'm known for - to those I coach and consult with.
5. Give yourself a break.
So many of us are so tough on ourselves. Allow yourself some time off, reflection, an occasional massage (a God send when I was recovering), or a nap. Eat well, take a walk, spend time with family and friends and honor your need to heal, regenerate and invigorate again. Many amazing ideas come to you in a state of rest or respite. That's why vacations are encouraged as well.
One of my first jobs out of college allowed us employees the benefit of a "mental health" day. Heaven on earth -- a great employee benefit to everyone in the company. Give yourself those days to take in what the world has to offer -- sit still and allow ideas and solutions to flow in!
6. Seek out a personal support system.
Having a good team around you is a necessity in business -- as it is in life. When I was at the lowest of low points in my life I was so grateful for the friends and family who were nearby and supportive. Make time in your life to "be" with people that matter to you. I was also comforted by people in my business network who stepped in to complete jobs for me, visit me when I was ill, and offer support in such trying times. Your relationships are your investment.
7. Think smarter, not harder.
The best way to do this in my 25+ years of experience is to focus your time primarily on the revenue-producing activities of the business. Concentrate on new business development and servicing the client. Then delegate/manage the other necessary functions of the business that don't need you specifically to do them.
Remember, as a business owner you are NOT the only person on your team or in your company who can "do" all of the necessary tasks in building your business. Delegate wisely -- focus on what you do best and what brings in revenues.
8. View this as the ultimate education and learning experience.
Any perceived setback can be looked at in a variety of ways. This is why having an attitude of gratitude is so necessary when you're in the midst of a real or perceived crisis. Oftentimes, the break-down comes before the break through. Change is never easy, however, it's a constant in these times.
There are many hidden gifts in going through major life changes -- personally or professionally -- and
9. Learn the "Tri-Fecta" of an ideal business and emulate or reinvent it.
Love what you do, be the best at it and figure out the best revenue model to bring it to market.
Sounds simple, right? And it is, but not easy. What is it that you l-o-v-e to do? What would you do if you weren't getting paid for it, because you love it so much? Think hobbies, blogs and websites you gravitate to -- that's a good start!
In the marketplace you're in -- what do you know you excel at? What are you known to be the best at? Do others know it yet, or not? If so, why or how - and why not?
Is there a revenue model that will help you to monetize what you do and get paid well for it, while servicing others? Think brand extensions, ways to leverage an idea or concept through licensing, franchising and maximizing your ideas.
10. Find the commonalities in your life and work experience.
My mastermind colleague, coach and dear friend Jeff Shaw has built an amazing photography business -- among others, in recognizing the gift of not having a specific niche, but in attempting to uncover the commonalities of all of your talents. For me, it was clearly about helping others to reinvent themselves and their businesses. What's in common among all of your interests and innate capabilities?
Find all of the commonalities in the gifts you have and design your business around articulating them to your target market.
Ready to take the next step in your own business reinvention? Check out my free Reinvention eGuide and I'll lead the way!