If you’re a small business owner whose company hasn’t gone through hard times, that’s great but it’s likely to happen at some point.

As much as we dream about being brilliant enough in our business that we will never face challenging times and obstacles, there are many things beyond our control that can negatively affect how we feel about being a business owner.

started my 1st real business at age 23 with my partner Gary, in my fathers shed with just $800. For the next 14 months, it was living hell. No matter how hard we worked, nothing improved. We were not making money and were exhausted. Despite giving up 3 times, we forged on for the next 5 years and created a $12 million company.

Things are changing rapidly, the world is chaotic right now (at the time of this post – Covid 19), and struggling small business owners are scrambling to maintain a sense of control during these tough business times. 

But amidst all this turmoil, there’s still a lot of optimism to hold on to. Here are my top 7 tips for keeping yourself focused on your goals and your business while the ground is shifting beneath you.

Tough Times Positive Tip #1 – $10 more and I will be happy

It is estimated that 70% of us are clinically depressed at some point or other in our lives. With so many opportunities around us, why would anyone be unhappy?

Here’s the thing. Many people believe something external to themselves will bring them happiness. If I have a new BMW… if I have a bigger house with all the new gadgets… if I had a different shaped nose… if I had better friends …I would definitely be happy. I have never met anyone whose brand new BMW solved all of their problems.

These materialistic “wants” bring materialistic happiness, and it only lasts as long as the next “thing” comes along. This new “thing” becomes the new carrot you chase to achieve your happiness.

True happiness depends on nothing external. It is an emotion everyone possesses. This emotion is controlled by you and is expressed by you when you choose to express it in response to any circumstance.

The difference between happy and unhappy people is the “controlling part” of the happiness emotion – the controlling of the release of this emotion. The part that causes you to laugh or smile. Suppression of emotions leads to depression; hence, “logically” unhappy people are generally depressed.  Many people have limiting factors, anchors, and instilled barriers that “trap” their happiness and breed new “beliefs” such as “If I had a new dress, I would be happy.”

Here’s another thing about happiness. Learn from the past; look to the future but LIVE in the present. Dwelling in the past or living in the future and missing out on the present are key ingredients to unhappiness.

If this point resonated with you, you might like to read “The Present” by Spencer Johnson.

Tough Times Positive Tip #2  – Don’t Harbour Rusty Ships!

 Your NETWORK = Your NETWORTH!

In business, choose carefully who you associate with.  Align yourself strategically with selected companies. Skilfully build your network.  It is advantageous to spend a little more time finding the right people and companies which can assist with your goals and growth. Align yourself with those who can “upgrade your knowledge” and accelerate your path to success.

Many people in business use an existing network because it is easy. Changing, finding new suppliers, service providers or coaches, etc is a hassle for most people. Why? Because most people don’t have time to find new prospects, they don’t have the resource to search, and it is a hassle and distraction from everyday business necessities.

But consider this!

You are only as strong as your weakest link. If you have a great product, but your delivery company keeps losing your orders, YOU take the blame, not the incompetent delivery company. If your sales are ramping up, but your supplier’s processes can’t keep up with your accelerating growth, YOU field the calls from angry clients for wrong or delayed orders. 

Do you get frustrated dealing with incompetent people, inefficient processes, red tape, and a general disinterested attitude from companies who you are paying for service or products? If so do yourself a favour.

Give yourself a network checkup!

Make a list of “network” colleagues or companies you are having issues with. Besides them being incompetent, perhaps you have outgrown them. 

A bad supplier or service provider is like a bad employee; they steal your energy and return very little output.

Take the time to find, meet, and negotiate with new companies to replace the “rusty ships” in your harbour. You will be pleasantly surprised to find that there are actually companies and people out there trying really hard to win business and please their customers.

These people deserve the business, and so do you!

Tough Times Positive Tip #3  – No No No… Yes!

 “You can quit anytime, so why quit now!” – Robert Kiyosaki

If you have quit at your first attempt at a new business or idea, then you are not below average, but slightly above. Most wannabe entrepreneurs and business owners don’t even get to the trying part.

Most people, when faced with temporary defeat or failure, have an immediate reaction to quit, and get away from the pain. They transmit their thoughts backwards to an original state where the pain did not exist.

But how about this: What if your first thought or immediate reaction was to go forward, and keep going. Instead of transmitting your thoughts backwards to an original state of comfort, transmit your thoughts forward to your goal, where your positive thoughts exist.

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up” – Thomas Edison.

Here’s a simple technique I use when starting a new venture or am pursuing difficult tasks. I imagine a straight line with 100’s of the words NO lined up next to each other. At the end of the line, at the end of all the words NO, I picture a big YES.

Now, every time I get rejected on a task or sale or whatever mission I am on, I tick off a NO on my imaginary line, and I celebrate and am grateful. Why, because I am now one less NO closer to my YES.

Don’t give up – EVER!

Keep practising these simple tips. They really do work for me. Soon enough, thinking about processes of encouragement will become second nature and your mind stronger than ever before.

If this point resonated with you, you would enjoy reading “Unlimited Success” by Napoleon Hill

To your persistence!

Tough Times Positive Tip #4 – The Egg Timer Technique!

Here’s a great technique to use each time you find yourself being swamped by negative emotions.

In situations where the clouds of powerlessness, self-doubt, and lack of confidence start to blacken out any sun in your mind, and you suddenly feel the straps of negativity tightening around you, try this.

Imagine your mind is like an egg timer. It has a positive half, filled with RED sand and a negative half, filled with BLUE sand.

Now every time you feel yourself in a whirlwind of negativity, picture your egg timer with the BLUE sand at the top, pouring its negativity into the RED sand at the bottom. The BLUE negative sand is overpowering the RED positive sand.

TURN your egg timer upside down! Picture the RED sand at the top now, pouring positive thoughts over the BLUE sand at the bottom. Focus on all the positive RED sand covering up and smothering the negative BLUE sand. As the positive RED sand pours, FEEL all your negative thoughts dissolving away and FEEL them being replaced by positive, encouraging thoughts.

Again, with continued practice, these techniques will become second nature and allow you very simply and effectively to maintain a positive state of mind.

To your strengthening mind!

Tough Times Positive Tip #5 – The River of Life

Happiness in life is not the result of something in life happening to you but is the feeling inside you that responds to situations you find yourself in. You have the choice. The situation makes you happy, or it doesn’t – you decide!

By just deciding that more things in life will make you happy, you automatically become happy. Simple things like finding joy in looking at a sunset, taking time to smell beautiful flowers, or just listening sincerely to your children’s stories. These simple decisions to allow little things to bring joy into your life replace decisions in your mind which lead to you being stuck.

When you feel stuck in life, you fight the natural flow of life, and hence many people feel worn out, unmotivated, and have no inspiration to get out into the world and achieve. It seems too hard and tiresome to keep fighting obstacles, day after day.

If you feel like this, like many people do, try this view on life.

Believe you are part of a bigger purpose.

Believe as long as you are clear on where you want to go and who you want to be; the universe will take you there. If you are unsure at this point where you want to go and who you want to be then this is possibly why you are stuck in life. If you don’t know these answers how can life possibly provide you with the directions?

Believe and trust that life will take you where you need to go. With this belief and trust, allow yourself now to float down the river of life, enjoying the scenery and feeling yourself becoming rejuvenated as the flow of life runs easily through your body.

Sure you will hit obstacles and challenges along the way but floating in the same direction as the river energizes you and gives you renewed strength to drift over the temporary obstacles, leaving them behind you. Focus on the bigger picture; focus on where the river is flowing, feel its power, and force pushing you out from and over any barriers. Do not get stuck in the obstacles along the way.

To your rejuvenation!

If you enjoyed this tip, you would enjoy reading “A Beginners Guide to the Universe by Mike Dooley”

Tough Times Positive Tip #6 – Your 5 Soldiers

Do you know that up to 70% of our daily thoughts are negative? And that’s on an average day. Imagine when you are having a bad day!

Negativity is a poison that destroys your will to succeed. It replaces your optimism with pessimism and erodes your confidence, leaving you feeling powerless and unconfident. With this many negative thoughts in our minds a day, it is no wonder that there are more unsuccessful people than successful people.

So here’s a technique I use to transform any negative creepage into a positive thought train.

It’s called Your 5 Soldiers. They are your allies, and their task is to protect you from your own enemy – negativity.

Think of 5 situations or circumstances in your life where you excelled at something. Go as far back in your life as you need to. Situations like when you got a star for a school project, when your children hugged you for something great you did for them, when you graduated from university, when you won a race or when you helped someone in trouble etc.

Think back to these times and allow your confidence, talents, and strengths to bubble to the surface of your thoughts. SEE your smile and FEEL the joy at your accomplishments.

Now, list these 5 occasions, and for each one, ensure you associate a SEE and FEEL.

Each time you feel a negative attack coming on, call immediately on your 5 soldiers to protect you. Focus on your list and as you go through the list, SEE your success, FEEL your confidence and control. Trust and believe your 5 soldiers are protecting you and shielding you from negativity.

Tough Times Positive Tip #7 – Is it time for you to leave the nest?

Do you ever look back on the year and assess how you did? Monitor your progression or lack of?  Do you find yourself asking “Why am I not moving forward? Why am I not getting results while others around me are?”

Are you curious as to why some people achieve results, while others just never seem to get traction or get going?  I often hear people say, next year is the year it is all going to happen for me. I have been trying for 2 or 3 years now, so next year must be the year it all comes together.

To get results in life, we have to first leave our nest.  When a chick hatches from its egg, it is welcomed into the world with the warmth and security of its nest.  Its mother brings it worms at feeding time and keeps it warm at night or when it’s cold. This incubation period continues until the chick must leave the nest.  The chick leaves the nest in 2 ways; it either leaves on its own accord, or it gets kicked out by its mother.  

Fair or unfair? It doesn’t matter. This is how birds learn to fly. This is how they progress in the stages of their lives. If a bird never jumped out of its nest, it could never learn to fly. It has to take that leap to progress.

Now, many of the people I work with are in fact, still stuck in the comfort and security of their nests, despite being in business for several years. These people never get past a certain point in their lives or business, yet they feel as though they are consistently trying and are making sincere efforts.

So what is actually happening here?  

These “efforts of trying” are the shifting from the centre of their nests to its edge. They believe they are making progress and are happy to continue “trying” as long as they remain within the zone of security and comfort of their nests.

But what happens when they approach the edge of the nest? The down feathers get thinner, the nest gets colder, twigs become more abrasive, and the journey starts to get a little tougher and uncomfortable. 

And then they reach the edge!  And as they peek over the edge, they reach a defining point in their path.  Do they see the view from the edge as a brand new world of excitement and opportunity, or do they view it as a terrifying plunge into the darkness of uncertainty?

It is these differing views that determine progression or stagnation. Those that take the plunge will have the chance to soar to new heights and progress. Those that choose to run back to the centre of the nest will never progress. 

So, next time you ask yourself, “Why am I not moving forward,” ask yourself “Do I keep running back to the centre of my nest. Is it perhaps time I learned how to fly?” 

Is your safety bridge actually too safe? Instead of protecting you, maybe it is preventing you.

Final Note – Just keep going

This is what you need to be telling yourself every single day.

Most small businesses go through tough times and challenges at some point or another.

When things are uncertain, and in the face of great change, your mind tells you to pause and sometimes even hide. But there’s so much to be said for pushing through difficulties and finding what’s on the other side. Your business, your clients and your employees will be glad you did.

Don’t allow a handful of unknowns to stop you from growing, thriving and achieving your goals.

Find Out How a Small Business Coach Can Help You Get Your Business Through The Tough Times

Smart Business Coaching For Real Business Owners

Trying to survive in business can be exhausting, especially if you are always trying to solve the problems yourself. Are you frustrated, confused, and not sure what to do next? This is not how the picture of your business should look.

I understand this completely. I have been doing this for most of my adult life, and many times I have had to deal with struggles and pain alone

Being a small business owner doesn’t have to be a lonely ride.

  • Do you want help systemising your entire business operation, so you do not have to worry each day?
  • Need a practical exit strategy to turn your business into a valuable asset to set you up for life?
  • Want a proven marketing plan that has helped many other “offline” businesses just like yours to successfully integrate and grow their brand online?
  • Do you want to remove yourself from the daily grind and get your life back?
  • Do you want to optimise your business, improve efficiency, ramp up sales, maximise profits, reduce overheads and improve cash flow?
  • Need help managing and motivating your team to operate at optimum performance?

If so, we should have a chat.

You can learn more about my business coaching services here, and how to book in a free, no-obligation chat with me today. (valued at $295)

In the meantime, have a look at some real results from our previous clients. Many of them are small business owners who were struggling with similar issues you may be experiencing right now. 

I hope that you find this useful. If you would like a no-obligation, pitch-free business discovery session to see if we can help you get to where you want to go, then please book a time here.

I certainly would enjoy helping you on your business journey, whatever stage you are at, to reach your lifestyle of choice.

Thanks for sharing your time with me. I look forward to discussing how we can get your business working for you.

As always, I wish you all the very best.