No one said that running a business was going to be easy, but most vegan entrepreneurs are so excited about following their dream of doing meaningful work that it may take a while for reality to set in. When you started your business, or as you were dreaming about starting it, you were likely fueled by a background of inspirational conversations, encouragement from friends and family and financial projections from your business plan.
However, after being in business for a while, you might have faced some difficult customers. Maybe you stumbled through a product launch, or received some harsh feedback. Perhaps you hired some less-than-ideal employees or fell short of your financial goals. Either way, you’ve finally had that day — you know, the one where the questions begin. What am I doing? Why am I doing it? The doubt monster has started to follow you around and is forcing you to question yourself, your business and the decisions you are making.
But when you find yourself struggling, remember this is all part of the process. Life is all about balance, and running a business is no exception. Still, when you’re going through a rough patch, what can you do to help yourself? First, learn to accept the reality that owning a vegan business comes with challenges — for that matter anything worth doing is usually met with some obstacles. Second, create a process for managing these meteor showers. Here’s a few tips to help you resurface after one of those days:
Use Negative Feedback As A Tool. Every business owner, at some point or another, faces negative feedback. And often that feedback can feel like a personal attack. But as the face of your business, you’ve become a public figure. That means your product, food, program or class will be evaluated by the world, and it isn’t possible to maintain a 100% approval-rating. Learn how to separate useful feedback from criticisms you need to let go. Filter productive feedback so it can be leveraged to make you and your business stronger. Often new ideas, products and businesses are driven by the unmet or under-met needs of customers. If you can figure out how to use negative feedback as a tool to drive improvements, your business will be better for it in the end.
Don’t Ignore Problems. Often small business owners adopt the “ignore it until it becomes big enough” policy when it comes to issues with their products/services. It may be tempting to do this since fixing problems can be costly in both time and money. The danger of this approach is that problems can get so big they will train-wreck your business. Not every issue should necessarily be top priority, but you should have a process that helps to identify, track and resolve critical problems before they become unmanageable.
I recommend creating a log of all issues, complaints or problems that surface in your business. Create two ranking systems so you can measure the impact of unaddressed issues on your business and your customers, and estimate the investment needed to fix them. Use a ranking system such as high-low, and capture the frequency of the issue. This will help you determine where to start. In addition, it will move you into productive problem-solving mode (instead of unproductive sitting-in-a pile-of-worry mode).
Find Your Reset Button. After you’ve been through something traumatic, it’s critical to have a routine or process that can help you shed negativity. This might be taking a walk in your favorite place, watching your favorite movie, exercising, calling a loved one or simply taking a hot bath and getting an early night. Whatever it is for you, know how to find your way to your happy place again, so you’re ready to start fresh and take on the world for one more day.
Keep this article handy, so when you have “One Of Those Days” you can remind yourself that you’re not alone and use some of these suggestions to turn things around.
Identify your reset button. Even if you haven’t had “one of those days” yet, you will at some point, and it’s a good idea to have a strategy in your back pocket to finding your way back to a fresh start. What’s yours?