Help! My dream is swallowing me!!

We all start with a big idea and a little dream.  With hard work and perseverance our dream takes to the air and we watch in awe.  We watch our business grow and we are thrilled that others are as excited about product as we are.  And then it happens.  Our dream lands us in a place starting to resemble a nightmare.  Ok maybe that’s an exaggeration but if someone told me that sewing blankets and burp cloths  in my spare time 3 years ago would turn into a children’s fashion line demanding a 7 day 10 hour a day work week with no end in sight, I’m pretty sure I would have taken more time for business planning.

This is the point when burn out sets in and many businesses close down or scale down.   With quick growth our business often starts dictating to us what we do rather than the other way around.  We take advice from others, we cater to our customers in unreasonable ways because we think that’s what we must do to keep or earn their business, our time gets taken by day to day tasks rather than business development. The stress becomes too much.  The money is tied up in production so you don’t see the fruits of your labor.  The loss of time with family and friends becomes the question, “Is this all worth it?  Is this what I had in mind?”

Ok now take a deep breath and keep reading because this gets better.  I am here to tell you it is worth it and you can do this.

When you start with a little dream, that’s what you see in your minds eye:  running through flower fields with people cheering you on and throwing you money.  And that’s exactly how you should see it because if you saw it for all the hard work it was about to become you may not get started.  If you saw all the speed bumps you may say, “oh nevermind.”  If you knew what you were going to have to sacrifice to make your dream come true you try to tuck that dream away for later and let it rot on the shelf.

It’s time to step back and take a look at where your “dream” has taken you and devise a plan.  It’s time to take control back.  Give your dream a path to move forward but set boundaries that make sure it doesn’t take over.  Push forward.  But with a plan.  Here’s how:

  1. Delegate.  Ask yourself what is taking most of your time.  Is it possible to pass on some of this work to someone else or cut it out completely?  Can you hire an intern to handle your social networking?  Can you pay someone to handle production, packing, shipping, sales?  Letting go and letting others is the hardest step for a small business owner but it is the only way to grow.
  2. Take an honest look.   Sit down and really look at how your dream started and how it’s taken.  Are you happy with the outcome or do you need to make changes to get you excited about your business again?  Don’t be scared to make changes.
  3. Take the wheel back.  Quit holding on for the ride.  I read once that good businesses respond to the market while great business approach the market with a plan.  It’s time to sit down and rewrite-or finally write-your business plan.  Ask yourself the cliché question, “where do you see yourself in 5 years”, then write a plan to get there.  Really write it, don’t just think about it.
  4. Take a Pat Yourself on the Back Break.  People all see how busy you are and how hard you work.  They see your success and are proud.  But are you too busy to take notice of these things?  Allow yourself the luxury of reveling in your successes.  Write a list, have a bottle of wine with loved ones and toast your success, shout it off a mountain top how proud you are of yourself.  For one day don’t think about how far you have to go.  Think about how far you have made it.  It is just what you need to move forward refreshed and motivated.
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