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At the beginning of February 2014, I attended a small mastermind retreat called Thrive Hive Live. It’s a twice-a-year meetup with other female entrepreneurs who are trying to grow successful businesses.
In the previous year we went to Palm Springs, and this year the meetup was in Miami (and boy was it HOT). I had a fantastic time, and like always, I walked away with some fabulous ideas, motivating to-do’s and wonderful friendships.
The biggest thing that stood out to me was something my friend Shawndra Russell talked about; future-proofing your business. She asked us if our businesses would be able to sustain themselves over the next 50 years and beyond. OUCH! The answer to that question scared me.
Why? Because I was so stressed that I was physically sick, and even though I had already quit my full-time almost a year ago, I still hadn’t found the balance freedom I was looking for.
What is a future-proof business?
The phrase future-proofing basically refers to the ability of something to retain it’s value long into the distant future. This relates to a business as something you’re building now that will outlast you and leave a legacy — without putting you in the grave from unhappiness and stress.
Another way to explain it would be to ask if you’re building a sustainable business. Would you be able to do what you’re doing right now when you’re 80 years old?
How’s that for a big slap of reality?! Here are 5 ways to future-proof your business this week!
1. Carve out time for self-care
Shawndra suggested something that I’ve talked about before, and that’s putting yourself first. It’s all too easy for us entrepreneurs to put our community and clients’ needs before our own, but that’s a recipe for quick burnout (one that I’ve personally experience).
Last year, my business coach put me on a routine to take care of myself, through meditation, lighting candles, reading books, taking baths, carving out time for social activities and the like. Shawndra suggests to take it a step further by blocking out 30 minutes every morning to work on whatever you want.
Take time to eat breakfast, while you read the paper, or watch the news. Read a magazine, or do some yoga, before you take a shower and get ready for the day.
Since I got home from Miami I’ve put this into practice, and there are days when I’ll take a few hours to myself before starting my “work day”. And I’ve never felt more productive or less stressed.
I think Debbie Orol, from Body Mind and Soul Nutrition says it best, take care of yourself first so you will have more to give to others.
2. Infuse shots of happiness
Speaking of recharging, we all need to be rewarded from time to time with a little “shot of happiness”. It can do wonders for your confidence and creativity. After you’ve had a recent accomplishment or completed a big project, you should celebrate it.
However you choose to reward yourself is up to you, but it needs to be something you like and that will reinforce positive activity to your mind and soul. (Hello mini Reese’s!)
It can be something as simple as taking the rest of the day off work, carving out time for a quick nap, or buying an iced latte. Either way, you’ve earned a shot of happiness. And remember, the small wins are just as important as the big ones.
3. Encourage flexibility and opportunity
Coming from me this probably sounds ridiculous. I love my schedules, and everything needs to be done a certain way, within a certain time.
But if there’s anything I’ve learned as a solo business owner it’s that you HAVE to be flexible. Your schedule doesn’t care what you had planned for the day, and it will ruin your happiness if you let it.
Take back control by going with the flow more. You’re in charge of your business, and since you can run it how you like, some days will be more productive than others. You’ll have moments of awesomeness, and the next day you’ll feel completely unmotivated. Who cares? That’s how life (and business) goes.
So get that stick out of your butt and learn to enjoy all of the moments, instead of being annoyed or frustrated. Don’t worry, I give myself this tough love everyday.
4. Make more money by helping people
It’s just that simple. Focus on helping people and the rest of what you need, in your business and life, will follow. When I first quit my job, I was only interested in making more money because I needed to pay the bills and fund my retirement accounts.
But that’s the wrong kind of motivation. Yes, of course we need to pay our bills, but that kind of mindset leads to a through process of not having enough. Since you always feel the drive to have more, you’re not thankful for what you do have. You don’t see the income and freedom you’re creating, because you need more, more, more!
Once I stopped that negative thinking, and starting engaging in weekly Positive Focus sessions, the work got a lot easier and the money started flowing in. Granted, I’m not a millionaire yet, but that’s not my end goal. I want to help other solo business owners tackle their big, hairy financial mountains.
My money motivation now comes from a place of positivity and to help, instead of the negative taking mindset. I still have moments where I freak out about how I’ll pay my bills, but the money always comes at the perfect time. I’ve never been late on any of my bills, and I still put money into my savings.
5. Create your own Positive Focus sessions
At the end of every week, normally on a Friday afternoon, I grab my moleskin notebook and list out 5-10 wins that I had for the week. Sometimes they are big things, like landing another writing gig, other times it’s something small like getting to bed before midnight.
These are blocks of time for just me and my notebook. No computers or electronics, no emails, no interruptions — just my thoughts and a nice smelling candle. Focusing on the positive things that happened over the week will remind you of what you checked off the list, instead of obsessing over what you didn’t get done.
I’m sure this is something you understand all too well as an entrepreneur. There are literally thousands of things we could be doing at any given moment, and the list keeps growing. But it’s vital you take time to acknowledge your wins, and like in #2, give yourself a shot of happiness for accomplishing them.
So I’ll leave you with this question: What can you do THIS WEEK to future-proof your business and create something valuable for the next 50 years and beyond?