The important part of running a business nobody wants to talk about
Life is seasonal.
We always talk about life itself in terms of what season of it we’re in. On a smaller scale everything around us is constantly ebbing, flowing, and moving through its own cyclical season.
Including us. And our businesses.
Some seasons in business are exciting. You’re launching a new service, the sales site is nearly done, you’ve been researching social media strategies and perfecting the tagline. You’re energized and focused on the finish line.
These are the seasons we tend to talk a lot about. The beginning, when you’re just getting started and everything is new and you don’t know what to do next. Or the launch, when you’re entering new territory; or maybe old territory that still makes your skin tingle a little.
In our minds, those are the times that matter. The starting and the launching. The big milestones.
If I can juuuuust get this thing going, then it will be on autopilot and I’ll be able to breathe.
If I can juuuuust push a little farther, I’ll be able to rest for a bit.
The thing 'they' don’t tell you though, I think because it seems like common sense if you aren’t actually experiencing it, is that the starting and the launching really are just the beginning.
The birthing of the business, or the product, or the whatever, isn’t actually the hard part.
The hard part is doing all the things afterward to make sure it doesn’t just survive, but thrives.
Consistently. Every day. Every week. Doing the small things that feel like they don’t matter but really are the foundation of everything that does matter.
I’m going to say it again, because sometimes I need to hear it more than once.
The most important thing you can do to make sure your business thrives is to do the small things consistently.
After the launch. After the excitement dies down.
You’ve planted the seeds, and now you’re tending to your seedlings, and your full grown plants, daily.
It’s human nature to want to plant the garden and walk away. Launch the website with the killer sales page, announce it to the world once, and expect the growth to happen on it’s own.
Sadly, that’s not how growing things works. Overnight successes are rare and often imaginary.
There’s a season that has to come between planting something and harvesting it, and it’s easy to ignore but basically non-negotiable.
It’s a season of nurturing, and I suspect it’s where lots of otherwise great business ideas slowly die. Plenty of mine certainly have.
This is the phase where you’ve birthed the ‘thing’. Recorded and assembled the course. Opened the Etsy shop. Launched the coaching website.
The thing you’ve been working so hard on is out there in the world, just waiting to be scooped up by the right person.
You’ve been busy creating and birthing the thing, and now you’re ready to curl up on the couch with some well earned Netflix while your Etsy notifications go off.
Except instead of exciting cash register noises you get crickets.
Or maybe you’ve done a little up front marketing and you have a decent launch, but three months later everyone has moved on and no one remembers your new thing.
Or, and this seems to be a common one, what if you’re trucking along with a few clients, keeping your head down and focused on keeping them happy, and one day you realize you don’t have any new leads in the pipeline and what the hell are you going to do for money next month?
I’ve been there. And it’s usually because I tried to skip out on the nurturing.
In this not-as-exciting season you’re doing the small things that build a business, or a habit, or a life. But you may or may not be seeing the results of it yet.
Maybe you aren’t seeing progress yet, the bank account isn’t growing super fast, you aren’t losing much weight.
This is the part where a lot of us get frustrated. We feel like the things we’re doing don’t matter. Nobody’s listening. We stop blogging. We stop sharing. We stop connecting. We give up.
This nurturing phase isn’t sexy by the way. It’s not exciting. Sometimes it’s just boring.
It’s setting a timer for 30 minutes and writing an email to your list to remind them you have openings in October. Practicing your craft every single day. Updating your shop listings and following up on leads.
Nurturing is where you create new Pinterest graphics for your shop listings. Where you update your portfolio with recent clients. Where you keep writing the blog, even when it feels like nobody’s reading.
Nurturing is continuously doing the small things that move the needle, every single day, every single week, to consistently grow your business.
Without it, you might never have anything to harvest. (RIP at least two of my previous Etsy shops)
This is not me calling you lazy by the way. You’re working. I see you over there with your head down, plugging away in your business, afraid to take an hour of biz dev time because you might fall behind.
But that hour of business development now is worth three in the bush later... or however that saying goes.
And yes, this is just as much a reminder for myself as it is a cautionary tale to you.
So what can you do today to nurture your business, or anything else in your life, at least a little? Especially when it feels like there’s not enough time to just do the basics?
Here are a few ideas:
Make an on-going to-do list strictly for business nurturing tasks. These can be super quick things like repinning your blog posts or more complex things like updating your portfolio. Just get them down on paper so you know what needs to be done. Next time you have 5, 10, or 30 spare minutes - do one of those things.
Put biz dev time on the calendar. Actually write it down, block it off, and schedule it. Make it a time when you won’t be distracted by other things, and then make it a priority. Use the time to knock out tasks from your to-do list above.
Don’t have time to block off an hour each day? Focus on just one task per day from the list. One small thing each day will add up and eventually start to snowball.