Not enjoying freelancing? Here's how to fall back in love with your business again
You don't know how it happened. One minute you loved your business and everything about it. From chasing clients and winning new projects to leaping happily from one meeting to another – it was exciting, adventurous and no two days were ever the same.
But now? You loathe Sunday evenings and dread another Monday back at your desk. You resent your clients and can't even face sending monthly invoices – every minute feels like a drag.
You're not sure how or when you started to feel this way. You know it doesn't feel right anymore. At this point, all you want to do is escape. But before you dump something you've worked so hard to make a success, consider how to rekindle that lost spark. Because it's only natural that you'll go through periods when you don't want to be an entrepreneur – we all have those moments.
We've put together the following strategy to help you love your work and business again from taking some necessary timeout to remembering why you went solo in the first place.
1. Take a holiday
Get lost, getaway, escape from it all. Seriously. If you're anything like most business owners, you'll rarely take a break, and if you do, you won't entirely switch off. My advice is to book the kind of holiday that requires no thinking, no hassle, lots of relaxing and no laptop, mobile phone or social media. A holiday that prioritises you, not your business.
Don't feel like you can? Nonsense. Make it happen. The world can live without you for a fortnight. Clients will understand. Remind yourself that everyone needs a holiday – even you! And your business will still be waiting for you when you return.
Give your brain a break, and you will reap the rewards. You might find that a holiday was all you needed to fall back in love with your business.
2. With a fresh perspective, start again
You've returned home after two weeks of holiday bliss. You feel rested, happy and raring to go. But before you tumble straight back into work, use that fresh energy to spring clean your business. Ask yourself the following to spark new ideas and encourage decisive action:
- What can I improve or get rid of?
- What tools or resources are costing too much or not working? Can I find a cheaper and better replacement?
- How can I make my processes more efficient, so I have more time to be creative?
- Are there any fresh ideas I can apply to my clients to make them better?
- What new routine can I start each day to become a better business owner?
- Is there a way I can improve my desk or office to make it a healthier and happier environment?
- What's holding me back? What new skills would I benefit from learning?
Taking a moment to review your business, when you feel rested and ready to kickass again, is hugely advised. You'll solve loads of your business issues and set yourself up for another successful stint.
3. Bring a little holiday feeling home with you
It's so easy to forget work/life balance when we run a business. We can get so dragged down in routine and deadlines, that we neglect ourselves. On holiday, we only have to worry about whether we'll spend the day at the beach or by the hotel pool. The bliss of being and not worrying about anything else can feel alien and rare, but it doesn't have to be this way. You really can adopt some holiday feeling into your everyday.
For Stanley Chow, Manchester-based illustrator, he believes that holiday feeling is crucial for our wellbeing: "It’s all about the work/life balance. Sometimes it’s a case of working too hard. Take a breather and take some downtime. Remind yourself of the things that you enjoy doing when you’re not working, be it reading a book, going to the cinema, going on long walks – this usually redresses the balance for me.”
4. Don't forget to shake up your routine
When days feel repetitive, you might start to resent your business. If all you do is go to work and come home, eat dinner, go to bed and get up and repeat, you'll start to wonder about the meaning of life.
In his book, Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, Silicon Valley consultant Alex Soojung-Kim Pang says you have to make time for rest, otherwise: "If your work is your self, when you cease to work, you cease to exist."
In which case, have interests outside of work. Make the most of your evenings and weekends. Introduce one new social event or hobby during the week to have something to look forward.
5. Consider the reasons why you even went solo
Are you still struggling to fall back in love with your business? It's easy to forget why we launched our venture. For me, I got sick of working for someone else. I wanted more freedom, more time to do my own thing. I'm someone who gets bored quickly, so entrepreneurship suits me perfectly as no two days are ever the same. I never look at the clock. And I make way more money. Life is sweet. It's good to remember why I launched my business. It keeps me focused.
David Sedgwick, founder of Studio DBD agrees: "During the tough times, of which there can be many, I try to re-evaluate why I’m doing this. It’s essential to take stock. Take a few days to ask yourself some difficult and searching questions.
"I think most of the time we probably deep down know what is wrong and how we can get back on course, but we need to work through this period somehow. I also find short breaks away, exercise, reorganising my desk space or studio, a few hours away from the computer or simply going to an art gallery are the usual things can often work as well."
6. Book your next holiday
Book a holiday at least four times a year. That way, you always have something to look forward to. We're not saying that you should wish your life away. It's just that holidays are so important when you run a business. They revitalise you. Refresh you. They remind you of all of the above and more. And having a holiday to look forward to is very motivating and will undoubtedly help you get through those inevitable hard times.
Tokyo-based illustrator Andrew Joyce thinks you should always plan breaks into your routine: "Take time away from whatever regular practice you have to recharge whether that's a side project, a research trip or even a cup of coffee and a book. Make it a habit to step back and appreciate the flexibility of being an entrepreneur and allow yourself to reinvigorate the passion for your business."