I lost my business mojo for about 12 to 18 months. My clients left – and no wonder – I had a stinking bad attitude. Slowly but surely, a deep funk formed wider than the chasm between the myth of blissful self-employment and my ever-deeper despair.
I’d been self-employed for about three years when my second baby Indigo was born. For three months she slept like a doll and I adored her. Then, from three months old to six months old, she woke at least every two hours throughout the night, every night.
My regular clients, who I serviced every month with marketing copy, website updates and social media services, dropped off one by one, and my mood and business began its fierce descent.
Big speaking gig
I was booked to talk about the benefits of social media marketing at the Australian Day Hospitals Association at the Sydney Convention Centre when Indi was six months old. The more Indi cried, the more stressful the idea of this became.
After deciding that I wouldn’t cancel this commitment, the craziness accelerated. I turned up a little early to the convention and, lucky for me, the speaker before me talked about hospital insurance brokerage for hospitals and clinics. The more he bored on about insurance, the more my wretched nerves were soothed. I talked. I didn’t suck. I accidentally swore from the stage.
A week or so after the talk, I changed Indi’s routine up and she began sleeping for longer than a couple of hours at a time. I got some rest. My sanity slowly returned but my mojo didn’t.
In my heart of hearts, I knew why my clients had left. I was in a rotten funk. Sleep deprivation, a few bad run-ins with people, and my mojo tank was empty. I had nothing left to give.
Bad taste dates
Several incidents had left a bad taste in my mouth, adding to the funk that I couldn’t shake. There were the endless go-nowhere brain-picking coffee dates with a vague promise of possible, probable work. Perhaps.
There were requests for quotes for the Porsche, the Jaguar and the Aston Martin with the budget for a bicycle. There were meetings that I felt I couldn’t finish, even after telling my client that my baby was at home, waiting to be breastfed.
And there was the most memorable three-hour round trip to the outer reaches of Sydney for a meeting with a prospect who didn’t turn up, didn’t answer her phone, and didn’t bother getting in touch again.
Eventually, I realised that I needed to take responsibility for my funk and woo my mojo back. It was no wonder that I was attracting time-wasters. My bad mood was permeating new relationships and people could see through the façade to glimpse the funk inside.
Despite having two young children born within 21 months of each other, I wanted to work. I enjoy working, even when things get particularly hectic, and had no desire to walk away.
You determine how people treat you
The first change was deciding what I thought was reasonable and sane to expect from clients and prospects, which gave me the best possible fighting chance of doing a stellar job.
I overhauled my terms and conditions and my quoting process. I no longer had meetings without clear agendas. Rather than let strangers “pick my brain”, I preferred to feed it with training and reading on the fast and furious changes of digital marketing.
Seemingly straight away, things improved. I rarely needed to enforce my new terms and conditions because clients and prospects appeared to become more reasonable, no doubt aided by my improved mood.
You have more power and control than you think
Business really started to become fun when I realized that I could steer it in whatever direction I chose. Whatever wild and crazy idea I could dream up, a quick search in Google would show somebody, somewhere, already doing it. And while it can be tempting to let this get to you when you’re feeling fragile, it’s also a great source of hope and excitement – that anything is possible.
I started my business modelled on the public relations industry that I had come from. This was my default position rather than an active decision.
Recognising that I was the creator and enforcer of my terms and conditions was hugely freeing and empowering. It inspired further changes, the creation of face-to-face courses, and the reinvention of the way we were doing things.
Investing back into your business and mojo
Extra profits mean I can do things I couldn’t do before – such as engage designers to work on my own as well as client’s designs, engage proof-readers to proof my copy as well as client’s copy, and spoil clients with new goodies, gifts and assets to help them manage their own marketing. It means I can invest in further education into online marketing and new technology. It means I can take holidays.
Attitude is essential in any business but especially in service businesses such as ours. People are smarter and more perceptive than we think – they can smell the stinky attitude of a “false positive” person.
Too often, we work ourselves into the ground, get involved in every tiny process in our business, and forgo holidays in the hope that “someday” we’ll find the time, the cash and the headspace to take a break.
Since losing my mojo, I’ve rebuilt my approach from the ground up.
I’ve adopted some fantastic new practices, such as taking my trusty laptop out on excursions to cafes, restaurants and art galleries, to sit and ruminate, to dwell and create. I regularly go out with colleagues working in the same industry, to debrief, decompress and share information and assistance. And I’ve started taking out my smartest girlfriends for special spa dates to talk business. I treat my attitude as the business asset that it is.
Get your mojo back
- Get enough sleep, every night.
- Take responsibility for the way people treat you.
- Revise your terms and conditions.
- Consider raising your prices.
- Review your business model.
- Invest in your business and your education.
- Take a holiday.
- Make joy and celebration part of your business.
- Protect and invest in your attitude, just like a business asset.