"It's not how far you fall, it's how high you bounce when you reach bottom."
I wish I knew who said that, because I have spent the last two years testing this theory and now know I have plenty of bounce in me. Two years ago when the Internet began to rock and rumble on an economy rollercoaster, I thought that would be my biggest struggle. Staying on top and moving forward in the ever changing economy became my focus. Then life laughed at me by throwing me a bigger curve. I discovered that my biggest struggle wouldn't be about business but about life. I got cancer. The big "C" word that even with today's medical miracles brought fear and trepidation to my soul.
At first I thought, "Okay, no big deal. I'll have chemo, I'll run my business, everything will be fine." Keep in mind that I was a 17-hour a day working war horse that had workaholic stamped on my forehead. I was proud of that. I was, until the real war started. The war with my body and soul that gave me back my life and taught me a great deal about running an efficient business along with having a real life.
Okay I admit, as it goes, I'm not the fastest learner in the west. It did take nearly two years for all the lessons to really sink in. First, I pretended it was no big deal, then I thought, "It's a huge big deal," then I found my pace and started to learn which is when I started to heal both body and soul. And now I'm back, having bounced a few hundred times and the better for it. So here is what I learned about running a better bouncing business having survived a two-year struggle to live.
1. First On The List, Time Off Is Not A Sin, But A Necessity.
If you don't decide to get this now, your body will decide it for you sometime in the future. Sometime when it's sick and tired, literally, of putting up with you. Time off isn't just necessary for good health, good relationships, it's also good for your business. Some of my best ideas came to me after I had been bed-bound for almost three months. The first month I fought the inner turmoil of having to be in bed, the second month I was just plain sick, and the third month as I started to get rested my creativity returned -- a creativity that I hadn't experienced since my twenties. If you are not taking time off and you're patting yourself on the back for it? Stop. You're only kidding yourself and your business IS suffering for it.
2. Anger Isn't Worth Toting Around.
Business comes with its levels of anger. Those clients that "never" get it, the complainers, the accusers, the cowards who turn brave in email. Anyone in business on the Internet knows what I'm talking about. The trouble is, if you're internalizing all of this riff raff, you're stifling your business energy. Bottling it all up will only build a bottle bomb set to go off at the most inconvenient times. Learn to process those frustrations. The best advice ever given to me was to write an email to the "accused" and then mail it to myself. Preset your subject lines so that when that email returns to you it automatically goes into the trash. This way you keep your professionalism, but get it out at the same time and no one gets hurt.
Let other people be responsible for their emotions. If you have an angry client, give them room to deal with it, and then look to find solutions. Just because your client is angry does not mean that you are at fault and it certainly does not mean you have to join them in their emotional roller coaster. Be kind to yourself. Be in control of your emotional harmony.
3. Families Are Forever, Money Isn't.
If your family never sees you, you can bet they aren't in love with your business. If your laptop seems to be an umbilical cord to your brain, it's time to step back and realign your priorities. Set business hours so that your family knows when you are off and when you are available. Then spend those off hours with them so that they can support you during your working hours. Let's face it, all that money you're making is going to them when you die anyway and they'd prefer to have you than a bank account.
4. Persistence ISN'T Just A Good Idea.
You've heard over and over again that you have to have persistence. However, until your life depends on it, you might not really understand that persistence isn't just a good idea, it's an action verb. Persistence means sticking with your goals. Sticking with your goals doesn't mean dreaming about them, but working toward them. WORK is the four letter word you are allowed to say. Make it a mantra. Mine is, "I won't live a lazy life". Don't just think about persistence, do something about it.
5. Follow Up Or Fall Out.
Okay, this is a biggie. In the Internet world, there is a great deal of silence between you and your client. There generally isn't an office they can pop into to check you out, so follow up becomes even more important. I had amazing doctors through my sickness and what they had in spades was the follow up. I never felt alone, and it was then that I knew my clients should never feel alone either.
6. Passion Equals Courage.
Passion comes from the most unlikely sources. I didn't realize until I had gotten sick that I had lost my passion. Oh, I was working long hours, and putting everything I had into my business, but I didn't feel anything anymore. I had lost myself in my work. After my second round of chemo I discovered my passion again, my passion for life. And with that passion came courage. The courage to risk, the courage to feel, the courage to believe. Once I had that back, I started making changes to my online businesses that brought back my energy and enthusiasm. In order to find the courage to take new risks, you need to find your passion again.
7. Fight Like Your Life Depends On It.
Never say die. No one has said it better than that. That includes your business. If your business is important to you, if you love it but it's struggling, dig your heels in and fight, fight, fight. Find out what you need to do to stabilize your business by learning from others. Ebooks, online experts, ezines, books, hardcopy magazines, online courses and more can help you gain the knowledge you need to push your business forward. Dig out everything available and don't stop until you succeed.
8. Listen To Instincts
Instincts really kick in when you get sick. I'm not sure what it is, but life's real traumas energize your instincts and suddenly what you couldn't hear comes in sounding like a megaphone from your soul. Your instincts are your inner road to success. I had lost touch with mine until I got sick and then all the things that weren't working for me suddenly became clear as glass. I recently read a book called The Joy Diet. It's intended to help you find more joy in your life. One tool is to spend 15 minutes a day in complete silence. Once I started practicing this, I realized that my instincts were also becoming more and more honed. It's such a simple exercise that can make a huge difference in your life and your business.
9. Whiners Never Win.
This is a hard one. Quite frankly there are times when I love to whine. I wish I could say differently, but it is so. However, after my diagnosis and weeks of treatment, followed by remission, and then sickness again…I came face to face with the whiner in my mirror. I faced my own facts, that whining wasn't going to get me out of this, wasn't going to make it better, and wasn't going to help anyone around me, including me. The sooner you cancel the order for cheese with your whine, the better off you'll be. Only then will you discover your own real power.
10. Cancer Teaches You About Life, and Yes Work is Part of That.
Some people are going to say "Geesh Anne, you got cancer, almost died and all you learned is how to run your business better? Nope. I learned that life is about all the degrees. Family, passion, inner peace, breakfast, lunch, dinner, paying the bills, and, yes, business. It'd be great if after a bout with cancer we could all give up work and just be with our families, or join a monastery and commune, but the fact is real life requires all sorts of responsibilities and if you're a business owner, running that business is part of it. It's okay if your business is important to you, it's even better if it's a passion in your life, but if it's all you have then your life is out of whack and you aren't giving your business all that you could. Balance is key to a long, stable, healthy business as well as a long, stable, healthy life. Better to learn it now, than have life teach it to you.
Anne Marie Baugh is a noted publicist and also owns and operates Write-Promotion, an online business that works hands-on with businesses looking for promotional avenues and avenues to cyber-success! Visit her web site at http://www.write-promotion.com or write to: firstname.lastname@example.org.