At the beginning of 2014 I found myself in a phase of business depression. Everything I did seemed like I was just spinning my wheels. I worked day and night but never made any real progress, and I was becoming more and more uninspired.
How did I go from being so excited about the career I was building to dreading my work? Here’s what I did to turn my struggling business around, and change my mindset so I could start enjoying work again.
1. Create a Client Comparison List.
The first thing I did was grab a large sketchpad (you can use a chalkboard or whiteboard too). Then, I wrote out a list of each client I was currently working with. If you prefer, you can also list them by project or type of work.
Write out these categories at the top of the page: client or project name, type of work, hours spent, rate/pay, total hours, total pay, and notes/misc. You can also use a spreadsheet template so it’s easy to continue this practice each quarter.
How does your workload stack up? Which clients pay you the most, and which projects are taking way too long? You might think you know the answer when you start this comparison list, but you may be surprised. I know I was when I did this exercise, and never dreamed that a few projects would bubble to the surface like they did.
2. Evaluate Each Project.
Now that you’ve listed out ALL of your clients and projects, it’s time to rate them based on which ones excite you the most, down to the least enjoyable ones. (Don’t worry, the outcome will just stay between you and me.)
Do you need to drop a client? Which projects need to be left behind? Which clients should you to chat with about a raise? Circle these and take action THIS WEEK to remedy them! But remember, it’s not only important to factor in how much you get paid, but also how much you like (or dislike) the project, and if it works with your energy levels.
I have clients that pay me a premium for my work ($150+ an hour), but I find the ones that only pay me $50 or $75 also provide the most enjoyable projects (and give me the most satisfaction).
3. See What Matches Your Goals.
Another way to compare your clients and projects side-by-side is to determine what lines up with your priorities. Does this work help push your career and business goals forward? Is it helping or hurting your future?
Again, money isn’t everything in this case. You may have an influential contact who’s easy to work with and send lots of opportunities your way, but they may only pay you a small amount. Depending where you’re at with your business, this may be more important to you than a high hourly rate.
Go down the list and ask yourself if this client or work matches your goals, and lines up to what’s on your list of priorities. Is it hurting or helping your career? If the result is negative, then it could be what’s keeping you stuck and feeling uninspired.
Three Steps to Turn Your Struggling Business Around
Anytime you feel stuck in your business, take these steps and you’ll see a big change within just 24 hours. When I did this for the first time, my mind was blown and I had a complete mental shift.
Comparing each project side-by-side is seriously an eye-opener, and when you take actions to eliminate the things that don’t push you forward, you can start making progress again.