If you have been on my blog lately you would know something is amiss. Did you notice that I have been unnaturally quiet for the past month everywhere - the podcast, the blog, social media? I decided to hit pause. 2015 started a bit slow and then it picked up with so much fervor that it was imperative for me to stop and examine the path that I was running.
So while I was introspecting and brainstorming and honestly let me throw in a good amount of lazing around….(I can’t really hide much from you can I?), I had quite a few revelations, some disjointed but powerful revelations nonetheless and some that were more intuitive but definitely needed more attention.
So here’s my quick entrepreneurial lessons after a month long hiatus.
Take a break from Social Media NOT from Creativity
Thinking outside the box and coming up with a barrage of ideas is a hallmark of an entrepreneur. We are constantly filing away a great idea for a blog post, a quote to be used in the next speech, the next big idea and much much more. Before I went on my month long hiatus, I would write everyday, even if it was just a few hundred words and not an entire blog post, I wrote.
And then I decided that a break meant a clean break, that meant break from everything. Oh boy was I mistaken. It took Smita a while to get her groove back.
I realized the importance of keeping your creative wheels oiled at all times. I could have written every day of the month. In the airplane, could have stolen a few moments away from the extended family in the mornings, gone up to the terrace for a few minutes of writing. Yes, I could have. But I didn’t.
And so when I came back, it was hard to write. All my ideas and my enthusiasm faded into the distance and although I was excited to get back to work, those words and the ideas that came so easily seemed to be stuck in a laundry cycle that never seemed to stop. If only it would stop so that I could get some fresh ideas out!
Social media will embrace you with open arms even if you show up after a year but creativity will definitely be rusty and it’ll take a lot of time to push open that heavy metal door and not to forget the loud creaking and the cobwebs you’ll have to clear out first.
If you want to create magic, embed those creative habits so deep in you that they become a part of you. So next time you go on a camping trip, you will find the extra 20 min to write out the first chapter of your book on a little notepad.
You can’t predict a thing, so make yourself mentally strong
I have always been a runner. When I travel, I take my shoes with me and try to find the time to run in the morning. This recent vacation was a little different though, we can talk later about my lack of enthusiasm to run while a million eyes are watching you. Running in a new place, on a new path is always fun. I can never predict which way the trail curves or what new bird I get to see or maybe that little creek that runs parallel for half the way. It’s an experience.
Entrepreneurial journey is somewhat similar. While I was on a month long hiatus, I started a Marketing, Branding and PR firm and secured 4 major clients - corporate and small business. I was not expecting it, it was certainly in my radar to start my own boutique firm but I didn't know it would happen so soon. I hadn’t predicted it but the clients came to me and I couldn’t say no. And so in my so called hiatus month, I started my own agency.
Entrepreneurship is full of surprises and you can never predict what’s going to happen but what you can predict, is your mental toughness. Make yourself ready for anything, success as well as failure. Be ready for a great new opportunity that may come your way when you are least expecting it and be ready for a rejection when you are most wanting it. The only way to tackle the ups and downs, unpredictability and the ultimate rush of entrepreneurship is to be strong and cultivate a “can do” and “keep going” attitude.
The only way to overcome procrastination is goal setting
Procrastination doesn’t crop its ugly head when you are genuinely busy and have a goal to achieve. Every night I write out my daily tasks for the next day. There are steps toward achieving my goals. I had an agenda, I didn’t have to think about what I was going to do that day. And if I had some extra minutes to spare, all that adrenaline rush that comes with completing the tasks would help me get a head start on something that wasn't on that day's agenda. The feeling of accomplishment and not having enough hours in a day to do what you love was a constant companion. And then I took a break.
My only agenda was to introspect. I justified that thinking could be done at any time, I could definitely steal a few minutes and watch an episode of Scandal. That one episode turned to 3 and then the whole series for 3 days. Wait, that was just one of the time sucking series that I saw. I dare not tell you how many more there were. That was not the end of it though. I sure did feel guilty but one more before I sit down and think. It was a vicious circle.
And then I remembered my goal setting. I staggered a bit in the beginning with a mix of kids,home and work goals and then slowly but surely got back on track. So even if you take an intentional break and decide to binge watch TV, don’t forget to give yourself small goals to keep procrastination at bay.
Consistency is Key
I talk about this all the time and this little infamous break sure proved it. By consistently putting content out there, I was steadily gaining followers on social media and new email sign-ups. With no new content out for a month, those followers and sign-ups were much lesser.
In the online space, you have to be fresh and consistent. Your followers need to see that you are active and that you are bringing value to them. There are probably hundreds of other people out there that are doing what you are doing, by not being consistent you are giving them an opportunity to take your followers away.
So keep putting out consistent content and the followers and sign-ups will come. I have most definitely learnt that some of my content needs to be pre-loaded to go out next time I am travelling outside the country and some blogs that need to be written in real time.
These are my biggest lessons I learnt after a month long hiatus from work. Some mistakes that I am not making again and some that can be rectified by putting appropriate systems in place.