Riding the wave: How I deal with the highs and lows of starting my first business

I have been struggling with the ups and downs and the inconsistencies of building a new business. Becoming a Virtual Assistant for Indie Hackers has been a journey.
I have found that I can have some successful days. Success could be anything from a tweet interaction, scheduling a discovery call with someone new or just feeling confident that I'm on the right track. Then the down days come, you know what they say, when it rains oh baby it pours!⛈ There are no bites, I'm completely lost in what to do next and I'm scared that I'll never make any real money. I decided I needed some advice.
I found a plethora of articles that were focused towards entrepreneur veterans, successes and people who had gone through it and come out the other side. Don't get me wrong, this was useful to see and hear about the successes, but still, I felt like it wasn't relevant to my stage of the journey.
After a while of searching, I did finally come across a gem of an article that really spoke to me. An article by John Hall - How to stay motivated as you build your business.

John's words

Here are a few statements that I found really helpful and got me thinking.
Nearly everything in life experiences cycles. The solar system, hormones, your washing machine—and yes, even motivation. Movement is inherent in cycles.
Just keep moving, motivation requires constant care and feeding.
If you aren’t networking because you didn’t think it was worth your time, get out there. Not only will you pick up some great ideas, but you’ll also find yourself reinspired. Few things are as motivating as encountering other people’s enthusiasm for your business.
We all know that goals are important. If we fail to set them, how do we know when we have achieved something?
When motivation lags, roll up your sleeves, choose a task, and get back to the business-building at hand.
I recommend starting off with a smaller, achievable task. Starting off with a complicated one may be quite overwhelming and could push you back to square one.
I needed to see the bigger picture and John’s words made me feel like everything was going to be ok 🙌

How to get out of the funk

Here are some ideas for you to try out when you're a bit lost and lack motivation.

Understanding the funk

Understand why you're in a downer. What just happened?
Acknowledge your feelings and remind yourself that you will have your ups again. Everything comes back around. Take note of what made you feel this way, next time if something similar happens you'll be more prepared.

Get excited

What gets you in the mood to work?
It could be making the best coffee ever, singing your heart out to Journey, or a quick HIIT workout. Physical exercise releases Serotonin and Dopamine, which can stick around in your brain for a couple hours after you exercise. These chemicals are part of the group called the feel-good hormones. “Dopamine drives your brain’s reward chemical and Serotonin stabilises our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness”. So drop and give me 20!

Use the power

Once you know what gets you pumped, build habits around it.
It will take some time to build habits, but after a while it will feel easier to sit down and get cracking. Something I do to help me build my habits, is simply putting my habits/tasks on to a checklist.

Back to work

After I've sang my heart out to Journey, this is what I do to get back into ‘work mode’:
  • I make sure to sit at a desk/table. If I start my day on the sofa, I'm not going to achieve anything.
  • Put that phone on ‘do not disturb’.
  • I put my headphones in with no music, straight away I know this means work. This also helps me from getting distracted.

Remind yourself why

Remind yourself why you're doing this. In Start with why, Simon Sinek focuses on how great leaders from all different backgrounds and industries started with WHY and how this played a massive part in their success.
So make sure to remind yourself of your 'why'. When we say WHY, we mean what is your purpose, cause or belief? Why does your company exist? Why do you get out of bed every morning? Reinspire yourself.
I’d recommend having your business goals somewhere close so you can refer to it when you're stuck and remind yourself why you're doing it. This will also help you stay on track! Check out Marie Ng (Founder of Llama Life) who has a white board near their coffee machine to track progress! 👏

All in it together

Something else that helps me is knowing that I'm not the only one. Another book recommendation that really opened my eyes is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Steven focuses on resistance, how resistance affects your art and how to fight it. He also reminds you that everyone and their Nan faces the same struggles and that's ok!
This is a great book to read if you're struggling with the ups and downs.

Let's wrap up...

Just like John said in his article, you better do the work. No one is blessed with a successful business from the get go. Show up everyday and you will get there, you'll feel so much better knowing you worked for it too.
I’ve consciously been making an effort to use and build better habits into my working days. And so far, so good! Overall, I’m feeling a lot more positive and understand that there are cycles to everything. Sometimes I will need to remind myself to ride the wave. Understanding what plays into my funks, will prepare me for when they arrive. Now I’ve educated myself on WHY and HOW these things have happened, the funks will no longer be as hard hitting.
Something new that I have also started doing every morning, between the singing and plugging in my silent headphones is writing out a few lines reminding myself WHY. This gives me a surge of excitement, drive and motivation. I’ve got this.
Give it a go and let me know how you get on ✨