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What To Do When You Feel Stuck: 6 Tips For Entrepreneurs


Barnaby Lashbrooke

Founder and CEO of Time etc, author of The Hard Work Myth

8 minute read

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As an entrepreneur, it can feel like you’re constantly on the move. You’re always working towards various targets and pursuing new ways to grow your business. But sometimes, even when you’re hustling as hard as you can, things can slow down. You might feel stuck and uncertain of what to do next. Don’t worry—we’ve got you covered!

These tried-and-tested tips will help you to get unstuck and move your business forward again.

Redefine your goals

When you feel stuck, it's helpful to take a step back and take another look at your goals. This can help you gain some much-needed clarity on where you need to focus your efforts and help you get back on track if you’ve strayed from your original plans.

Are your goals still aligned with where you want to be? Have your priorities shifted since you first set them? If so, it might be worth redefining them or reworking them to make them more relevant.

But of course, just having a goal by itself is only half the battle. Ask yourself, what would need to happen for it to become a reality? Let’s say, for example, your goal is to increase your revenue by 50% over the next year. Which tasks would be the stepping stones that lead you to that endpoint? Some examples could be:

  • Implement a new marketing plan
  • Review your pricing strategy
  • Launch a new product
  • Enhanced training for your employees

Naturally, each of these short-term objectives can also be broken down into smaller steps. The more you break them down, the less overwhelming they’ll feel.

Focusing on the actions that move you closer to your goals will go a long way in helping you to achieve more in less time.

Focus on strengths

Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in all of the things that you're doing "wrong" — but it's equally important to remember your victories and accomplishments. In the end, they are what got you here in the first place, and will keep you going throughout your business journey.

We all have so many valuable skills and inherent traits where we excel, yet ever since our first report cards at school, the onus has always been on the areas that “need improvement” or where we “must try harder”. I’m not suggesting we ignore our weaknesses completely, that would be pretty terrible advice. But rather than spending vast amounts of energy on getting a little better at our weaker areas, focusing on our strengths is where we’re most likely to thrive in our work.

Think of the tasks you love to do, the ones where you can easily lose yourself and hours feel like minutes. Think of the skills that have always come naturally to you. Think of the tasks where if your day was filled purely with these activities you would feel energized and happy. Having that passion and proficiency is what will make it possible to dedicate the time, energy, and effort required to push your business to new heights.

But it’s not just your own strengths you should be thinking about. A study by Gallup found that employees feel more confident, self-aware, and productive when focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses.

“When you put strengths at the core, you create a culture that focuses on the continual growth, improvement and understanding of everyone in the organization. People collaborate better -- and teams experience 17% higher productivity and 21% higher profitability.” - Gallup

So if a particular task or area is not your strongest suit, it may be one of your team members’. What may take you an hour to complete could take them half the time. Their passion for the task could mean an enhanced level of creativity, care, and focus that produces a significantly improved final product.

Giving everyone in your business (including yourself!) the opportunity to put their unique, innate talents to good use is one of the most effective ways to make the most of your business. From higher engagement and motivation to an increased quality of work across the board, you’ll notice the impact everywhere.

Work on the right tasks

According to findings from recent reports, there’s a strong likelihood that the type of tasks you work on each day is holding you back.

The majority of tasks we are used to dealing with on a regular basis do very little to further our careers or move us closer to our goals, yet this is where business owners spend most of their time. On average, business owners spend 68% of their time on these tasks and only 32% of their time on activities that lead to increased profitability and growth.

When your time and energy are divided this way, you’re likely to always feel busy, but what you get out is unlikely to match the effort you’re putting in. This is a slippery slope that often leads to burnout, and is a major factor in why only around 33% of businesses reach their 10th birthday.

While there is a lot to be said for the value of hard work, it’s working smarter that holds the key to lasting, long-term success. Instead of the current average of 32% of time dedicated to growing their businesses, business owners should be spending closer to 90% of their time on high-impact tasks. If you’re wondering how such a significant switch-up could be possible, this leads us nicely to my next point…

Delegate time-wasting tasks

When I say that you need to be spending 90% of your time on the most impactful tasks to push your business forward, that’s not to say all those other tasks should be forgotten about completely. Emails will still need replies, meetings will still need to be booked, invoices will still need to be sent, and so on. While they do not have the most immediate impact in adding value to your growth journey, you might struggle to get very far without them. The answer is to place these tasks in the hands of an experienced professional.

But if you’re used to doing everything yourself, this can be much easier said than done. There are many reasons why business owners struggle to delegate tasks. However, delegation is a crucial skill for leaders.

If a task has any of the following qualities, you should at least consider offloading it:

  • Your own expertise isn’t required for completion. Anyone could do it with the right instructions.
  • It’s repetitive and/or completed on a routine basis. Think daily, weekly, or monthly tasks here.
  • It sucks away your time without an adequate return on investment. It needs to get done but sometimes feels like a waste of time.
  • You don’t enjoy doing it, so you often put it off until it becomes critical.
  • You do enjoy doing it, but it’s not essential and is often neglected.

Gather feedback

When you’re feeling stuck, it's helpful to get new perspectives.

One way to do this is by reaching out to clients and customers for feedback. Surveys, online reviews, or even just casual conversations can all be great places to start. But you don’t have to stop there — feedback from employees can also be a goldmine of useful information. You can gather employee feedback through one-on-one meetings, internal surveys, or even an anonymous suggestion box.

From improvements to internal processes to ideas for new products, the insights and inspiration you can gain from listening to your employees, customers, and peers can be invaluable to help drive your business forward.

Of course, collecting this feedback is important, but collating the results is a task that’s a prime candidate for delegation.

Review your target market

If you’re not happy with the progress your business is making, it might be time to inspect your target market.

Do you have a clear understanding of the customers or clients you are trying to attract? Does this match up with who is actually buying your products or services?

Target market research can be a whole science in itself, but there are some simple things you can do to gain a better understanding of where you should focus your efforts.

Common forms of research include interviews, focus groups, and buyer persona research. These can be very valuable in determining characteristics such as age, gender, location, income, industry, and any challenges they may face. You could reach out to a segment of recent customers via email, or post a call for candidates on social media. In both cases, you may want to offer an incentive to compensate them for their time.

Although, a recent report found that product or service use research (how and why your audience uses your product or service) was rated the most highly in terms of usefulness for discovering user insights, so this is another option you may want to consider.

By taking the time to learn more about your users, you can focus your efforts more effectively and make better business decisions.

What’s the bottom line?

One of the worst feelings an entrepreneur can have is feeling stuck. You’re doing the same thing over and over again, but you aren’t seeing the results you want. It can be disheartening, to say the least, but being stuck doesn’t have to spell the end of your business.

The worst thing you can do when you feel stuck is nothing at all. As the saying goes, “If nothing changes, nothing changes”. It’s just a matter of getting out of your comfort zone and taking action. By reexamining your goals, focusing on strengths, and prioritizing the most effective and impactful tasks, you can get the ball rolling again.

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About the author

Barnaby Lashbrooke is the founder and CEO of Virtual Assistant service Time etc as well as the author of The Hard Work Myth, recently recommended by Sir Richard Branson. Barnaby is a Forbes Columnist on productivity and is also an accomplished entrepreneur, selling more than $35 million worth of services.

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