Entrepreneur, Burnout

#AllTheThings Can Lead to Nothing in Your Small Business

Guest Post by: Nicolina McHugh

Sometimes being told what we should do just sucks. Pizza isn’t good for you: you should eat less pizza. Caffeine isn’t great for you: you should stop drinking coffee. 

Um, no. I’ll fight you for my caffeine and pizza!

“Should” is a word that we hear all the time and in business, it’s no different. We should be doing #allthethings. We should be posting to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, hopping on Periscope and pinning everything we possibly can. Well, I don’t agree with that at all. In fact, I think that is probably one of the worst strategies you can possibly use when your business is just starting out. 

Sometimes being told what we should do just sucks. Pizza isn’t good for you: you should eat less pizza. Caffeine isn’t great for you: you should stop drinking coffee. “Should” is a word that we hear all the time and in business, it’s no different. We should be doing #allthethings. We should be posting to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, hopping on Periscope and pinning everything we possibly can. Well, I don’t agree with that at all. In fact, I think that is probably one of the worst strategies you can possibly use when your business is just starting out. | Think Creative Collective

Let’s be real. 

Are you able to keep up with all of those platforms? Maybe.

Are all of those platforms helping you? Maybe.

But don’t you think that all the things you have going on could be better if you were doing what you wanted to do rather than what “they” (whoever they are) says you should be doing? I do. 

My Confession

I don’t like Facebook.

I know. It doesn’t sound right. I know it’s weird to read. 

But I really don’t like Facebook. 

I have a Facebook account for the following reasons:

  • I live over 1,000 miles from where a large portion of my friends are and where I grew up;
  • These friends have kids that I NEVER get to see and they post great videos and photos of;
  • I have siblings in nearly every continental U.S. time zone, and
  • I enjoy being part of Facebook groups that I am in.

I don’t like promoting myself on Facebook. I use Facebook to keep up with my family and friends who I don’t live anywhere near. 

Should I be on Facebook for my business? “They” say I should

But I don’t want to. And I’m not going to, at least not right now. 

Do You, Sweets

You struck out into your own business for a reason. You have the gumption to say, “I am not going to do it your way, I’m going to do it mine.” 

So why are you on social platforms you don’t like and that give you no joy? 

I can give you five reasons right now why you should only be doing social media you actually like to do:

  1. You’re more likely to actually post. What is the point of social media promotion if you’re not posting? There isn’t one. By doing something you actually like, you are far more likely to use the platform;
  2. You’re more likely to engage. Social media isn’t a soapbox or a bullhorn. Social media is all about building genuine relationships. If you aren’t enjoying your platform, you’re not going to engage with people that matter to your business (influencers, your potential customers, even your biggest fans;)
  3. You’ll put in more effort. Humans are tricky this way. We work harder at what we actually want rather than what we are supposed to do. (I see you posting on Twitter during business hours : ) );
  4. It won’t feel like work. Social media is supposed to be a fun and engaging platform full of personality and personal connection. If you’re having fun, it won’t feel like work, and
  5. It’s your decision, boss. Yeah. You’re the boss. Make the decision to do what you want rather than what “they” say. It’s your prerogative, boss. 

Well, How Does This Work?

Like most things, the “theys” of the world aren’t always entirely wrong. “They” suggest certain social platforms based on how the platforms work for brands and how high engagement is. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, Pinterest, and even sites like Bloglovin’ can all work for you in just about any industry. 

What I want to see you do is make a list of all of the social platforms that you are on right now. Is it scary to see them all written out? Are they actually just a couple? Great either way, boss, because you may or may not stick with everything that you have in front of you right now. 

Think of this as KonMari for your social media. 

Take a moment (as long as you need) and hold that social media platform in your mental hands and ask yourself:

  • How do I feel when I’m creating content for this platform?
  • Do I enjoy engaging with people on this platform?
  • Is this platform benefitting my business or blog?
  • Am I having fun?

Answer honestly, give yourself grace, and most importantly, be cool with the outcome one way or another. This kind of evaluation may stink at first because you’ve put a lot of work into your platform and your following. 

It’s incredibly liberating to no longer be bound to something that you don’t want to be doing in the first place. 

One little tidbit about this process: 

Don’t stress about your following. There’s a good chance that they are already on your favorite social platforms. If you have the right kind of following (number is irrelevant here) they will be on Instagram with you if you decide that Twitter just isn’t your jam. Talk to your people. They are with you for a reason and if you just have a conversation with them, they’ll be cool. 

It’s a Season

I love cheesy headlines.

Everything has seasons. You’re going to change and grow and your business and social media are going to change and grow too. 

This may not be the season for Twitter. It may be the season for Facebook. Your needs and preferences are going to change, but you may never go back to the platforms you didn’t like to begin with. And that’s okay. 

Just remember that you’re the boss. “They” may be “experts”, but you know what you like, what you need, where your audience is, and what you are capable of. “They” can like it or not. Decide what you want and go for it. 

About the Author

I’m Nicolina McHugh, and I’m a graphic designer and marketer.
I help small creative business owners and bloggers who want design and marketing peace of mind to brand, develop branding, and market successfully. I know that with the right tools, you and your business can accomplish truly incredible things.
Based in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, I blog, design, and social media my way through the internet, sharing what I can about marketing and design to help amazing people start (or continue) doing the amazing things that they do.
You can find me at nicolinamchugh.com or on Twitter and Instagram,  where I share updates to the blog, musings, content I love from around the web, and the occasional picture of my fur baby playing forts in Trader Joe's bags or just being too fabulous to care.

Nicolina McHugh, Nicolina McHugh    

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inspiration, Entrepreneur, Burnout

Why "Dieting" Is Hurting Your Small Business

You gotta quit. It is hurting your performance. You are always miserable and you aren’t really reaching the goals you set out to when you started.

Why "Dieting" Is Hurting Your Small Business  |  Think Creative

Ok, ok, I don’t mean literally dieting. What you do with your body is completely up to you! I mean the act of dieting.

See when you “diet” you have a pre-determined regimen of what you think you should do everyday – perhaps it is cutting sugar or pumping up the protein intake.

In your business that diet probably includes:

  • Blogging Obsessively 
  • Spending time on every Social Media Channel
  • Answering Every Email the Moment They Arrive
  • Getting Everything on Your List Done Everyday
  • Finishing Client Work that Comes as a Rush Job
  • Constantly Curating Images of Your Work

In essence, you are working your tail off until you have reached a magical level of business perfection. Like dieting you can maintain or sustain these habits for a few days, a few weeks or maybe even a few months; but eventually you will want to return to “life” as you once knew it.

Instead of bingeing on habit changes, what if instead you focused on little changes. 

Challenge yourself to doing a little bit everyday, forming new, healthy habits and over time you will see giant strides. 

Sure Biz “Dieting” can lead to inflated follower growth, new clients or customers, but it is not sustainable for the long haul.

For the next 30 days challenge yourself to make 1 small change a week. Then do it everyday. As the weeks go by it becomes second nature.

For me, blogging has become a part of my life and a part of my business. By forcing it upon my self to blog 5 days a week, it started to really burn me out. I wish instead of starting out blogging 5 days a week I had embraced a lighter, more manageable amount and worked up over time. However, with some modifications to my initial blogging habits it has become a much healthier business practice. 

Stop dieting! Your business will thank you later. 

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Goals, Burnout, Entrepreneur

How to Avoid Burnout

Whether you are a small business owner, entrepreneur or still working that corporate gig, avoiding burnout is a major concern. Reaching that level where you are left uninspired, wasting half your day worrying about what you actually need to be doing and feeling completely overwhelmed is just no place to be. Unfortunately I have been there, and my guess is at one point or another you have too.

How to Avoid Burnout  |  5 Strategies to get you out of the dumps, remotivated and on the way to a more fulfilling life and career!  |  Think Creative

“Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest or motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place. (source)”

You may be on the quick lane to burnout if:

  • Everyday is worse than the last
  • You hate working, getting up for work or being at work.
  • You’re constantly exhausted, no matter how much sleep you had the night before
  • You’re either completely overwhelmed or find everything you do boring
  • You feel under appreciated and overworked
  • “Nothing” you do makes a difference

This my friend is the fast track to being miserable at work, taking all that stress and un-comfortableness home and might very well land you in a therapist office. (Yes I can say that because I have been there, done that to all 3!)

The Difference Between Stress and Burnout

This is no joking matter; burnout is recognized as a psychological condition. I may not be a therapist, but getting to this point is not a place you want to land. By and large stress is all about having too much demand on you, whether that be physically or psychologically. The biggest differentiator is stressed people can still imagine, some even function better with minor constant stress. That last minute procrastinator begs for it.

Burnout, however, is about feeling empty. If you reach the point where nothing will motivate you and you no longer care. Often your emotions are blunt and you feel hopeless or helpless.

Road to Recovery

The first step to solving any problem is recognizing when there is a problem.  Sometimes when trying to avoid or prevent burnout you are actually already past your breaking point. If that is the case take it seriously. “Pushing through” can lead to more damage than good. Here are my 5 steps to prevent burnout or put recovery in motion:

Strategy #1: Slow Down

Generally when you are approaching (or already have) burnout you are used to running a million miles an hour through life. You probably have too many commitments. Or the ones you do have are draining you. Take a break, cut back. Tell someone no for a change. You don’t have to run a marathon, coach your daughters softball league, volunteer 15 hours a week, be on the PTA, work full time and usher every Sunday. It really is ok to commit to less. This is hard pressed for me to say, you really should see the laundry list of things I was up to when I hit this wall myself. And when you do take a breather, don’t blame yourself. Just because you cut down or cut back doesn’t make you any less of a person. Give yourself time to rest, relax, reflect and heal!

Strategy #2: Get Support

Naturally you are tempted to pull back, curl in a ball and just “be alone." But if you are feeling overworked and exhausted you need support. Reach out to your friends and family. Let them know what is going on. You don’t have to give them some sob story, just ask for backup. “

Hey mom, can you pick up the kids on Saturday?” “Hey hun, can you be in charge of laundry this week?” “Boss man, can we evaluate top priorities so I know where to spend my time and energy?” “Pretty lady, I need to adjust my volunteer schedule this month, can I help find a replacement so you aren’t left in the dark?”

You may get some eye rolls and potentially even a few shrugs, however, if you are real with people they are generally receptive. Your spouse and your kids might need an extra nudge or two and if they are around you often they know you could use the support. Sometimes a reminder is just helpful.

Strategy #3: Reevaluate Priorities

Whether life or work has you down in a funk you probably aren’t doing a very good job at either right now. Spend some time focusing on what you actually want to do. Who you want to work with. What lifestyle you want to lead. Chances are, you are putting all your energy into something that is probably not in your best interest in the long run. Spend some time evaluating how you want to shift these priorities around.

If mine don’t fit into Faith, Family, Friends or helping others, I probably am going to dread every minute of it. Shaping your life and your work around your priorities is going to make a lasting difference.

After you have those core priorities in place, create 3-5 goals that align with each priority. If you have no idea where to start, try this simple exercise to begin creating balance where there is chaos. But generally speaking, Work/Life Balance is Crap!

Strategy #4: Get Re-Inspired

After you had that moment to breathe and you see your priorities more clearly you might start to feel the fog fading. Take this opportunity to find ways to get re-inspired. For everyone it is different, but some of my favorites are:

  • Reading a Self-Help Book (Because we all need help!)
  • Browsing Pinterest
  • Participating in Facebook Groups
  • Watching Shark Tank (My secret, not so secret obsession)
  • Going to a Farmers Market (Probably just a secret ploy to get me some fresh flowers)
  • Walking the Neighborhood with my Husband & favorite Dog, Tilly
  • Traveling
  • Visiting an Art Museum or Exhibit
  • Getting Crafty (i.e. Painting something, making something with my hands)
  • Sifting through Instagram Hashtags

(And the reasons there are so many links in that list, is because I WAS BURNT OUT, and I had to re-inspire myself! And you were lucky enough to be a part of that process whether you realized it or not.)

Strategy #5: Reach Your New Goals

By now you are probably ready to get started again. You have rearranged your life enough, starting over doesn’t seem as scary as it did a few weeks (or months ago). Now is the time to take those priorities you set and goals you created and put the plan in place to start achieving them. My goals were a bit overwhelming, but I got all the right people on board and slowly but surely I am marking them complete. My timelines have to be reanalyzed often, but I am not as hard on myself when things don’t pan out exactly how I expected. Over the next couple weeks stay tuned for some exciting announcements, when these goals start to unfold before you!

What are your goals? How to you plan on getting re-inspired? What is your strategy for avoiding burnout?