Problem solving

Business survival skills: Five tips

- December 10, 2008 3 MIN READ

Rebounding from a Really Bad Day is essential for the soloist, so here are some business survival skills to make bouncing back easier.

An RBD consists of unexpected and usually unwelcome events. It could include a promised payment not coming through when the tax is due tomorrow.

Next you may get a “Your application has not been successful” letter. And to top it off, the neighbours will choose that day to begin sunup-to-sunset, buzzsaw-symphony renovations.

As a soloist who works from home, I don’t have workmates to commiserate with about my run of obstacles. Plus nobody ever tells you that the wonderful world of solo business can be frustrating, annoying and downright disheartening when you take successive knocks.

But I’ve found that stewing doesn’t really help. It is much more productive, and feels way better, to do the things that allow my natural resilience to come to the fore. As such, over the years I’ve developed a little kitbag of activities, business survival skills and approaches that minimise the impact of the RBDs.

1. Breathe, it’s all going to be okay

The first thing I do, as the bumper sticker says, is remember to breathe. I know my capacity to cope and make tough decisions will be helped enormously by getting oxygen to my brain. I’ve found this simple step is surprisingly absent when under stress. While I breathe, I remind myself that I am capable of handling this and no matter what happens, everything will be okay. I know I have faced adversity in the past and I will face it in the future. It’s just part of life and I can get through it.

2. Try to ascertain: why is this so important?

It can be quite surprising what my reaction to an RBD reveals about what I think is important. Recently I was shocked to realise that I was catastrophising an event because I still wanted the approval of others and still felt a competitive need to win at all costs. Sometimes my reaction is something as simple as wanting my work not to be in vain. Once I understand what’s behind my response then I can bring my focus back to what is really important. Do I have loving and supportive friends and family? Am I doing meaningful work? Am I laughing? If those things still exist then I’m doing okay.

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3. Take action

You know the saying, “What you focus on is what you become”? I’ve found that ruminating on a problem gets me nowhere. For me, it’s essential to do something tangible which shows me that I continue to have choices and can be an active player in my own life. It could be the simplest of phone calls to query a letter, sitting down and revising my business plan, or talking to a friend to get a second opinion or different perspective. Okay, vent.

4. Change my state

Sometimes, despite doing all of the above, my mind will continue churning through the situation. It’s then that I know I need to actively change my state. If I need to bounce back quickly there are simple activities such as journaling, going for a walk, meditating, watching TV, or calling a friend which will shift my focus. It just needs to be something that will short-circuit the cognitive loop that’s locked into the problem.

5. Stay optimistic and mindful

While I have no delusions of being able to control everything in my world, I do know there are business survival skills I can develop which work for me in times of adversity. By being optimistic and having a positive focus while being aware of reality, I am better equipped to bounce back in business and in life. I’ve also found ongoing mindfulness, and an acceptance of the is-ness of business diffuses a lot of the drama associated with adversity as I come to accept that my RBD is just my interpretation.

In fact, perhaps instead of dreading the Really Bad Day, from now on I’ll look fondly on my RBD days as the times when I made Really Brilliant Decisions.

So what’s in your bouncing back kitbag? What business survival skills help you keep going through the hard times as a soloist?

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  • Andrew Caska

    Caska IP Patent Attorneys

    'Flying Solo opened up so many doors for us - I honestly don't know where I'd be without it"