Running your own business can be brilliant: you’re following your dream, breaking away from the normal 9 to 5, and taking charge of your own life. However, you’re also taking on a mountain of new problems, stresses, and responsibilities, and on days when you’d rather stay in bed than go and face the latest crisis.When you’ve poured your heart and soul, time and financial stability into a business, it can get hair-raising if things don’t go to plan. There’s no shame in admitting that something hasn’t worked out: you aren’t the first entrepreneur to stumble, and you certainly won’t be the last.
There’s nothing wrong with making mistakes; after all how else can you expect to learn? Mistakes are part and parcel of starting your own business, so be prepared for the time when it’s going to feel like the sky falling down around your ears, and get ready to ask for help.
You might only need something as simple as an outsider’s point of view to get you back on track, or it might be more complex – either way, there are plenty of people who can be there for you in times like this.
Stop worrying about what you can’t solve, and start at the bottom. Pick the problems you can fix, and crack on! Leave the ones you can’t to when you’ve got some help. You aren’t on your own, despite the fact it may feel that way.
Friends and family
Help can often come from the most surprising places. You never know who you’re connected to in the six degrees of separation with friends and family. Try talking to your nearest and dearest: you might not want to offload, but even if all they can do is offer a cup of tea and a fresh pair of ears and eyes, it’s probably better than keeping everything to yourself. While you might not want to spill everything, having someone with whom you can share your worries and think through the solutions, can make a world of difference if you’re stressed out, pulling all-nighters, and anxious about the company’s future.
Whether this is an online forum, a networking group, or just a couple of you chatting at the pub, support groups can be a great relief. Not only will these people most likely be experiencing the same highs and lows as you, but they will be able to understand the odd working hours you have to put in and there to offer support, from a perspective that understands how much you’ve sacrificed. Finding support groups can be easy as looking on LinkedIn, using structures set up by organisations in your country, founded to help small business owners find similar people.
The Federation of Small Businesses is one of the UK’s leading business organisation, a non-profit group that campaigns for the interests and rights of small businesses and self-employed people. Getting involved with these guys will give you a wide range of business services, such as advice, protection and documents. Not only this, but you’ll be able to speak to people who know exactly what you’re doing, and be able to swap hints and tricks, and offer as much advice as you can.
Grants and awarding bodies
Perhaps all you need is an extra bit of cash, or recognition in order to raise spirits: if so, get in touch with as many awarding bodies as you can. There are a huge number of grants available throughout different industry sectors, and the business department of your government should be able to help you search for a suitable target. Find those which are applicable to you, and get applying! While it’s a long shot, and can’t be guaranteed as a certain solution, they can be a good motivational factor.
Someone who’s been-there-done-that can often be a saviour in times like this: they will have seen enough failures, problems, and blood-pressure-rising-scenarios to make yours seem like a walk in the park. A mentor can give you guidance and advice, and you’ll be learning from experience, not textbooks: what worked for them, and what didn’t. They’ll often have contacts in similar industries as well, meaning whatever issue you’re facing, you’ll have a wide range of help to choose from. However, mentors are not consultants, and it’s a two-way relationship, so don’t expect to get the world for free: put in as much effort as you’re getting back!
Get yourself onto GOV.UK and make use of the Business Finance and Support Finder. This tool asks for certain specifics, such as your industry, the structure of your business, the stage it’s at, the support you’re after, and your location, in order to find you a selection of mentor programmes and available grants.
Consultants and freelancers
If you’ve got the money, this may well be the best route. Business consultants make a living from turning failing businesses into successful ones, and they’ll be able to instruct you on how to turn yours around. Struggling due to time restraints can be easily solved: contract a couple of freelancers to take the burden off you, especially if small admin jobs are taking up too much time. It’s too easy to get swallowed into your company, so a pair of expert, outside eyes can often offer up solutions in a heartbeat.
Local council or government
Depending on where you are in the world, contacting the business department of the government, or local governing body is a good place to start. They’ll be able to notify you of any procedures, as well as pointing you in the direction of mentors, support groups, and available grants. Governments and the private sector are a great place to go for a full range of resources: not only will you be able to find people to help you, but structures set up in order to support small business owners, and a variety of grants and awards for which you can apply.
The Government's website has a host of resources to help you out – from business plan templates, to guides on the Green Deal. One of the best offerings is the Business Link Helpline. You’ll be able to get advice on anything from the simple to the extreme over the phone, and be pointed in the right direction by someone who knows what they’re talking about.
Another good first port of call is speaking to whoever you’ve borrowed money from (if you have!). If that’s the bank, then go in and see your personal advisor. They’ll be able to advise you on what best to do, and sort out if they can offer you smaller payments, or an extended amount of time. While it’s doubtful that a bank will be the most sympathetic people towards your situation, they’ll be black and white with you, and you need to hear how long you’ve got to get money together.
Getting stuck can feel like the end of the world, so just remind yourself that setbacks are nothing more than a bump in the road. They don’t define you, nor do they write you off as an entrepreneur. Fix what you can, and if you can’t – move on, start again, and learn from your mistakes!