How do you run your business when life gets very complicated and demands a lot of you? How do you keep your game face on? Because business is never easy. Sometimes it’s really fun – you have big wins and successes that make it all worthwhile. But a lot of the time business can be tough. And when you experience disappointment and discouragement, or when you have a lot going on outside of work, it can take a lot of grit to dig deep and keep going. So how do you cope as an entrepreneur and carry on in your business while you’re dealing with emotional stress caused by major life events?

My personal story

You’re probably wondering why I’m talking about this topic. Mainly, because I acknowledge that a lot of you are going through personal experiences that you may be finding hard to deal with at the moment. And when that happens – when life hits you hard – it can be hard to work on your business. So I want to share my personal story to inspire you, encourage you, and show you what’s possible.

Out of the blue, in 2016, my dad phoned me and told me he had cancer. There was no warning this was coming, and he died only eight weeks after that conversation. It was a complete bombshell. At the same time, we also found out we were having another baby. So with a toddler at home, I was coping with early pregnancy symptoms, while trying to keep it all together for the sake of my son. Plus, my husband had just accepted a job 200 miles away from where we were living, so we knew we’d be moving soon. In all honesty, with so much going on, I started to feel like I was emotionally at capacity.

By that point in my life, I had had my first year of business, which had been really good. I had my plan mapped out for the year ahead, and I was excited. But I soon realised I was nowhere near where I should have been according to my business plan. I was feeling quite discouraged and stressed about my business. So when I suddenly got plunged into this family turmoil of realising I was going to be losing my dad and have to deal with everything else at the same time, I had no idea how I’d cope, let alone how I’d turn my business around during a bit of slump!

My business became my ‘safe place’

To my surprise, despite everything that was going in my personal life, my business became my safe space. I found that working helped me get a taste of ‘normal life’. In a way, it felt quite therapeutic to jump on a Facebook live and talk about something other than cancer. At the time I didn’t feel I could talk about my dad’s situation in my online work circles. I just didn’t want to offload on my clients as that didn’t feel right or professional. And I certainly wanted to be my 100% professional self at work.

Plus, the fact that life suddenly felt so complicated was a real spur to just get on with things in the business. I didn’t have time to dither around. I’d just sit down in the limited time I had and get things done. My guest Lisa York and I talk about getting things done in the available pockets of time in my podcast episode Getting Things Done, which is worth a listen if you haven’t already done so.

In the 12 months that followed my dad’s illness and then his death, surprisingly, I found real focus and confidence. I stopped worrying so much about the ‘what if’s’ and went ahead with things. What I learnt is that it’s much easier to make progress when you’re not fearful. So if you’re going through something difficult in your life right now, here are my five top tips on how to cope and carry on with your business when life throws stuff your way.

1. Listen to yourself

Work out what you need in the situation you’re in and, whatever it is, be ready to put it into action. Often you can’t know how you’ll feel until you experience something.  And how you feel may be different from how you thought you would. When I had the news about my dad it felt like one the toughest times of my life, but I had the confidence to decide how I wanted to deal with it at the time.

2. Make space for how you feel

Don’t try to squash feelings down to be 100% normal all the time. Personally, I was able to keep it together to work with clients and do a couple of hours of marketing every week because I felt like it. But I was also quick to say and accept that I may not feel the same way on another day. Some days I was able to put my game face on and go out there and make an offer. On other days I wasn’t. The fact I was able to have an online presence that didn’t require me to be 100% there 24/7 was really helpful.

3. Give yourself permission to step away from your business

If you feel the need to, do shut your business off. Go on sabbatical. Take a break. Why do we choose to be entrepreneurs if we can’t have that flexibility? If you feel you can’t give your business the attention it needs right now, and you can’t be there as your best self to enjoy it, then choose not to be there at all. If you can’t find that positivity and that sparkle that come from doing work you love as an entrepreneur, give yourself permission to switch it all off for a while.

It doesn’t mean you have to close your business down forever. Can you think of ways to automate or outsource more? Sometimes outsourcing really is the best way forward, especially if hire others to do tasks you don’t need to learn yourself. Work out how you can do the least possible leg work in your business and get the maximum gain out of it.

What will have the most impact? How can you work less hours and still meet your targets? If you want to find out more about how I did this working six hours a month, you can listen to my podcast episode How To Grow Your Business on Six Hours A Month.

4. Focus on what will bring the money in

Work out what you need to do to earn money and focus on that. In 2017 I decided to create a business model where I’d receive a guaranteed income for the following six months, so I started my Mastermind Programme. It meant I needed to do a lot of promotional work at the start of the programme. But once I had signed clients up, I’d focus on running the programme and being there for the people in the group.

Running my mastermind allowed me to not put my business on hold, despite having a young baby and a toddler and going through a house move and a big renovation project. I got really focused and did work that I enjoyed more. It felt like everything came together. I was laser-sharp focused on who my ideal clients were, on how I could attract them in a way that works, and I enjoyed doing the work.

So my advice is to drill down into who you want to work with, what services you want to offer, and how it’s going to work. Come up with a blueprint for something, test it, launch it, and see if people buy it.

5. Celebrate your wins

When you manage to get results while going through something big in life, it feels like it counts for double. Despite everything that happened, financially, I had a better year in 2017 than I did in 2015 and 2016. I managed to grow my business in fewer hours, and I enjoyed it so much more. It’s amazing to realise how resilient we can be when we need to, and often we only find this out when we’re experiencing tough times.

Do you need my help?

If you feel you’re at a stage in your business where you could do with the help of a Business Coach, find out about the different ways you can work with me. And if you’ve started to build momentum in your business and feel ready to take things to the next level, you can find out more about Catalyst, my advanced coaching business programme, here. If you’d rather have a chat about what programme may be right for you, feel free to get in touch.