4 ways to get unstuck in business

Coaching businesses, mentoring services, business groups, mastermind groups- they often help business owners wrestle with a universal problem. How do I get unstuck?

A lightbox with the words you got this sits on a table.
Photo by Prateek Katyal via Unsplash

The truth is, we all get stuck with our business endeavours at times. Whether it’s the promise of new opportunities coming thick and fast. Or we’re feeling a little bored and worn down by the same old, same old. Getting stuck is a surprisingly common phenomenon that occurs in micro business such as freelancing right through to the large-scale organisations.

We all have the potential to get to a point where the “where to next?” question haunts us. Coaching businesses together with a decade’s worth of experience in running my own has taught me how to shake that flypaper feeling.

Here are some of the ways you can reinvigorate your business and get off the blocks again

Tear down the huge plans

There’s a big myth that business owners need to shake- and that is we need to be planning in entire years and five-year plans. If 2020 has taught us anything, it should be that this puts us in a pretty vulnerable position in this day and age. With impacts like volatile politics, global crisis’s, environmental impacts and more to navigate, we can no longer kid ourselves about the health of looking so far forward.

Besides, long term plans it has been discovered are often far more torturous and unobtainable than we realise.

Gabrielle Ottingen of New York University studied behavioural change and how it sticks. The project www.woopmylife.org is a result of her research.

The core principles of WOOP are based on research that found:

  • Positive thinking will not get you through. It lacks the backbone to hold up change in the long term.
  • Favouring long-play goals, complex plans, and journeys of the long-term variety (hello five-year plan!) often sets us up for punishment. These lofty ambitions end up hanging around us, reminding us what we want but cannot seem to achieve.
  • A focus on outcomes denies us the ability to formulate a plan to get there.
  • Short timespans are better than longer ones. When we start thinking in weeks, we are better able to pick achievable ideas. We also leave less time for procrastination to take hold.


WOOP – wish, outcome, obstacle, plan

  1. What is currently your most important wish?
  2. What is the best future outcome you associate with fulfilling that wish?
  3. What are the most critical obstacles to fulfilling that wish?
  4. What will be your plan to overcome the obstacles you face? E.g. “If situation X arises, I will respond with the following goal-orientated      response Y”

When coaching businesses, I have shifted to this model. And you know what? It works. The person feels more in control of their goals. They can start seeing progress quicker. And any issues with the plans can be spotted well in advance, meaning less sunk costs of the financial and emotional kind are lost in the process.

In planning 2021, take the time to look ONLY at the first 3 months of 2021. WOOP it out. See how that changes the game. And repeat the process every season to keep you on track.

If you need a hand with your business plans, let me know. I can help you out.

Keep hold of your curiosity

Business takes itself far too seriously at times. We forget that when we started this journey, we were far more relaxed about risk. We were also far more comfortable with making do with what we had. And yes, we also have a lovely protective naivety that allows us to attempt ideas with less information and skill than more established business counterparts.

We can’t really unlearn what we gain in experience and knowledge. Nor can we live in isolation in the hope of never gaining greater peer insight.

But we can protect that asset that helped us take the leap in the first instance. We can remain utterly curious.

Now curiosity sounds like a fairly cute but unsubstantial ally, right? Wrong. Curiosity is an antidote to hyper competitiveness and scarcity myth. It also helps drive us forward through making new discoveries an exciting and vital part of the way we operate. Plus, it’s a great way to stay abreast of industry changes and at the top of your game.

So, how do you remain curious?

By learning whatever you can.

How to learn on your own terms is surprisingly simple:

  • Take time out for industry seminars and events
  • Read books, watch videos and consume content that is designed to help you study your industry
  • Join Facebook groups and forums that cater to professional you
  • Take on an apprentice or a junior and remain curious through satiating the curiosity in others
  • Learn new software, tools and techniques – and practice them until you master them
  • Take a journey through the ideas of someone you admire in the field. Learn their history and dig into their view on education, copywriting, air-conditioning maintenance – whatever they lead in
  • Regularly challenge what you know. Be less about the expert who knows everything and more about the professional who wants to make sure they’ve got all bases covered

Whether you explore concepts informally or as part of a study program, you have the potential to rekindle your love affair with your business and get off those blocks for good.

Ask yourself why

Coaching businesses has taught me that we often get stuck when we get caught in the dreaded murk of “low hanging fruit” and “this is what everyone else does”.

It’s great to see easy opportunities or stay up with your field, but it’s not a winning formula for succeeding in business.

When we adopt other businesses’ ideas and strategies, we are often missing a vital part- the justification for taking that action in the first place. A business that identifies a problem, does the research, defines the solution and acts on it has a much greater understanding of that solution. They are far more able to justify its existence. They are more connected to the solution’s value. They can see the problems and obstacles in the way of that solution’s conception.

And most importantly, they care about the solution beyond “it seems to work for everyone else.”

When we don’t know exactly why something matters, it’s harder to connect with it. We also skip that vital step where we grow attached to the idea through molding it into shape and launching it.

If you don’t know why a marketing campaign, hot new product, a service offering or business idea matters, what’s the point in doing it?

And there’s part of us that understands this. Our brains are designed to protect us from harm. Part of that harm might be wasting our time and energy on an idea we have no love or use for. Sure, your brain is sometimes risk adverse simply for the sake of it. And that’s why asking yourself what’s making you procrastinate, stumble, avoid the work involved or put off an idea is so important.

Always sanity check your business ideas to make sure that you aren’t ignoring warning signs of potential failure. And please, don’t put your butt on the line creating new ideas based on what everyone else is doing. Or it looks like an easy win you really don’t care about.

Save that energy for the ideas that are special, unique and are about to change the game. Because that’s what your customers care about anyway.

Choose your coaching businesses wisely

Not all coaches are created equal. Some are made in hotel conference rooms over the weekend after paying for a seminar because they’ve decided not to walk dogs anymore.

There are a lot of coaching businesses out there that might not have the runs on the board or the specialised knowledge you need to be able to shift off those dreaded blocks. Or they could have their own agenda and plan that doesn’t necessarily cater to you.

We all know the pitfalls of business coaching. It’s why it gets such a bad rap.

But what we don’t often focus on are the benefits.

A good coach can remind you of your strengths again. They can take you back to that place where you had courage and felt more confident to take on the unknown.

They can also bolster your skills. They can apply their knowledge to yours to take it higher.

A great coach can listen to what you have to say and help you through the issues. Not only with ideas on how to fix the problems you face, but to also let them go and get over them.

They can help challenge the ideas that you may have invested in that might be part of the problem. And they can help you build the roadmap you need to get away from them.

If you’ve got a coach who is smiling and nodding while picturing how to upsell you, feel free to ditch them. Pick me instead. Ha! 

The whole idea of coaching is to:

  • Help you define the problems in real terms
  • Relieve your distress
  • Uncover the strengths you may have forgotten
  • Enable your capacity and coping skills
  • Build you a roadmap forward

If you’re not getting that with coaching businesses, you’re not getting coached properly.

And if you want to get coached properly, GIVE ME A TICKLE. Coaching businesses to get unstuck is (part of) what I do.

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