Two words that generally don’t go together: zen business.
But no one wants or likes stress. It makes life miserable, gives us insomnia, and creates unwanted anxiety, fear, and frustration.
So why would you ever choose to build a stressful business?
The answer is, of course, that you wouldn’t. Yet, somehow it just turns out that way. Not by design, but by circumstances. Maybe you let a small situation turn into a larger nightmare, or maybe you made a bad choice that you have to live with. You thought it would be fun and exciting to own your business, and now you’re too stressed out to sleep.
Wherever you are on your business journey, take the time to really think about stress. Are you living day to day reacting to things you could have prevented? Do you spend more time dealing with situations beyond your control? There are things you can do to plan or prepare for stress or reduce the number of stressful situations in both your personal and business life.
Creating a Zen business is both a mindset and way of life. It’s your key to a more productive and profitable business. Because you can run your new empire better when your mind is not bogged down with stress, worry, and frustration. Because running your business should make you feel confident, happy and fulfilled.
Ready to get your Zen on?
- 1 Zen Business Truth: Get Real Or Stop Right Here
- 2 Zen Business Priority: Building a Strong Foundation
- 3 Zen Business Rules: Easy Choices for a Stress-Free Empire
- 4 Zen Business Practice: Breathe In, Breathe Out
Zen Business Truth: Get Real Or Stop Right Here
Before we move any further on our path to a Zen business, it’s incredibly important to get real about your life.
This only works if you’re honest and real about yourself, your business, and your personal situation. If you’re not willing to be completely honest with yourself, just stop reading right now. It’s a waste of time going any further.
Ready to get real? Great, let’s move on.
Here are a few examples:
Let’s say I’m self-centered, pushy, and controlling (and I don’t want to hear from anyone that I am – this is an example people!). I’m trying to grow my business and attend several networking events per month, yet nothing is working. I get the feeling that people try to avoid me. All I’m trying to do is sell my stuff, which I could easily do if they would just listen to me!!! What is wrong with them??!!!
Or I’m frazzled, overwhelmed, and constantly late to everything. Of course, I am! I have 3 small kids and a husband to deal with – I’m not superwoman! Sure, I don’t always come off as professional when I slow down enough to talk to potential clients. I can’t be professional when I’m dealing with constant messages from my husband about what we’re having for dinner!
Or even this:
Let’s say that my life seems to be crumbling around me. I can’t think straight because I just don’t know what to do. I feel like I’m drowning. It’s not just my business, but my entire life. I feel sick mentally, emotionally and physically. I show up, but nothing gets done. I just want to curl up and cry.
I don’t know your situation, and it’s none of my business. Only you know your issues and how serious they are. Nothing will get better unless you’re willing to be honest with yourself. If you’re willing to take a long, hard look at your current situation, I’m ready to help.
Zen Business Priority: Building a Strong Foundation
I’ve taught karate for almost 20 years. We always start with the basics – it’s our foundation. We often explain this as a pyramid. Basic kicks, punches, and blocks make up the bottom layer of our pyramid. Throw in a few push-ups, sit-ups and squats for good measure. Then we move on to more difficult techniques. We’ll never be good martial artists until we master the basics.
You’re reading this right now because you’re hoping to master Zen. Yet, you’ll never achieve any kind of Zen business until you shore up your weak spots. Or until you cut them out of our foundation.
There are many different core aspects of our lives that make us whole. Here are my personal Zen principles:
Family: Spending quality time with my family and extended family will always be a top priority for me.
Spirituality: Pursuing my personal belief system and investing time and energy into pursuing my own truth.
Health: I know I’m not useful unless I’m healthy, so I try to eat healthy and exercise with a focus on prevention.
Philanthropy: I try to give back whenever I can to the causes I’m most passionate about.
Purpose: Money isn’t the reason I have a business, it’s the consequence.
Yours will certainly be different, as we each walk our own path in life. However, each brick in your foundation needs to be tended, strengthened, and maintained. For example, what do you need to do if you’re currently depressed? Have you seen a doctor, therapist or nutritionist? What are the steps you need to take to get healthier?
That’s one’s hard because it’s difficult to do when you’re already depressed. However, you’ll never achieve business Zen if you’re struggling with a major internal issue. It’s really that simple. Sure, you may have some good days, but your foundation will crumble if anything major happens.
No one knows you better than you know yourself. What are the weak spots in your foundation? What can you do today to help strengthen each brick on the bottom of your pyramid?
Big Issues Take Time
We are talking about HUGE life issues – not simple challenges. These parts of your life are incredibly personal and complex. I’m certainly not suggesting we can solve any of these in this book. Let’s say you’re feeling very disconnected and know that some aspect of your spiritual life is off. Saying “I’m going to fix this today” will never work. However, you could start focusing on finding the answer by trying different spiritual practices until you find the one that fits for you.
Remember that I said each brick needs to be tended, strengthened, and maintained. I didn’t say you could cover it with adamantium and move on to the next issue. None of your core aspects will be easy to deal with, and you may feel that you’re running in survival mode most of the time. Yet, you still want peace, harmony and a decent profit.
Figure out your core issues. Decide which ones need tending, and which ones are stable (for now). Get professional help if you need it. Actively work towards keeping your foundation strong. Don’t hide your head in the sand, pretend it’s okay when it’s clearly not. Question everything until you find the answers you’re looking for.
It’s hard work, but finding your Zen management style means creating a balanced and strong personal foundation. And it means understanding that this process is a lifelong journey, not a destination.
Zen Business Rules: Easy Choices for a Stress-Free Empire
As a Zen business owner, you’re the captain of your ship. You make the path, you lead the way. It’s the same in your personal life – no one can limit what you do in your life except you.
In Killing Rapunzel, I shared why I believe you’re the only one that can save you. Just like Rapunzel who sat in the tower (brushing and braiding her means of escape!) waiting for anyone else to come save her. And she had the power to do it herself the entire time.
It’s the same with creating a Zen business. You’re the only one that can change your situation – no hero is coming to save the day. You’re the hero in this story. You have the power to create any kind of business you want. Work part-time, full-time, home-based, traveling, online or off…you’re the one that controls how it’s designed.
I can give you some basic rules, but it’s ultimately all up to you. Here’s some idea easy ways you can create less stress in your life and business, and hopefully inspire you to explore other areas of your business/life you could streamline.
Be Stingy with Your Time
Your time is the most valuable commodity you have – be extremely stingy about it!
In fact, time is your biggest asset. To achieve business Zen, you have to treat time like something tangible. It’s not an unlimited resource, as we only have 24 hours a day. It’s not something you can give to everyone. And it’s not something we can get back once it’s gone.
Before you say yes to anything, figure out if it contributes to your goals or is an unnecessary time-waster. Choose to communicate by email instead of meeting for lunch. Don’t join business groups if it doesn’t contribute to your bottom line. Don’t volunteer to be on a board if it doesn’t move your Zen and business forward. I like doing those things, but I don’t need to do them.
It’s up to us to figure out what our priorities are, and focus on those things first. If you focus on unnecessary time-wasters first, you won’t reach your goals. It’s really that simple.
I can’t change the fact that some families do not have an equal distribution of responsibilities. Some dads do more, and some moms do more. We can’t expect equality across the board.
But…we all have the same 24 hours a day. No more, no less.
The only way to find more time for your business is to take time away from other duties. Therefore, for you to find more time to devote to your business, you need to find ways to organize your day more efficiently.
Break Up With Nightmare Clients
“People either inspire you, or they drain you – pick them wisely.” – Hans F. Hansen
You know who they are. They make you cringe when you see who’s calling. You’ll do anything to avoid actually talking to them. They keep you up at night. They are the clients you wouldn’t wish on your worse enemy.
If you ever want to achieve Business Zen, you have to break up with these people. You can’t control every aspect of your business and some days will just suck. But you can control who you work with.
As business minimalists, we strive to eliminate clutter and keep what has the most value. Breaking up with these clients is essential to achieving peace of mind, and reduce your stress levels.
Dealing with Business Vampires
We’ve all had to deal with people we don’t like. People who suck the life out of us like a Business Vampire.
If you have a business associate who is making your life a living hell and you can’t break up with them (sorry!) then you have to change the relationship. Since you can’t stake them and they may press charges if you throw holy water on them, here’s 3 quick ways to change your interactions:
1) Eliminate every personal interaction. That means stop being “friends” on Facebook, and decline every social event they attend (that you can – don’t risk your business).
2) Change the way you communicate. Don’t call, just email. Don’t set a meeting unless you have an agenda (and stick to it!).
3) Keep it professional. Don’t be nasty or snarky – kill them with kindness. Keep every interaction as pleasant (and fast!) as you possibly can.
Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
You may feel like you’re discovering new, uncharted territory as you build your business. However, business is not new. There are millions of business owners who have been right where you are – trying to make their entrepreneurial dreams come true.
Whatever problem or challenge you might face creating your lifestyle business, someone else has likely experienced the exact same thing. You could spend hours, days or weeks trying to create the perfect business plan. Or you could learn from others mistakes.
Regardless of the industry, you can find a guide or mentor that will help you succeed. If you want to start a freelance writing business, try Carol Tice’s The Step-by-Step Guide to Freelance Writing Success: How to Break In and Start Earning – Fast. If you want to sell your own natural holistic products, read Start Your Own Herb and Herbal Products Business from Entrepreneur Press. There are mentors for every industry out there.
Your Zen for leadership goal is to work smarter, not harder. You don’t have to blaze a new trail or start completely from scratch. Find an expert in your industry, and learn from them. By embracing a mentor, you can avoid common mistakes and create a stronger business from day one.
The key is to learn from others – not to reinvent the wheel.
Escape Chaos with Simple, Essential Rules
When you operate your life and business without a few essential rules, you risk daily chaos. I think these rules help, but you may need to create your own. In fact, I beg you to create a few rules that help you build a framework that supports a stress-free business.
Remember, you’re the Captain. What rules will help your ship sail smoothly?
Zen Business Practice: Breathe In, Breathe Out
I’d love to tell you that you’ll create the perfect Zen business center in 10 easy steps. I’d love to share secrets to creating a stress-free business that you can set on automatic. I’d love to tell you it’s very, very simple.
But I’d be lying.
This is hard stuff. Some days will seem to fly in a happy blur of productivity and excitement (and hopefully profit!). Other days will make you want to run screaming into the wilderness, never to return. It’s not just that running a business is hard; it’s that life is extremely challenging.
Life, in all it’s wondrous complexities is a wicked bitch. She’ll knock your teeth out when you least expect it. She’ll take everything from you and expect you to get back up. She’ll show you the most amazing things, and laugh when you forget there is beauty in the world. You’ll fall from the horse a million times. And the only way to survive is to get back on the damn horse.
Balancing your life and business will always walking a tightrope. Some days your balance will amaze you. Some days you’ll struggle to stay upright and won’t be feeling Zen. That’s the way life is. It’s opposing forces always battling for dominance in your life. You’ll never control the unexpected forces that come crashing into your life and business like a freight train.
So focus on the ones you can control and make a plan on how to survive the ones you can’t.
A friend of mine teaches martial arts and explained how many of his students call him in stressful situations. After his 3rd emergency call of the day, he said he wished he had an answering machine to deliver the same message, as his advice is always the same: breathe. He says you can’t handle any crisis until you’re centered and believes you can achieve that by breathing. I agree.
Achieving a Zen business is a daily battle and one you’ll sometimes lose. And that’s okay. What’s not okay is giving in to the chaos and accepting that stress is just normal. Sure some stress is normal, but you can probably minimize your daily stress if you choose to figure out a plan. If Plan A doesn’t work for you, switch to Plan B. I’m currently on Plan Q, and who knows how long that plan will work. So here’s what I do:
Breathe in. Breathe out.
And get back up and try again.