Startup struggles: Where has my discipline gone?

I’ve always been quite disciplined; very clear about where I’m heading in life and very diligent about doing the things that I needed to do to get there. However, when I started working for myself and no longer had an established structure and routine, my self-discipline took a nose dive. Here’s what I mean:

  1. Early morning starts became afternoon starts
  2. Today’s deadlines began to slide in to tomorrow or next week
  3. Dressing for business became, I’ll just work from my bed in my PJs (don’t judge me lol)

Now some might say what does it matter if you’re getting your work done? Well, the first thing I’d say to that is; if you think you can grow a business without being self-disciplined you’re kidding yourself.

Self-discipline is the ability to make yourself do things that should be done, even when you don’t feel like it.

The simple truth is; you’ll need more self-discipline than you have ever had in your life to make your business a success. It’s all on you; if you don’t decide, delegate or do what needs to be done, your business will not get off the ground, much less grow.

Don’t despair even if you’re not naturally disciplined, here’s a few tips that will help

1. Establish simple routines for yourself

Don’t try to become a productivity machine overnight, build simple disciplines into your business gradually over time. One that work for me is a simple mantra, and the practice of these three things;

  • Get up – I did away with weekday lie-ins
  • Get dressed – I get presentable as if heading off to work, regardless of whether or not I have external business engagements
  • Get your mind right- I adjust my mind-set, for me this means prayer, Bible study and/or reading a few pages from an inspirational book. For you this can be anything that gets you into a positive frame of mind.

2. Build your business in bitesize steps

I drastically reduced my to-do list and I focus on the core things that are going to move my business forward. If I only get one or two important things done a day that’s o.k. for me, as long as those things facilitate sales and/or business growth.

3. Set yourself small challenges

Getting disciplined is hard work but setting yourself challenges can make disciplining yourself more fun and less stressful. One thing that I did was commit to doing a live video stream on Periscope by 10am every day for a week or so. This meant that I had to be up, dressed and in a business frame of mine first thing in the morning. I also announced the time on social media the day before so that I was fully committed and couldn’t back out.

4. Be accountable to someone

One of the main reasons we are so disciplined when we have a regular 9-5 is because we have a boss to answer to, and we know we’re liable to get fired if we don’t stick to basic rules and expectations.

Many of us relish self-employment because of the freedom it gives us. However, too much freedom is a bad thing, we thrive within the confines of boundaries and expectations. What I strongly advice is having someone that you are accountable to, this can be a friend but ideally a coach or mentor who is not afraid to deliver hard truths when necessary and ask you tough questions about what you’re doing to reach your business goals.

5. Have business processes from the very beginning

Another reason it can be hard to get disciplined is because there are no established business processes and guidelines for what your daily work should entail. Establish action plans and ways of working for your business. This might include a process for sending email newsletters, daily social media activity, updating your website and attracting new customers etc. A great book on the topic of establishing processes for your business is E-Myth by Michael Gerber.

If you need a coach to help you get out of an undisciplined rut, don’t hesitate to contact me.