Getting Past the Seven-Year Itch (In Business That Is)

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Recently post we wrote about hitting boredom and resetting your goals to find your way forward. But what if you’re really seeking something new and shiny instead? What then?

Let’s face it, running a business is tough! Fun, great, tiring, exhausting and mentally and often physically challenging all at the same time. It’s not just the string of endless coffees and events you see in other’s Facebook posts. Pretty much every business owner I know works their tail off and somewhere around the seven-year mark, there’s a level of fatigue that can set in. Running a business is a marathon, not a sprint.

Fatigue aside, there are a few other reasons why seven years is the seemingly magical time business owners decide it’s time to move on. Maybe you’ve encountered more than one of these:

  1. Financial backers (including spouses who’ve supported your efforts thus far) crave for a liquidity event such as a merger, sale or bringing on another partner to convert ownership equity into cash (and maybe a bit more time with/for them).
  2. Sustaining a certain level of growth can be harder to come by as the business ages. Increased competition in the market often means steeper competition and that might be part of why you may feel things starting to stagnate.
  3. Founders/entrepreneurs often love the smell of new and exciting and want to chase that strength to start something entirely new. These are the ‘pioneers’ amongst us.

But What If You’re Not a ‘Pioneer’?

There are lots of people who have made good as entrepreneurs who’ve responded to an inner call – a sense of purpose, a longing of some kind that accepts the countless ups and downs that come with creating a business. Something that drove you to do whatever it is that you do.

What if you’ve stopped feeling that inner call? What then?

I have a friend who, when I told her I was thinking of writing a blog on the seven-year itch, mentioned how she’d recently gone through an itchy patch with her business – that was almost seven (not quite) years old at the time. She was thinking she’d just close the doors and leave to start something new. It wasn’t that the business wasn’t doing well, it’s just that it just didn’t feel ‘right’ any longer.

The only reason she was still sticking it out in her business at that point, was she had no clue what the ‘new shiny thing’ was and it didn’t seem right to quit without a plan.

So she worked with an advisor to work out what her motivations truly were – why she started her business, what that originally looked like and how it differed now from what she’d originally intended.

She described the process as ‘almost remedial’: together they found she’d lost sight of a couple of things that were really important to her in the process of growing the business. Whilst she loved producing the work, the travails that came with running a business meant she was always on the edge of overwhelm. The admin, the books and the constant need to keep on top of her marketing became all too much.

The solution? She got herself some help on a couple of fronts and returned back to doing what it was she loved – her ‘shiny stuff’ that allowed her to flex her wings – and, in so doing, rediscovered her zeal for the business. She actually couldn’t believe it was that easy. We could because we see this happen a lot.

How To Make a Seven-Year Itch Work For You

Find What Works For You

Marcus Buckingham, who has written a number of books on finding your strengths, suggests that you spend a good week, writing an S (this strengthens me) or a W (this weakens me) next to every single task you undertake. Then look and see where you’re spending the majority of your time. If it’s in the S column, great. If not, and you’re overloaded with stuff that weakens you, it’s time to enlist some help to be able to focus on getting your strengths back into your life.

Set Yourself Up to Succeed

Regardless of where you find yourself on the business continuum, if you’re serious about what’s next for you and your business, the trick is you want to have yourself set up in such a way that you’re not hamstrung by things that ‘other people’ could take care of – that get in the way of you being able to focus on your real priorities – finding customers, servicing those customers and delivering on your product/service promise – or whichever part of your business you love most.

And that’s where we might be able to help.

If you’d like to know more about how we can help free you from admin, answering your phone, meeting management or even providing you with flexible office spaces, we’d love to talk to you. You can call us on 1300 318 680 or drop us a note.


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Article by Michelle

April 11, 2017