4 tips to stay motivated and overcome emotional inertia in your business.
What is emotional inertia?
Scientifically, inertia is the energy that keeps your body moving forward when you suddenly hit the brakes of your car. Inertia may manifest in physical objects or as emotional inertia in the minds of people.
I experienced emotional inertia when I worked at a hospital in infection prevention before becoming a full-time entrepreneur and farmer. I was very unfulfilled at the hospital job. I felt as if nothing I did was correct, and I wasn't making an effective daily change inside my community. This compelled me to change my surroundings not only for myself, but for the sake of my business. In the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic I resigned to focus on building a stronger self and business model for my farm.
After leaving my 9-to-5, I walked into my purpose and began operating Ivy Leaf Farms, full-time. Having overcome my emotional inertia, I won a grant and was even featured on the evening news three times in the space of a week.
If you’re like me, then you, too, may be feeling stagnant or hesitant about becoming a full-time entrepreneur. Here are some questions to think about to help you take the leap:
1. What are you holding onto that could keep you from reaching your business goals?
2. What steps do you need to take to get your business started?
Here are four ways to help you overcome your own inertia, push forward, and set yourself and your business up for success.
1. Understand your mission.
When I started working for myself full-time, I was driven by my passion to empower my community - Sunnyside, a historically Black neighborhood in south Houston, TX, that was established in 1912 by a white councilman as other segregated neighborhoods in the city center grew crowded. The city of Houston didn't annex it until 1956. Back in the 1960s, Sunnyside had so many Black-owned businesses that residents called a stretch of Cullen Boulevard "Black Wall Street." But, by the end of the 1980s, most of the businesses had shuttered, leaving the neighborhood in economic desperation.
The community also has limited and low-quality grocery options and lacks juice bars, coffee shops, gyms, and quality dine-in restaurants. I knew that if I wanted to create a business that would feed the neighborhood, I couldn't be a conventional farmer. Instead, I had to think outside of the box to develop a concept that would alleviate some of the problems in the community. Upon incorporation, we had a three-step vision for the growth of Ivy Leaf Farms:
1. Expand the farm to additional lots within the Sunnyside community, allowing us to host gardening classes and events to teach community members how to farm within their own backyards and use limited resources.
2. Establish a mobile market that travels throughout the neighborhood weekly, allowing community members who lack transportation to receive the groceries they need.
3. Host farm-to-table events and eventually establish a brick-and-mortar location in the form of a healthy food restaurant where local farmers and artisans will be able to sell their produce and crafts.
Questions to think about:
1. Do you have a vision for growth within your business?
2. Place your vision for growth into steps: What comes first? Second? And third?
2. Understand your magic and your goals.
My best thoughts come when I am in the shower or after a nice cup of strong coffee. I keep a little notepad to write down my ideas and goals. Even if I never pursue what is on the paper, it no longer lives solely inside my head. The idea now has the potential structure of becoming a reality.
According to a study by Dr. Gail Matthews at the Dominican University in California, you are 62% more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down and sharing them with a friend. The study showed the importance of writing things down and the importance of commitment and accountability.
Questions to think about:
1. When is your best time to create?
2. When you have a business idea or thought, where do you place them? Who do you share them with?
3. What are three business goals?
3. Create boundaries with your business.
Creating boundaries for yourself and your brand is a critical step in establishing a resilient business. Boundaries allow you to give your best work when it is efficient for you. You can create boundaries in business by setting meeting times to meet your ideal proficiency when completing a task. For example, If you know you have your best creative thoughts at 10:00 a.m., make yourself available to have creative meetings during this time.
Stay true to yourself. Don't make early tasks or meetings if you know you don't like to wake up early. You can also set limits for yourself by sticking to your work hours.
Here’s a question to think about:
1. What boundaries can you establish with your business?
2. What is your natural energy rhythm through the course of the day? (morning person, night owl, etc.).
4. Stay transparent with your customers.
I have found that my customers, affectionately known as “Buds”, Buds appreciate when I state when I am struggling with a task. Understanding the journey keeps Buds connected and garners their support during product releases and events. Being open in thought and actions highlights the human behind a business and social media screen.
I understood early in business that each customer is a separate individual with their own perception and understanding of my business. Customers support your business for many unknown reasons. It may not be your mission or brand itself that garners support. It could be that you are woman-owned, your business might be convenient and easily accessible, you might have a touch of kindness that they need for the day. Every customer supports a business because they see their life better if they endorse you or your cause. Transparency and authenticity in communication are incredibly crucial when money and services are involved.
Questions to think about:
1. How can you introduce transparency into your business model?
2. What has transparency taught you about yourself and business?
As the owner of Ivy Leaf Farms, I have had the opportunity to enrich my community by creating programming, events, and concepts that are changing my neighborhood for the better. Looking back, I am so glad I pushed past the inertia and took the leap to focus on what is most meaningful to me. As a result, in 2021, I have scaled my farm by 500%, increasing food plots to grow more food, partnering with a fellow farmer to open a grocery store in a historical shopping center inside the neighborhood, and collaborating with incredible organizations to bring transformative action into Sunnyside.
Overall in business and life, there will be plenty of times you’ll face resistance. No matter what, you have to keep moving forward, setting goals, establishing boundaries, keeping it transparent, and staying focused on the work.