Having a slump, losing your creative mojo

I guess this is something everyone goes through from time to time - losing your mojo and feeling disheartened in your business. I've been running my candle business for years now and I've learnt over time that running a business isn't the straight upward curve you imagine it will be when you start out. I've had highs and lows, times when I felt 'yeay, I'm doing everything right and it's all going great' and I've had times when quite the opposite was true.

In fact, right now the opposite is true. I'm having a total slump and struggling to motivate myself to keep going. I thought I would write a little about what that feels like, both to talk myself down from the negativity and also to show that it's normal (I guess!) to have doubts.

The nature of running a business is being a bit like a gambler I imagine in many ways. I've done so many craft fairs over the years and each time I set out I'm thinking 'this will be great, I'll make lots of sales and get my name out there'.Over time, I've honed my selection of fairs quite well so I'm generally pretty happy heading home, but that wasn't always the case. There were so many where I sold practically nothing and barely covered the cost of the stall - and that's not even counting time and energy and petrol and food. It's completely soul destroying and yet you pick yourself up and head to the next one with the same optimism. I suppose it's a hope and belief in what you are doing that keeps you going.
For me that has been the case anyway. I'm very passionate about what I do and the ethos and quality of my candles is something I'm very proud of but when that doesn't translate to sales, it's hard to keep the energy going. I started the year well and in my head I know that it balances out over the whole year but having a month of zero sales has really dampened my enthusiasm. Current thoughts in my head are:

'There are a million other candle makers. I just can't compete.'

'People just don't like my candles particularly.'

'I don't have what it takes.'

'Why am I putting so much work into something that isn't working?'

I know that all that thinking could change in a flash. I could get a shop order or an online sale that would pick me right up but just in this moment, it's a struggle. I realised a long time ago that I want to keep my business small, I'm not hugely interested in becoming a manufacturer. I want to be able to offer the quality and customer service that I like to get from other businesses and for me, that means keeping things to a certain level and I'm happy with that. On the other hand, having customers is pretty essential :)

I guess that it's also the amount of work involved and feeling that it has to be validated with making some money. My candles are all hand poured in small batches and require a good few hours to complete a small batch. They then have to be packaged and labelled and left to cure. Then they have to be photographed and photos edited and added to shop and social media.  Social media in itself is a daily task for me. I try to make my photos as good as I can and I'm currently doing a photography course with a view to improving the quality even more. So I spend a lot of time trying to get photos right and it's also important to me to interact with others on social media because I like to support other small businesses.
I do it because I love it and it gives me a focus and an outlet for my talents that I wouldn't otherwise have but it's a business, not a hobby.

That's where the problem lies, I guess. It's that feeling of 'how can I justify all this time and work if I'm not getting a return?'

But even as I write this I'm starting to feel better, the wonderful thing about writing is putting all the negative thoughts outside your head instead of having them swirling around doing damage in there.

I know that things will turn around, this is always a quiet time of year for me and I have to remember all the lovely customers who have connected with me online or in person, the people who 'get' what I do and give me a reason to keep doing it.

Does anyone else feel like this from time to time? I'd love to hear your thoughts if you have a small business. How do you deal with the 'down' times?

You might also like The Importance of Creative Renewal

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  • Unknown
    Unknown 2 April 2017 at 13:21

    First....thank you for writing that. It is something that ALL small business owners and those who are even thinking of owning their own business need to read. Second.....your photograph is excellent and completely inspiring. Third.....you are an all around talent and I also think your constant push within yourself to deliver your personal best, again, is completely inspiring.
    You are great and you are a creative genius and that's that!
    xxx Beth

    • Cliona Kelliher
      Cliona Kelliher 2 April 2017 at 17:30

      Thank you so much! l really appreciate that, probably needed some positivity :)

  • Unknown
    Unknown 4 April 2017 at 08:40

    Losing inspiration happens to the best of us, I know I face burnout every couple of months or so! I always find that a change of scene or at least pace really helps, so it's great to hear how others come to terms with it.

  • Sophie's Nursery
    Sophie's Nursery 4 April 2017 at 11:14

    I have major ups and downs too! It can change from day to day depending on what has happened. I try and do something fun like a family day out which often takes my mind off it enough to get up the next day and start again x

  • Lyndsay-Rose
    Lyndsay-Rose 4 April 2017 at 13:48

    I think everyone has felt like this at some point.
    Things will pick up though.

  • London Mumma
    London Mumma 5 April 2017 at 15:32

    I do find myself going to into somewhat of a creative slump, from time to time. I do not have my own business, but I do have a blog, I actually wrote about what I do recently when in a slump, so you may find some great tips over at London Mumma. But just remember, why you started your business, get outside and even do some workout, to clear your mind! Then hopefully, your passions, will come flooding back. x

  • Unknown
    Unknown 5 April 2017 at 20:25

    keeping motivation up and recovering from low moments are really difficult skills but very good ones! I think this post can be an exercise to improve them :) x

  • Eleanore
    Eleanore 3 May 2017 at 08:27

    I think everyone has this experience,
    It is important to cheer up from bad emotions
    You are great and you can overcome this:) x

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