The rearview mirror is one of those driving tools that we are so used to that we take it for granted. That is, until that moment when you jump in the cab of a moving truck or load up a pickup bed full of yard debris. The second that rearview mirror is gone or blocked, this unsettling feeling creeps in and you realize how much more difficult it is to reverse, to change lanes, or keep an eye on that black SUV that’s been following you for the last three miles. Or is that just me?
Keeping your business’ past in your sights allows you to stay nimble, to respond to what works and what doesn’t, and to make sure you’re not veering too far down the wrong path. But just like it’s impossible to drive forward while staring into the rearview mirror, you can’t dwell entirely on the past and expect to make progress in your business.
Where you’ve been and where you’re going are not as irrevocably linked as you might think. Being a small business owner means that you have flexibility to experiment and pivot and change things up to make course corrections and stay on track with your goals. Big business behemoths just don’t have that luxury.
So use your rearview mirror to your advantage, but don’t be beholden to what it shows you. What worked well before isn’t a sure bet in the future. There are a lot of variables that can affect different aspects of your business, so make sure you don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Anyone who’s been selling on Etsy for more than 5 years will tell you firsthand. By the same token, just because something failed or didn’t quite work out before doesn’t mean it will never work again either. Variables. Things you don’t have control over.
The most obvious things you see in your rearview are likely to be the failures, warts, and blemishes, and it’s easy to let that get you down or consume most of your reflection. Don’t forget that you’ve encountered wins along the way as well. Celebrate your victories, big or small, and spend a little time congratulating yourself on a job well done. Review and reflection shouldn’t always be negative, especially when you’re in a place where the winter doldrums can set in—the combo can be a one-two punch to your business gut if you’re not careful!
And keep in mind that the end of the year isn’t the only time you should be reflecting. Forming a regular habit around review and reevaluation will keep your mind open to evolving your business as things happen and responding with tiny course corrections instead of needing to undertake big ones.
Lastly, pay attention to the overall joy you get out of running your business. If you see a downward trend in how you feel about making something you love (or at least used to love), it might be time to think about ways you can jump back into it with your whole heart and really start finding that spark again.
Don’t take your business’ rearview mirror for granted. Let it be your guide as you move about your business and give you the insights you need to stay on your toes, recognize what’s going well, adapt to what needs to change, and keep your eyes set forward to the future of your business where you achieve your goals and your dreams come true.
Jen Crowe is the artist and jeweler behind Jen Crowe Studio. She began designing jewelry in 1994 as a teenager in Wisconsin. Since her relocation to California in 2007, her work has evolved into abstract sculptural forms. Jen is inspired by artists of the past and present as well as her own abstract painting process. She hand carves and metal smiths her original designs and replicates them using the ancient lost wax casting technique. Dedicated to the environment, her jewelry is created in reclaimed silver and lab-created gemstones when available.
To see her art, designs, and adventures, follow her on Instagram.
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