How I run a slow, cyclical and profitable business without the hustle or hacks

I’ve been thinking about a different way of running a small business for years. Yet before the Summer I attended a workshop that suddenly brought all of those threads together and crystallized them and put them into more coherent words for me. In this post, I’ll be sharing a manifesto of sorts for cyclical business, tying together my favourite themes of slow and gentle, no hustle, working with my energy and more. I’ll share how I run a slow, cyclical business without the hustle or hacks.

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Why I’m choosing slow and cyclical over hustle and hacks

In June I attended a workshop in the Aligned Community by Lottie Randomly. Lottie spoke about using cycles—menstrual, lunar, seasonal—for societal change. Their talk was a great example of connecting threads between various kinds of perspectives and activism, from menstrual cycle awareness to disability studies to natural rhythms and activism.

My lightbulb moment came when they discussed linear versus cyclical time. Of course I knew both of these concepts, but that day something clicked for me. What if I were to expand on that and apply cyclical thinking to business?

Linear time, as Lottie discussed it, emphasizes progress, growth at all cost, capitalism and business as usual. Cyclical time, on the other hand, emphasizes return, regeneration, reflection, menstrual time and crip time. 

Cyclical time is the time of the seasons, of the tides, of natural rhythms. It’s the kind of conception of time I’m drawn too, yet find hard to match with the linear time in which much of my world around me functions.

Creating a slow, cyclical and profitable business

My first entry point into applying the concept of cyclicality and cyclical thinking to business was a question to myself that I scribbled down during Lottie’s workshop. How would embracing cyclical time shift my feelings towards money and enoughness?

With its emphasis on progress, linear thinking emphasizes continual growth. In linear thinking—as in capitalism—there is continual striving and progress, but no arriving. Hence, there is never enough.

In business, linear thinking emphasizes scarcity, the need to keep going, to keep moving, to keep producing and doing. It means having to build from nothing, having to hustle and there never being enough. It means force and constriction, striving without ever reaching. It means not being able to rest. It means living with the idea that nothing is ever enough and everything can be lost.

As I was writing this post, I came across a quote by the anthropologist Marshall Sahlins in Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass that encapsulates this kind of linear, capitalist, thinking perfectly: “modern capitalist societies, however richly endowed, dedicate themselves to the proposition of scarcity. Inadequacy of economic means is the first principle of the world’s wealthiest peoples”. As Wall Kimmerer explains, “The shortage is due not to how much material wealth there actually is, but to the way in which it is exchanged or circulated”.

Cyclical thinking, on the other hand, emphasizes return. It stresses the reality of and trust in cycles, that things will come back—that we never start from nowhere and with nothing.

Even when it seems like nothing much is going on, roots are growing, bulbs are developing, seeds are getting ready to sprout. It means having seasons of abundance and seasons of less, and that both are okay and normal. It means acknowledging that as humans we have seasons and that our businesses have seasons too. It means trusting that there is enough. It means letting go and going with the cycles. Everything around me and in me, the garden, the tides, my body, is cyclical. When I root into that awareness, I can trust things to happen for and in my business.

A cyclical approach to business does not mean that we just sit back and that things will magically come our way. But it does mean that we can have a business and make the money we want without hustling or working ourselves into the ground. That we can experiment with trusting more. That even when nothing seems to be happening, something is happening: we are resting or working behind the scenes in our business or doing something else that prepares us for seasons of abundance. I know all of this to be true—even though feeling it is sometimes hard.

Even when it seems like nothing much is going on, roots are growing, bulbs are developing, seeds are getting ready to sprout. It means having seasons of abundance and seasons of less, and that both are okay and normal.

There is a slower, gentler and more profitable way of running your business.

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No hacks, no hustle.

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Practical ways of creating a slow and cyclical business

Thinking of business as cyclical feels more expansive to me. Especially as someone who struggles with the concept of “enough”—enough work, enough money, enough everything—resting in a deep trust of enough feels comforting.

It also feels really hard. Seasons of less in business are hard. But they are hard whether we think linearly or cyclically—the only difference being that if we try to cultivate trust we have a slightly more pleasant experience. As hard as I often find it still to think cyclically, trusting that things will return—whether it is energy, clients and customers, time, money—makes for a more pleasant ride.

Cyclicality, in life and business, is less a model for me than it is something to be aware of. A lens, rather than a blueprint. There is only so much that I can control in life and in business, and cyclicality is helping me be okay with that. I can enjoy seasons of abundance and use them to put away money for seasons of less—without feeling scarcity or stress.

Quite practically, it means having a loose approach towards numbers of all kinds. I notice that when it comes to numbers—subscribers numbers, money—I either feel excited about them, or I feel grasping, clenching, scarce about them, even if the numbers are exactly the same. It probably largely has to do with my mood on any given day, but I also notice that the more attention I pay to numbers, the sooner I end up feeling scarce about them. When it comes to subscriber numbers, I want to embrace the magic, to focus on connection and community. Those are the things that fill me up, much more so than whether I have ten or twenty or thirty more or less subscribers.

A good mentor gives you the confidence to run your business in a way that works for you, your life and your values.

With money this is perhaps a bit trickier. On the one hand, I know that my mood on any given day influences how I approach money. I’ve already made huge steps in feeling less scarcity. And most of the times I feel absolutely fine. But as I’m decreasing my hours in my teaching job and thereby putting more (financial) pressure on my business, making money becomes more important. I don’t believe in manifesting—I don’t believe that just because I want to make X amount of money I will. That only if I try hard enough, work hard enough, manifest hard enough (am deserving enough…), the money will come.

But in thinking cyclically, I want to remind myself to trust in cycles. That some months I will make more money than I need, and other I will make less. And that this is okay. It means that I need and want to practise feeling enough and feeling gratitude. It means reminding myself of another Robin Wall Kimmerer quote that I underlined: “Scarcity and plenty are as much qualities of the mind and spirit as they are of the economy”.

Another practical way of implementing cyclicality is to continue to do what I’m doing: really paying attention to my own fluctuations in energy and mental health. Unplanning and loose consistency both help me with this, as does working ahead whenever it feels right. The reason why I’ve started working on a group programme that won’t launch until the early Spring isn’t so much because it’s a lot of work (although it is), but primarily because I don’t want to put too much pressure in myself during the Winter, when my energy levels are generally more unpredictable. At the same time, I continue to embrace rest as a core business value in practice too—building my days around rest, mental and physical nourishment (reading; naps; yoga and pilates).

If my newsletters and free resources resonate with you, I might just be the right mentor for you. I don’t believe in 10-step-plans, or get rich quick schemes. I do believe that it is possible to create and run a business that fits you and your life: your values and rhythms, your strengths and passions. I strongly believe that you don’t need to do all the things, or be on all the channels to make your business work. 

I’m here to help you feel more supported in your business. I’m here to give you the confidence to run your business from that place of deep inner knowing inside of you, offering my signature blend of mindset shifts and practical steps.

An experiment

Take a moment to think or journal about these questions:

  1. How, where and when are you approaching your business linearly? What does that mean, look and feel like?
  2. Which elements of your business would you like to approach more cyclically? What would that look like for you?

I’d love to know which of these strategies to feel more supported in your business you’ve tried, and which you’re going to try out. I’d love to know!

Please feel free to share it with business friends, in your newsletter or on social media. 💛

I’d love to support you in all phases of your business. Providing clarity, focus and next steps is something that my clients tell me I’m really good at. If you’re curious about how we can work together through 1:1 mentoring, check out what I offer or send me an email–no strings attached. I have payment plans available, and flexible options for mentoring calls (30 or 60 minutes).

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